Woodie Long 1942-2009

October 13, 2009 5:32 AM Staff Reports
Daily News

SANTA ROSA BEACH – Local folk artist Woodie Long died Monday night. He would have turned 67 on Oct. 19.

When Long first picked up a paintbrush in 1987, he was 45 years old and had never painted anything smaller than a house. He had no formal training.

The paintbrush belonged to his wife, Dot, a portrait painter who was out of the house taking a class at the local university. When she came home, Long had finished three paintings.

She saw something in them. So did her art professor, who offered to buy them for $30 each.

Long kept those first paintings, but had his first show three weeks later. He brought 38 paintings and sold all but two, taking home $1,800.

CLIICK HERE to see photos of Woodies’ studio.

Thirteen years later, his work was hanging in more than a dozen museums across the country and he estimated that he had sold 10,000 paintings.

His wife never painted again. Instead, she is her husband’s bookkeeper and the one who sets the prices. The works of this former housepainter have brightened the covers of more than 30 publications and even the simplest of his paintings sold for hundreds of dollars.

“People come in,” he said in a 2000 interview with the Daily News, smile lines wandering back to his hair. “They say, ‘Your works are expensive.’ I say, ‘Have you bought a van Gogh lately?’ “

Artist Curtis Weatherall remembered meeting Long three or four years ago. He found Long sitting in his studio singing and playing a piano.

“He was a character, a great guy,” Weatherall said. “And he will definitely be missed.”

Long was one of 12 children born to a Plant City, Fla., sharecropper. He could not read or write very well, since his father didn’t believe in school.

“I’m nothin’,” he said. “I’m just a housepainter. The good Lord touched my hands and made me an overnight success.

“That’s why they’re goin’ to put me in jail. For impersonating an artist. But they ain’t done it yet.”

(from NWF Daily News – http://www.nwfdailynews.com/articles/rosa-21535-artist-santa.html)