Skip to main content

Earnest Patton

Earnest Patton was born into a subsistence farming family in 1935, in Campton, Kentucky. The oldest of four boys, Earnest was forced to leave school after second grade to work on the farm. By his own account, he began carving in 1968, prompted by seeing the work of fellow Wolfe County native Edgar Tolson on display in Campton at the medical clinic of Dr. Paul Maddox. While his style is derivative of Tolson’s, it is easily distinguishable by the facial and bodily features of his human figures. Patton’s work encompasses a wide range of subjects, including Biblical scenes, Uncle Sam, popular culture, and animals. 

Patton works at a measured pace, which he attributes to “nerves.” He carves for periods of time and then takes extended leave to focus on other matters. The artist prides himself on his technique; he does only the most rudimentary work with an axe or saw and completes most of the work with a pocket knife.