By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times
Mychal Hicks, a studio artist with autism from Birmingham, AL, expresses his art through the love he has for others. “I’ve always had an interest in art. I took art classes throughout my childhood in school,” he said.
As a studio artist Hicks is known for his painting of individuals and Wheel of Fortune Game show puzzles.
“I love to draw people. Everybody that I’ve drawn are people that I actually know. Drawing people allows me to tell their story while I’m having fun doing it,” said Hicks.
To create his pieces, Hicks takes photos with his IPhone of the person he’s painting, draws them on a canvas and paints them using acrylic paint. Adjacent to his subjects Hicks leaves room to insert a bio of the individual and the relationship he has with them.
The artist said it’s time consuming to draw people in person. Although his paintings look identical to the original photo, he always requests his subjects to wear simple and suitable clothing which makes it easier for him to draw.
“I tell people to wear appropriate clothing because at times I may have art shows at a church,” he said.
Asked some of his most memorable paintings he replied, “I have to say my Red Couch Collection. I completed it in 2018 and it became so popular I still add to that collection today.”
The Red Couch Collection consists of individuals he had come across in Birmingham and his visits to new restaurants. He made sure to place everyone on or near a red couch giving every painting a powerful, passionate and energetic feel. This collection drew the attention of every attendee of the Triumph Services Open House and Art Show in 2018 on the south side of Birmingham. He sold all 10 paintings within an hour of the show starting.
“This was the first time I included bios in my artwork. I was able to include my relationship with the person I painted,” he said. “That’s what captured everyone’s attention. At that show I only had 10 pieces and I sold all of them.”
He recently completed the Golden Couch Collection back in April which is based on the Red Couch framework with people standing near a gold couch.
Hick’s loves creating paintings centered on Wheel of Fortune, a game show that contestants solve word puzzles to win cash and prizes determined by spinning a giant carnival wheel.
“I do the Wheel of Fortune puzzles because I want to be on the show one day and since I love the show so much I wanted to draw and paint the puzzle board and create my own. I make the puzzles in a funny way to make people laugh.”
Hicks, 29, had been drawing since the age of 5 and his career didn’t begin to blossom until 2012 when he took art classes at Studio by the Tracks, a gallery for adult artists with autism in Irondale, AL. During art shows artists receive 60 percent of any sale of their works.
At Studio by the Tracks, Hicks interacts with other individuals with autism while expanding his abilities to create more artwork.
“Being an autistic artist is a strong suit for me because people out there get to see what people with autism can really do. Although every individual is different they can still create artwork if they put their mind to it,” he said.
Hicks grew up on the west side of Birmingham as the only child in a single parent household with his mother Audrey Moore. He attended N.H. Price Elementary School and Green Acres Middle School. After graduating middle school Hicks attended Fairfield High Preparatory School where his senior year became “frustrating,” he said.
“It was hard for me to learn, I didn’t have a peer assistant and I was taking algebraic connections which was difficult for me,” he said.
After graduating high school is 2011, Hicks enrolled into Lawson State Community College where he had interest in commercial art which focuses on general principles and techniques in art. At the time the courses weren’t offered so Hicks was placed in commercial food classes. He soon withdrew and focused on art and began one hour art classes at Studio by the Tracks.
On his spare time Hicks likes to explore new restaurants and try new meals. “I make a lot of friends at restaurants I go to and that inspire my artwork.”
Hicks names Whataburger, Chick-Fil-A, Panera and Walk-Ons as his favorite restaurants.
“At Walk-Ons I have and painted several employees free of charge and they love their portraits. You can go into the restaurant and see some of them hanging,” said Hicks.
In June the employees and store manager of Walk-Ons located in Hoover’s Stadium Trace, hosted a small ceremony for Hicks and gifted him a $500 gift card to Forstall Art Center and Custom Framing located in Birmingham, AL. This was their way of showing their appreciation to Hicks for being a friendly customer and offering remarkable paintings to the employees.
Hicks said he met the owner and individuals that work in their corporate office and was interviewed alongside the general manager, Michael Miller of Walk-Ons, as well as the servers.
“They usually do a thing call a WOW spotlight [for] employees but they ended up spotlighting me. They gifted me that gift card so that I could buy some art supplies,” said Hicks.
To learn more about Mychal Hicks and his artwork visit Mychal Hicks Photography and Artwork at https://www.facebook.com/MychalHicksPhotosandArt/)