Interesting Ideas

Though he occasionally delves into religious scenes, Edward Ott's painting is distinctly more secular.

In addition to his colorful, busy pictures of farm life, Ott likes to paint typically Florida views of nature and wildlife, plus the occasional clown.

E.B. Ott

His artistic vision comes through most clearly in his portraits, however. As in the farm scenes, he often depicts black people, including a number of black Santa Clauses.

"I took a loving of painting blacks," he explains, "because I could get more expression from the black people [than from whites]. The eyes are so important to me. I've spent as high as two days just on two eyes, nothing else on the paper."

Ott gives his people mouths to match their long-lashed, dominating eyes -- each tooth is sharply defined, lips are full and classically shaped.

1.5K Williams JPG
Some of the portraits are set against flat backgrounds, but at least one black Santa is backed by an orangish sky filled with clouds and birds, with a chaos of gifts piling up around him

Ott blends his colors far more than Hardee or Williams, though he's not averse to laying on thick layers of a single flat color when it suits his purposes.

He lives with his wife in a small, shaded retirement home off an out-of-the-way cul-de-sac and began painting around seven years ago.

"Recovering [from his car accident], I didn't know what to do. And this artist said, 'Well, come out to my house and I'll start you painting. It'll take a lot of tension off of you.' So I went out and she went kloop, kloop with all different colors. It was just a big cross. She said, 'There. Now we're going to paint a couple violets.'

"Well, I painted two big violets on those colors there. She looked at that and said, 'They're beautiful. You're better than I am.' I said, 'No.' But she started me. I went out and painted with her I think two or three times. And that was the end of it. I liked to paint. It was beautiful.

Hardee became an enthusiastic supporter of Ott after coming across the artist and his work at a local flea market.

"I just happened to go there and there he was and it was the first time he had ever set up at a flea market. He had just been painting a short time, maybe a few months or a year, and he had about maybe a dozen and a half paintings out for sale, unframed, on canvas board. I liked his work and I bought a couple of his paintings and I encouraged him to paint more.... I showed his work around to different people. And I got him in Folk Art Finder and I got him in Tyson's Trading Co. From there I encouraged Edward to try some different shows and things, and he got in our local Mayfaire Show and met a lot of people."

Ott reciprocates Hardee's admiration for his work, but says. "I've learned to paint not from looking at Rodney or looking at anything, but I paint what I feel. It has to be in here or I can't get it on paper or canvas."

Tamara Hendershot's Vanity Novelty Garden in Miami Beach handles paintings by Ruby Williams and Edward Ott.

Rodney Hardee Ruby Williams E.B. Ott Gene Beecher
No Disney here

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