Ernest Lee was born in a small town near Raleigh, North Carolina, and then moved to Virginia with his parents. After being run over and severely injured by a drunk driver, little Ernest moved back to North Carolina to live permanently with his grandmother.
Ernest, being a quiet, soft spoken child spent most of his time with his favorite hobbies – reading comic books and drawing super heroes. Ernest’s love for art did not waiver, even during his teen years. In fact, he took an art class at his high school and joined the art club. He explored many different paints and techniques, but fell in love with painting landscapes with oils. It became evident that he was showing talent for art. His work caught the eye of his high school art teacher, Mr. Cherry. Mr. Cherry spent time nurturing Ernest’s natural abilities.
Ernest was headed for the military upon graduation from high school. However, Mr. Cherry believed in Ernest and encouraged him to study art in college. Mr. Cherry told Dr. Howard Burchette, then head of the Art Department at St. Augustine’s College, about Ernest. With help from Mr. Cherry and Dr. Burchette, Ernest enrolled in St. Augustine’s College,located in Raleigh, NC, as an art major in 1980.
Ernest studied under Dr. Burchette for two years. The grant program for the department was discontinued. Ernest could not afford college tuition, so he took a full-time job in the electrical field. His job required a lot of traveling and shift work which left little time for art. After ten years in the field, Ernest started his own lighting company. His company operated successfully for five years until a severe downward turn in the economy adversely affected the lighting industry. Ernest then took a job with a large lighting company in Floriday in 2000.
Ernest’s love for art never subsided. He frequented art stores and museums whenever he could. While in an art store, he learned about the story of the Highwaymen which touched him deeply. The store owner could see the sparkle in his eyes, so she gave him contact information for Highwayman S.M. Wells. Ernest began a friendship with Mr. Wells.
Ernest showed Mr. Wells a painting that he did when he was 15 years of age. Mr. Wells encouraged Ernest to start painting again. Ernest had not painted in nearly 20 years.
Ernest now paints every day. He even met with his former high school art teacher, Mr. Cherry, who continues to offer advice and support for Ernest’s artwork. Ernest is exploring different styles of art including country scenes that remind him of his youth. He has also been commissioned to do abstract artwork for an album/CD cover series. Ernest’s creative style of artwork has been utilized in web-based comic book form as well as several other innovative ways. Ernest is still painting landscapes with oil, but with new vitality and appreciation for his first love – art.
Ernest was featured on The Ilene Silverman Show and has done documentaries on CBS, NBC, PBS and Cable Television. Ernest’s work is currently displayed in art galleries throughout the United States.