Earnest Patton


Patton has been carving since the 1960s. His body of work is quite extensive, considering that he continued his work as a subsistence farmer and drove a school bus for manyyears to support his large family. A native of Wolfe County, Kentucky, Patton worked almost exclusively with his pocketknife, and his carvings have highly refined,smooth surfaces. While some similarities exist between Patton’s work and that of Edgar Tolson (1904–1984), the range of each artist’s work differs considerably.Patton carved biblical subjects, such as Adam and Eve with a snake in a tree, but he also portrayed scenes from local life, such as hog killing and coon hunting, figuresfrom pop culture, such as the Lone Ranger, and graceful animal forms. His human faces are all the same, with a fixed gaze, such as a mother giving birth with acompletely blank facial expression, reflective perhaps of the stoic, private world Patton inhabits. Patton is important for his creative vision, his exquisite craftsmanship,and the breadth of his subject matter.