James Stone has been called âSqueakieâ for as long as he can remember. He was born in Georgetown County, South Carolina, in 1951.
When he was growing up, the family moved every few years or so because his father was a sharecropper and carpenter, and they moved where the work was. Squeakie started work at âhandingâ tobacco (passing the leaves on to a worker who strung it for drying) when he was just five or six years old. As he got older, he was involved in all aspects of the operation, from pulling plants, setting tobacco, hoeing, cropping. And he picked cotton. He worked in a few factories and grocery stores over the years, and began working as a house painter about thirty years ago.
His Uncle Henry âSquirrelâ Stone had been painting folk art for nearly twenty years, when he suggested to Squeakie that he try his hand at painting a picture of a church from a photograph, which was for a woman whoâd commissioned it. Squeakie had always felt that there was something else that he was meant to be doing, but had never worked out what it was until that day. When he painted that first picture, he knew this was it. That day, in 2002, he became a folk artist, although he admits now that he didnât know what he was doing back then. And, as his work progresses, new elements of Impressionism are evident.
If you happen to drive down Squeakieâs way, on the way to Myrtle Beach, you could catch him sitting in his front yard, painting pictures. Itâs what he likes to do the most. He hates it when it rains.