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Meet the “outdoor artist”

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Albany/HV: Meet the “outdoor artist”
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Painting can be seen as a fairly ordinary pastime, but as our Vince Gallagher explains, sometimes the method can be much more unusual than expected.


HUDSON, N.Y. -- Meet Earl Swanigan, a familiar sight here on Warren Street in Hudson. Many know him as the man who paints. He has been doing it since he was ten on the advice from his uncle.

“He said, ‘Earl, if you want to be an artist, just take your time, and if you make a mistake, erase it and keep on trying until you get it right,’" said Earl.

That's exactly what he did, and for the last seven years, he has "taken it to the streets."

"Just a couple of blocks down there used to be a little spot called ‘John Doe’ and in that little area right there, sometimes I used to be inside his studio, and he said ‘Earl you'd better off putting your stuff on the sidewalk,’" said Earl.

So now he's known as the "outdoor artist." He sells his artwork right out on the street, where people going by can get a close up of his work.

"Instead of drawing a regular dog on four legs, I make them do more human things, like for instance this dog is walking upright," said Earl.

You could say Earl is literally a street artist. Not only does he work out of this neighborhood, he uses elements from it as well.

"A guy tore his house down and he gave me the wood slate from his house, so I decided to use it and I've been doing pretty good with it," Earl explained.

And wood can become a work of art

“At one time I started to paint on canvas, but the guys that have been buying from me told me to just keep recycling wood," said Earl.

And those rough edges are just part of the appeal. Earl is somewhat of a Hudson celebrity. His work even finding its way onto t-shirts found at a downtown business.

"Earl's the real deal, he's a real outsider artist and I think he's going to be in art history books," said Joe Ribar, a business owner.

"When I moved up here about two years ago I opened up a store, and I talked about buying one, I bought one and I think it sold the same day," said Ryan Lapoint, buyer/seller.

His sidewalk business is open year round, rain or shine, hot or cold...

"I just put on about four five pairs of pants, about four shirts, put a hat on my head and come on out here," said Earl.

Where sometimes, it can be good to be an "outsider."

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