SF Spring Arts Festival Featured Artist: Ernest Lee

Ernest M Lee - Folk Artist

Ernest Lee grew up in North Carolina, where he learned to love painting as a youth through an art class in high school.  He explored many different paints and techniques, but fell in love with painting country houses with oils.

His work caught the eye of his art teacher, Mr. Cherry, who spent time nurturing Ernest’s natural abilities.  Mr. Cherry believed in Ernest and encouraged him to study art in college.  Mr. Cherry, told Dr. Burchette, then the head of the Art Department at St. Augustine’s College about Ernest.  Mr. Cherry, Dr. Burchette, and Grandma Alice helped Ernest enroll in St. Augustine’s College located in Raleigh, North Carolina as an art major in 1980.

Ernest studied under Dr. Burchette for two years.  The grant program for the department was discontinued after two years and Ernest had to take a job in the electrical field.  He took a job with a large lightning company in Florida 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 Highwaymen, S.M Wells.  Ernest made a friendship with Mr. Wells.  Ernest showed Mr. Wells a painting that he did when he was 15 years old.m Mr. Wells encouraged Ernest to start painting again.

Ernest now paints every day.  He has participated in an art shows and has art work that is exhibited in many galleries throughout the United States.  In 2019 he was a winner of the Awards of Merit at the Santa Fe Spring Art Festival.  In 2012 and 2013 he received “Honorable Mention” in “The Long Wood Arts Festival”.  In 2013, Ernest received “The Stetson Kennedy Foundation Fellowman, Mother Earth Award” as well as “The Award of Excellence at the Old Florida Celebration” in Cedar key.  He was also the art contest winner at The Matheson Museum Art Show.  He will be featured on The Pine Castle Art Show Cover in 2014.  He has been on CBS, PBS, and Cable Television.  Ernest also volunteers in local public schools to share his techniques and art work with students.  He will be the Co-Curator of the art show at Oak Hall School in Gainesville, Florida 2014.  The cover art for the show will be one of Ernest’s paintings.

Ernest is now known as a folk artist and is often called Florida’s Van Gogh, because of his robust impasto style with rich and vibrant colors.  He really enjoys painting country scenes from his youth and is becoming an art whisperer for people as he helps them recapture their childhood memories through his paintings.