Highwaymen Al Black is one of the original artists from the core group of Florida Highwaymen painters.
Al had the nickname "Blood" and earned a reputation for his ability to sell paintings.
Al started out as strictly selling Highwaymen art for the group's founder Alfred Hair. He often bragged, "If Alfred give me 50 paintings I would sell 50 paintings."
Al was born in 1947 near Jackson, Mississippi. In the early 1960s he left for Fort Pierce to find work.
The future Highwaymen artist landed his first sales job at the Fort Pierce Typewriter Company. It was on a sale call 1964 he met Alfred Hair in 1964 while out on a sales call.
By his time Alfred's landscape painting assembly line was pumping out landscape art and Alfred was always looking for anyone who could sell a painting or prep a board for paint. Alfred convinced Al to quit his job and go to work selling paintings.
He had the sales pitch down.
Like all good sales people Al learned how to read people faces and reactions. If the sale prospect was hostile or said no he would just move on to the next one.
“Good morning, my name is Al Black. I’m representing the Alfred Hair artists. I’d like to know if I can take up some of your time.”
Al didn't have any interest in painting while he was selling for Alfred. But after Alfred's murder in 1970 the Highwaymen assembly line began to fall apart and so did Al's income. He had no paintings to sell.
Al decided to begin painting his own art and sell it on his own. He quickly sought himself how to paint. Al had married and started a family at the time Alfred died and he needed to replace the income.
His diligence eventually paid off and Al was able to support his family with art.
In the 1980s Al's life began to unravel. He became addicted to crack cocaine his wife divorced him. The addiction took over his life and eventually took a toll on his painting and income.
Al would later go to prison for 12 years on fraud charges related to his cocaine abuse. He admits his habit had grown to $1,000 a day.
Al made good use of his time in prison. He was a model inmate and was given access to his art supplies and was allowed to paint. Al also created several wall murals at the two Central Florida prisons he served time in.
During his time in prison Al's painting skills improved greatly. Al's early 70s paintings are sought after but they are fairly simplistic.
Al was released from prison in 2006. He immediately got back to work and is still painting today.