Ahmad Austin

Museum Gallery, February 3-27, 2022

Internationally recognized artist Ahmad Austin believes that good art is like good music: it makes you feel something. Marked by bold colors, movement, and loose strokes, his paintings are sure to do just that.

Built upon years of formal training, Austin’s personal style emerged when he picked up a palette knife and discovered a new artistic freedom that captured more emotion and energy than he ever experienced while painting with a brush.

You’ll often find Austin painting to the sound of jazz legends like John Coltrane, creating pieces that capture the essence of jazz. “When I’m painting, it’s as if time doesn’t exist,” he said. Unwinding as he creates, Austin’s personality and his style are both relaxed. Yet, he uses quick strokes and scratching techniques that convey a certain energy that comes off the canvas. “I’m very easy going—maybe a little too much,” Austin said. “I think some of the emotions I hold back come out in my paintings.”

Currently, Austin paints portraits of black children by channeling their innocence as well as their challenges that some of them may endure due to the social constructs within our society. These paintings come from years of experience of teaching elementary students in the inner city for over 12 years.

Austin’s work has been showcased worldwide from Italy to Ireland, as well as respected in his home community of Birmingham, Alabama. When he isn’t creating exquisite, award-winning pieces of his own, Austin stays busy teaching others to do the same. By day, he teaches highs school students techniques to express themselves artistically and at night he teaches numerous classes online through his Palette Knife Academy which have been enjoyed nationally and internationally. A patient and encouraging teacher, Austin said his students inspire him with their creativity. Several of his students have developed their own style using the palette knife and have gone on to become professional artists as well. “There’s nothing more rewarding than that,” Austin said.

Whether he’s painting a series of his signature musicians or portraits, Austin’s work is a lot like jazz music—filled with a calming sort of energy that keeps people coming back to it. He plans to keep and inspiring others to do the same for years to come.