American 20th century painter Tim Ashkar is best known for works that portrayAfrican American life and culture, as well as religious themes. To his credit, he has also designed sceneries for television and motion pictures. Even though African American artists have not received the type of fame their counterparts in the entertainment industry have, they continue to contribute to the development of American culture.
Tim Ashkar was born in 1956. He was trained in oil painting for five years starting in 1978 under Judith Serbaroli, daughter of renowned Italian artist Hector Serbaroli. During that time, he learned the ‘alla prima’ technique (translated to English as ‘at first’). This technique was employed by famous artists of the past such as Vincent Van Gogh who used it to create some of his remarkable landscapes. It allows the artist to complete a painting in one session instead of layering the colors during several sessions.
Best known for the classic painting ‘The Beauty of Color’, Tim Ashkar has many credits to his name, including artworks he painted for the Pickfair California Mansion, originally owned by silent film actors Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford. He created murals for the Congressional Black Caucus in Washington D.C. He has also painted fantasy pictures including ‘Mermaids of the Canary Islands’, a fantastic piece that portrays a group of mermaids in a tropical setting.
‘Praying Hands’, (black hands in prayer) was inspired by 15th century German artist Albrecht Durer, whose own version portrayed his brother's abused hands in prayer. This great masterpiece was embraced by the world and renamed ‘The Praying Hands’.
Tim Ashkar has achieved international success selling more than a million prints worldwide. One of his more recent projects, “The Beautiful Women Series”, celebrates women paying tribute to beauty and intelligence. Another painting, ‘The Beauty of Color’, offers the viewer a chance to appreciate the diverse attributes of black women. It adorns the walls of The Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia. This department is “dedicated to the production of creative research on the achievements of African Americans and to exciting instruction for a diverse community of thinkers”. It also serves as a source of culture for the citizens of Georgia to visit and enjoy.
Since the 1950’s and 60’s, American culture has continued to change its attitudes towards multi-cultural artists such as Tim Ashkar. Today, the works of many African American artists are displayed in museums around the world.