Information about Art from Death Row

Death row inmate Gerald Marshall: The creation of an artist

I came to death row in November of 2004 lost personally. My skills that teachers had honed thoughout my adolescent years washed away by a few short years of drug use. I had to reteach myself to focus, just to write and read. 

In 2005 I was sent to level two, where they house prisoners who violate some rule they have made for a bogus case. There I met a guy named Lil Jack. Since he has been executed, Lil Jack and I were aqcuainted on another pod and he was like a brother figure. He then, after my asking him about drawing, tod another prisoner named Lil Flo to help me learn to draw. That day when I went back to my cage, there was a package of information for me. Flo, who has since killed his self, sent me stupmps made of rolled up toilet paper, graph paper, and a long instruction hwo to draw. And so I did. 

Over the years I would really teach myself how to draw by studying art books, by Lee Hammond, or Carrie Stuart Sparks among a host of other artists. I would now consider myself a work in progress when it comes to my art, but this is how I learned and started to do art. 

Most art that I do, or other prisoners on Texas death row, is done with the same tools. We all use pencils that they sell at the prison commissary. These Number 2 pencils sometimes are darker while others are lighter. In this way we are able to mix certain tones, or give a picture a darker background. Some prisoners use deodorant to make darker tones, and some use baby oil to get that same texture and darkness in their drawings. We all use the same tools when doing pencil work but may use different drawing techniques. 

The prison sells one form of paint, water colers, cheap water colors. Most prisoners, including myself, paint with color pencils. Most of the art is done with this. First I buy the color pencil, then I break each color pencil down, after it is broken down add hot water to the color pencil lead, then let it sit. After some time the lead is soft, then you can smash the color pencil up and it turns into paint. Painting this way is how we achieve the bright and vibrant colors in the art pieces.