Meet James “Squeakie” Stone

By Leslie Moore

Meet James “Squeakie” Stone

Friendly and down to earth, James “Squeakie” Stone is a folk artist living near Andrews, South Carolina, whose paintings hang in galleries across the southeast and homes as far away as England. Squeakie’s paintings are colorful and fun, featuring subjects that range from his memories of growing up on a farm to photographs he’s seen and liked. He works in acrylics on wood, and his outdoor “gallery” is located about six miles outside of Andrews, South Carolina, on Highway 521, in the front yard of his small home, where he lives with his wife, Angie. Paintings are propped against an older white car in the front yard and most days will find Squeakie in the back yard creating his unique art.

When did you start painting?

My uncle was a folk artist; everyone called him Squirrel. Uncle Squirrel passed away four years ago, but his work is exhibited all over the United States. He started painting about 15 years before he died after he had a dream telling him to paint. Like me, he would put his paintings out by the side of the road for sale. One day, a couple stopped by with a photo of the chapel in Pawleys Island and asked him to paint it for them. Uncle Squirrel didn’t really want to do it and asked me to give it a try. Even though I always liked other people’s work, I had never had any interest in art, more because I didn’t think I could do it. But, I thought about it and finally decided that I would give it a try. The couple liked my work so much that they asked for three more! All my life, I felt there was something else I should have been doing, and when I started painting I finally knew what that “something” was. I loved painting from that first piece and have kept at it. That first painting is still my favorite.

I grew up in the area. My father was a sharecropper, and we all worked hard in the tobacco fields. When I was in the ninth grade, my father got me a job in a local grocery store – I was excited because I thought I wouldn’t have to work in the tobacco fields anymore. But, I was wrong. Between school, my job and farming work, I had no time to get in trouble as a teenager!

Before I started painting pictures, I painted houses for about thirty years. I liked painting houses, but after so many years, I found I didn’t like all the driving and being out in the heat and cold all day. After that first painting of the chapel, I just kept painting at night and on weekends until we moved here about six years ago. My work painting houses got slack, so I started selling my paintings on the side of the road. One week I made more selling paintings than I did painting houses. I told myself if I did that again the next week I wasn’t going back. I’ve been painting pictures full time ever since.

How did you become so well known?

Fran Oxner, former owner of ‘Cuz I Gallery, in Pawleys Island, came to the house to see Squirrel’s paintings and saw mine. She put both in her gallery, and people liked my work. Since then I’ve met quite a few folk artists and learned a lot. One artist told me to never take art lessons, just to do what I do. That’s what folk art is, work from the heart. If I see something I like, I try different things until I figure out how they do it and then use it in my work. At the beginning, most of my paintings were larger, but people have asked for smaller pieces and now I have a range of sizes. I can do most anything people want, but each piece of art will be slightly different. I have a website now, too, where people can see my artwork. A friend of mine, Fran Caldwell, who is also a folk artist, helped me with it.

What do you do when you’re not painting?

I mostly stay around the house. My wife has been ill, and I take care of her. I would like to paint all the time.

To see Squeakie’s work locally, visit Grey Man Gallery in Pawleys Island, Fairview Framers in Lake City, or visit his website, www.squeakiestone.com. If you’re in the Andrews area, Squeakie welcomes everyone to stop and see his work.

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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2 Responses to “Meet James “Squeakie” Stone”

  1. Sean Carter, Daniel Island, SC says:

    Squeakie is definitely one of my favorite Southern folk artists! His works exude the simplicity and ease of living near local Pee Dee and Lowcountry haunts and happenings, and remind me of the many joys I had growing up in nearby Lake City. Throughout the years, he has remained true to his calling – and I chuckle to think I discovered him in an “out west” gallery, when he was playing all the whilst in our backyard at Andrews! Congratulations on the press, well-earned!

  2. I own an original James Stone “Squeakie” painting and I have to say it is one of my favorite paintings! He has such a richness to his naive artwork that really capture early culture. He is one artist that should be in every collection, it never goes out of style. ;)

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