Sam Doyle

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Sam Doyle (1906-1985) was a Gullah folk artist born on Saint Helena Island, South Carolina. He painted on scraps of wood and metal, documenting both St. Helena firsts and prominent members of the island community. The highly personal nature of his work is further enhanced by the words and abbreviated phrases which often adorned his paintings.[1]

He was born the eighth of nine children and attended the Penn School, the first established in the south for free blacks, up through the ninth grade. One of his teachers there noted his talent for drawing and encouraged him to travel north to study art. He did not want to leave St. Helena; instead, he found work as a store clerk, a porter, and a laundry worker. He married in 1932 and had three children; his wife and children would later move up to New York and leave him in St. Helena.

After retirement, Doyle resumed his childhood activity of painting in 1968, using house paint on large wooden boards and pieces of corrugated roofing tin. His yard became a makeshift museum of his work, and has received much attention from the mainstream art world after his death in 1985.


  1. ^ "Outsider Art Sourcebook", ed. John Maizels, Raw Vision, Watford, 2009, p.67

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