Larry Dell Alexander is an American artist, Christian author and Catechist from Dermott, Arkansas in Chicot County. Alexander is best known for his creations of elaborate colorful, and black & white “pen and ink” drawings in his “crosshatching”, or “hatching” technique, and his acrylic paintings. His works not only depict the African-American experience but also the experiences of people throughout American history itself. He also received notoriety and a personal presidential thanks for his personal rendition of a “Clinton Family Portrait” oil painting which he gave to U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1995. It is now a part of the collection at the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is also known for the Arkansas Schools Tours that he did between 1996 and 2006. He has written several bible commentary books on the Christian Bible and in recent years he is better known for his writings and teachings on Christianity.
Early life and career
Born in the small rural town of Dermott, Arkansas to Robert and Janie Alexander, Larry is the fourth of ten children and the second of the union of his parents. His father was a truck driver, and his mother was a beautician. Alexander began drawing at about the age of four. He never received any formal art training during any level of his schooling while growing up, as none was available in his small rural hometown. After graduating from Dermott High School in May 1971, Alexander moved to Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he studied Architectural Residential Design at Pines Vocational Technical School, now Southeast Arkansas College. In later years he also attended Richland College in Dallas, Texas where he studied AutoCAD.
Today, six pieces of his work from his popular “Dermott Series”, a series of paintings he painted about his childhood home of Dermott, are now a part of the permanent collection at the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Alexander’s work is mostly influenced by his experiences in life, such as growing up in the rural south during the 1950s and 1960s, as well as his life in Detroit, Michigan during the 1970s and 1980s.
Alexander moved to Detroit, Michigan after two years of school in Pine Bluff to seek employment in his chosen field. However, he was unsuccessful in the short run, and instead, he ended up finding work in a Chrysler auto assembly plant and became fascinated with the innerworkings of cars. This led him to become a certified mechanic, a craft he worked at for the next seventeen years. He ultimately met and married his wife, Patricia while living in Detroit, and they moved their family to Irving, Texas where he opened his own auto repair shop and operated it until 1991.
Encouraged by Patricia, he began using his art talent for the first time in fifteen years. His career as a professional artist can be traced back to this point as he developed his “pen and ink” style that he calls “crosshatching”, and used it to create several lines of greeting cards under his, now defunct, “Alexander Greeting Cards Company” name. He coined the phrase “The Expressions Line” for his first line of greeting cards in 1991, but did not trademark the name. As a result, Hallmark Cards now has used the name on a line of their cards since 1997. His line should not be confused or associated with their product line. Between 1991 and 1994 he created over 80 pieces of “pen and ink” fine art, including “Renetta”, “Girlfriends”, “Cowboy Fiddler”, “Young Kennedys”, and “Roundup”. He also used many of his drawings on his “Fine-arTshirt” T-shirt line of the mid-nineties.
Alexander is also a “realist painter” who works in a variety of other mediums including oils, acrylics, and watercolors. He is a self-taught artist who chooses mostly to do exhibits in venues that provide mainstream exposure to a large variety of people such as festivals, schools, malls, libraries, banks, art institutions, and even U.S. Post Office branches on occasion.
The Dermott Series
In early 1996 Alexander finished and released his popular “Dermott Series”, a 20 piece collection of oil and acrylic paintings that offered a nostalgic look back at his childhood of growing up in rural southeast Arkansas. The paintings feature images of people, buildings, and sites of Dermott, Arkansas, such as a cotton gin, his childhood house, where he went to school, and other images. Alexander said at the time that, “I did the Dermott Series for many personal reasons, and I’m overwhelmed by the response this collection is creating here in Texas”. The series includes, “Birthplace”, “Where I grew up”, “Picking Cotton”, “Cotton Gin”, “Hot Grits”, “In the kitchen with mama”, and the old Chicot County High School, among others.
Alexander lives in Texas with his wife Patricia. They have four children: Ken, Leandra, Kawanna, and Patrice.