Howard Finster (1916-2001)
Self-taught Georgia outsider artist Howard Finster, in the mid-1970s had a vision. While using his finger to dab paint on a bicycle, he saw a human face in the fingertip. Howard interpreted this as a sign from God that he should create works of art in order to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. From then until his death, Howard Finster painted almost non-stop. He slept very little and painted detailed accounts of his visions and dreams. He abandoned his career as a preacher and, at the age of 61 and without any artistic training, began to paint toward his initial goal of 5,000 works of art. Finster produced some 48,000 works. before his death.
His paintings, especially the early works, were like small, visual sermons which often included angels fighting off evil. Howard scrawled messages on the works warning people about the end of time. Howard claimed to have regular visions of God and Elvis. He told the crowd at Ol' Miss that "I turned around and looked up and saw his face. I said to him the only thing I could think of to say, 'Elvis, can you stay a while with me?' and he said, 'Howard, I'm on a tight schedule.' "
Finster was born into a lumberjack's family of 13 children. Young Howard had his first vision at the age of three. While looking for his mother in the family's vegetable garden, he saw his dead sister wearing a white robe, descending from heaven.
He once said: "I get my inspiration from God. I've been having visions ever since I was a small kid."
Finster usually wrote on the back of each piece that he created, numbering each piece, with the date of the creation and often prophetic words by the legendary outsider artist. Some of words scrawled on the fronts and backs of his creations:
“Your soul is really all you own - Keep it!”
“If a shoe fits, wear it!”
“Angry is backed by Devils. God can help.”
"Don’t put your soul off. Give it a chance for Eternal life."
Howard Finster passed away on October 22nd, 2001.