Jimmy Lee Sudduth draws on scrap plywood, using pencil, charcoal, or bits of gravel he finds in the street in front of his house. Then he dips his finger in a bucket of his "special mud mixture," which he rubs onto his pictures to give them color and texture.
He taught himself the technique as a small boy, not long after he drew his first picture on a tree. He began coating his drawings with syrup, which preserved them better than shellac. Later, when he didn't have enough syrup, he began mixing sugar water in with his mud, which worked almost as well as the syrup.
As he grew up, Jimmy Lee set aside his art to work as a farm laborer. He married young and had one daughter. After his first wife died, Sudduth married Ethel Palmore and remained devoted to her for more than 50 years until her death in 1992.
Jimmy Lee died on September 2, 2007 at the age of 97, at the Fayette Medical Center in his lifelong hometown of Fayette, Alabama. Mr. Sudduth outlived two wives and a son. He had many relatives in the area around Fayette, and would often entertain them and his many admirers with his exuberant harmonica playing and his painting demonstrations. Even after he was in poor health and was no longer painting, he continued to attract a steady stream of fans and admirers with his warmth and wit.