Johnny Daniels

Johnny Daniels is one of the 26 Florida artists called Florida Highwaymen. The Highwaymen was a loose association of young African-American artists established in 1950s and functioning until 1970s. Highwaymen artists were mostly based around Fort Pierce in Florida, they were self-taught except for a few men, and painted Florida landscapes in a vivid style. These young men and one woman had no access to art galleries and shows and were selling their work from the roadways, travelling up and down Florida's East Coast. As other highwaymen, Johnny Daniels paintings were sold from the back of his truck for less than $100 a piece. Now Johnny Daniels paintings easily command hundreds and even thousands of dollars in art galleries throughout the country.

You can notice in Johnny Daniels paintings that he often layered the paint thickly using a palette knife, enriching the depth of the colours. Johnny Daniels paintings often display a few vibrant colours that contrast with more muted areas. Daniels also seems to enjoy the interplay between light, objects, and water. You often find in Johnny Daniels paintings that he often reflected the colours back at the viewer. Everything in his paintings appears to be alive and in motion: rippling water, gently swaying palms and billowing complete the effect. Much of the older Johnny Daniels paintings show the colours repeated through out the piece. In one example, a storm scene, there are vibrant umber clouds. The umber colour was repeated in the marsh grass and trees that framed the sky. He might have chosen this technique of mixing the predominant colour into the other areas to make his works more saleable, while reducing the cost of materials.

Most of the early Johnny Daniels paintings were done on the upson boards and Masonite, but newer ones are done on the stretched canvas. You can identify Johnny Daniels paintings by his signature – "J. Daniels", which he's making as the most of the other Florida Highwaymen using a palette knife. 


© 2015 by Florida Highway Men Paintings

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