Born and raised in Clarksburg, West Virginia, John Holyfield was orphaned and reared by his grandmothers. Early in childhood, his interest in art was evident. Encouraged by teachers, family and friends, he studied art throughout school and went on to Howard University and the university of D.C. to major in graphic design. John’s interests, however, soon switched to the finer arts. Realizing the appeal of his works, he entered the art market and has become a leading African-American artist. John’s work has a strong southern folksy feel, capturing the essence of rural life. John paints with the maturity of a much older artist through the use of images that seem from an era past, yet with timeless messages.
John’s main themes are family, spirituality, and culture. For much of the subject matter, he draws from his family members, childhood memories and stories from his grandmothers.
His grandmothers are his greatest inspirations; which explains the repetition of women in his works. Growing up a Baptist, he was captivated by the church and often depicts church scenes and images dealing with spirituality. Most memorable were the choir and the music; which are also repeated themes. John sensed, early on, that being black was something unique and special. he noticed that aspects such as music, spirituality, heritage, ways and traditions set his race apart from others. and he felt compelled to capture this experience, visually, on canvas.
Such artists as Ernie Barnes, Norman Rockwell, and Frederic Leighton inspire John’s style. Like Barnes, his compositions are full of movement and his characters elongated and fluid. Most of his paintings, at a glance, tell a story or create a scenario. This style of visual story-telling is similar to Rockwell. John’s dramatic use of light and shadows within his images is a direct influence of Leighton.
Browse and enjoy the great African American Art work from one of Today’s most collected African American Artists, John Holyfield.