A masterful stroke transforms blank canvases into masterpieces. This is the life of painters, some of our culture’s most creative folks. Painters are masters of viewing the world through a different lens; trees and skies are awakened on their canvases. The world dances. Excellent painters are like Whitney Houston’s voice in the ’90s: stirring, poignant, soulful.

Art is also lucrative. Paintings appreciate in value as they age, unlike cars, houses and necklaces. One of the first things Swizz Beatz teaches his artists and colleagues, including his wife Alicia Keys, is the value of art. Even media moguls realize the power of paintings. “Diddy will call me for a little advice on a painting,” Beatz told The New York Times. “He has a lot of amazing Peter Beards that I’m trying to get away from him.”

But art isn’t exclusive to the wealthiest among us. There is an elite legion of accessible black women with a knack for watercolors and acrylics. We don’t have to visit major auction houses to purchase their work, either. No cheese and wine at Art Basel Miami Beach or the Armory. A lot of their paintings are available through one-to-one selling markets, including Etsy and eBay.

When Americans envision painters, we see Vincent van Gogh and Jean-Michel Basquiat, but the black women featured in this list are reimagining our existence through paint. They are worth highlighting.

Mickalene Thomas

Mickalene Thomas

New York-based artist Mickalene Thomas is an exquisite painter. Instead of just using oils and acrylics, Thomas incorporates rhinestones and enamel in her work. The Yale alumna reimagines women by expanding idealistic notions of beauty and popular culture to capture our complexities. Her work has been featured in solo and collaborative exhibitions from Vermont to France.

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