Willie Daniels (1950 - )
Born: Bainbridge, Georgia
Willie Daniels is the youngest of the original Highwaymen. In 1960 he moved to Fort Pierce where he lived three houses down from Mary Ann Carrol. Not to much later both Harold Newton and Roy McLendon became neighbors. Since childhood Willie was always interested in art, he painted his first painting on the top of a King Edward cigar box. Like many of the Highwaymen Willie learned to paint by watching the other artists. No one formally taught him how to paint but the more experienced artists sometimes offered suggestions about his paintings. Daniels formed a strong relationship with Livingston Roberts finishing ten to twelve paintings each evening and giving them to Al Black to sell.
When riots broke out in Fort Pierce on April 8, 1968 after Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination, Daniels was arrested for a curfew violation. He was a young man during the Civil Rights Movement and he felt the rage of racism. Like others in his community, he wanted a better life and was willing to work for it. However, the demand for landscape paintings faded in the 1970s and Willie had to find other work.
When Jim Fitch published his article in the 1993-1994 issue of Art and Artists of Florida naming the Highwaymen, Willie was working as a truck driver in Augusta, Georgia, although he was still painting. He was unaware of his recent fame and didn’t know his friends were now making hundreds of dollars for a painting. Willie returned to Fort Pierce in 2001 and once again began painting full time. He was shocked and pleased to find such enthusiasm for his work.
Willie Daniels Biography information: obtained from website thehighwaymentrail.com. This website is a fantastic reference to learn about the 26 Florida Highwaymen artists and their importance to Florida's history.