About the Artist—Sherman Watkins

My artistic ability is a gift from God

A recently completed replica of the world’s most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. The painting is actual size and painted on the same material that Leonardo painted on 500 years ago.
Photo of Painting

Mr. Sherman Watkins, a Hampton, Virginia resident and a Native American, was born in Danville, Virginia. He graduated from Southside High School in Blairs, Pittsylvania County, VA. Mr. Watkins is a technical graduate from the Refrigeration and Air Condition School in Wichita Falls Texas. He is also an alumnus of the University of Arizona, University of Oklahoma, City Colleges of Chicago, Bellevue College(University now) in Nebraska, Danville Community College of Virginia; and he holds an AASD from Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia.

Mr. Watkins retired from the United States Air Force as a Professional Illustrator with the Space Shuttle program; he was also employed at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for 15 years.

Mr. Watkins, an internationally known artist, has exhibited his artworks in the United States, and Europe. Several of Mr. Watkins’ art Pieces are on permanent display at the Durham Museum (formerly known as the Durham Western Heritage Museum ), the Great Plains Black History Museum, and the Omaha Opportunities Industrialization Center, all located in Omaha, Nebraska. He received special recognition for a life-like portrait of President Johnson. Mr. Watkins has painted other such notables as Sidney Poitier, Elvis Presley, Bill Cosby, and Oprah Winfrey. Although his accomplishments are many, Mr. Watkins holds two complements especially dear. In 2000, he won a gold medal at the National Veterans Creative Arts Festival held in Washington, D. C. and his winning painting hung in Constitution Hall; he topped himself by winning "Best of Show" in Minneapolis Minnesota at the same Festival in 2002. Another of Mr. Watkins’ greatest accomplishments was being selected to hang one of his paintings in the Smithsonian’s Traveling Exhibition, “A Price for Freedom,” From 2000 through 2004; the painting illustrates the ultimate price Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had to pay for his commitment to the Civil Rights struggle.

Mr. Watkins completed a 42-piece Kaleidoscope of the Civil Right era, on the life and death of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He also appeared in two scenes of the movie Cold Mountain, portraying a slave in the fields cutting hay.

He is a Cover Artist for JRRD - The Department of Veterans Affairs Journal of Rehabilitation Research and Development. Listen to an excerpt from a JRRD PodCast where he is interviewed.

One of Mr. Watkins’ latest projects is a commemorative work for the 30th Anniversary of United Support of Artists for Africa’s “We Are the World”.

Mr. Watkins devotes much of his time to illustrating the Black experience in America.