In the early 1950s through the 1980s a group of twenty-six African-American artists painted beautiful landscapes that displayed the serene, undeveloped Florida landscape of their time. Today these artists are known as the "Florida Highwaymen" and because of the tranquil scenes and history involved, their original paintings are highly demanded by collectors and enthusiasts. In 2004, the 26 original Florida Highwaymen were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.
In spite of his era's cultural barriers, Willie Daniels' life unites diverse groups within today's art world with rich landscapes and signature gnarly oaks. Though more prominently known as one of 26 recognized "Highwaymen Artists" of Fort Pierce, Florida, Willie Daniels Paintings convey the heart of one. The Highwaymen was an association of young African-American artists who painted Florida landscape in 1950s.
Quietly emerging from garage sales and dusty corners into galleries, Willie Daniels paintings invite people into the world of an African American man making his way through layers of racism wreckage. Daniels was a day laborer in Fort Pierce hot citrus groves, enduring a community where division by race was still painfully restricting. But from fields and packing houses, his life took a colorful turn in the late 1950s. Daniels' days blurred into fruitful evenings wielding a quickly moving paintbrush, he learned oil painting on Upson board. This roofing material, now obsolete, was the best economical material for Daniels' limited budget as well as for other Highwaymen. You can see in Willie Daniels paintings as his art evolved vividly from A.E. Backus' style of oil painting, learning along with his brother, Johnny Daniels.
Willie Daniels' authentic style formed in a rush to make many paintings for financial gain. The hurried painter with unhindered approach, freely and richly moving palette knives and brush strokes bypassed the norm, breathing life into a world dominated by tradition. The artistic flair and friendships with fellow artists opened doors to buyers along with sheer efforts.