Originally from the Hazard, Kentucky, Wayne Hensley is a true Appalachian artist. Appalachia is often associated with coal mining since it has often been a way of life for the people who live there. Coal has always been part of Wayne’s life. He is the son of a coal miner who was killed working underground in the deep mines of Perry County, Kentucky. Many of his relatives were coal miners. Wayne himself worked 20 years in the mining industry. Mr. Hensley was a member of the mine rescue team at Jewel Smokeless Coal in Grundy, Virginia. In 1977, he and his team members won the United States National Mine Rescue Championship. Hensley later moved back to Kentucky where he was employed at Gatliff Coal Company. While working there, he served as a safety inspector, mine foreman, and Assistant Superintendent of Mines. In these jobs he crawled on his hands and knees in the coal mines many years. In 1996 the mines closed, and Hensley went back to college to obtain his degree in art education.
Wayne began exploring art seriously in the late seventies. It was during this time he taught himself to draw and paint. He began producing professional quality work in the early 1980’s. He also began to produce limited-edition art prints during this time. Much of Mr. Hensley’s art work revolves around his familiarity with the life of Appalachian coal miners. He is often referred to as an “Appalachian Realist” since his works look realistically depict life in the Appalachians. One example of this is “The Art of Mining”. It is an original still life oil painting. It is technically accurate, displaying many of the tools and common items coal miners use daily. The hard hat in the painting is one he wore daily in the mines. This painting was completed and limited- edition prints were produced from it during the time Wayne worked in the deep mines as a foreman. The chipping hammer, anemometer, flame safety lamp, wheat battery and other items were the actual ones he had used in the mines. Wayne’s painting “Dinnertime” depicts a scene common on strip mine jobs: miners taking their lunch break often sit in the loader bucket to eat. Both were released as a limited-edition prints.
Wayne’s work is diverse. While much of his work focuses on Appalachian subject matter, he also explores other topics and styles using varied media. The subject matter he uses typically includes portraits, people in a specific theme or scene, landscapes, large cats, and still lifes. He creates art using oil paint, acrylic paint, pastel, pencil, ink, and charcoal, as well as other media.
Mr. Hensley received the Eastern Kentucky University Outstanding Art Educator Award in 2000. He has also received the Campbellsville University Award for Excellence in Teaching. He appeared on a Lexington news channel for his exceptional work in education during teacher appreciation week in 2010.
Wayne’s works are found all around the United States as well as several foreign countries. He has sold numerous original works as well as prints of his originals. Hensley lives with his wife Lee in Williamsburg, Kentucky, where he currently teaches art at Whitley County High School. He sells his work through Hensley Studios, portrait commissions, galleries, and shows around the region.
PO Box 2046
Williamsburg, KY 40769