O.L. Samuels (b.1931) - Outside/Folk Art
O.L. (Ossie Lee) Samuels was born in Wilcox County, Georgia. He left home at the age of eight making his way working on farms. He later became a professional boxer and then a tree surgeon.
In 1982 Samuels fell from a tree leaving him in a wheelchair for several years. He became extremely depressed until he remembered hearing the advice of his great-grandmother, saying, "when the mind get tangled up, when they get worried, carve on a wooden spool.” So he began to carve.
His carvings are inspired by his active imagination, and he creates real and fantastical animals and people. Despite being color-blind, he uses a painted finish to decorate his carvings. He combines paint, glitter, sawdust, and glue into a secret formula, which he then applies to his sculptures.
Samuels works mainly with found wood objects such as tree trunks, roots, and old wood furniture. He is known for his imaginary images, dreamlike figures, and mythical creatures.
O.L. is a minister living in Tallahassee with his wife Gladys, where he uses his living room for his sermons and maintains an area for carving.
He is considered one of the most talented self-taught artists in America by museums across the country. Samuels' work is part of several permanent collections, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, The American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Md., the Museum of American Folk Art in NYC, Arkansas Arts Center, and the Gadsden Art Center.
Photo Courtesy of Michael Abrams, 2008. Continued Reading: O.L. Samuels and his imaginative universe of animals, people and goblins: 'I make things with the help of the spirit'