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The art judge — Hazlehurst Judge Ed Patten finds comfort in painting

From the courtroom to the art studio, Judge Ed Patten of Hazlehurst finds comfort in painting.

Born in Columbia, South Carolina, Patten’s father was a career serviceman in the military. As a child, he often recalls moving from state to state.

When his father retired, they moved to Dexter, in Walthall County, where his dad was from originally.

Patten graduated high school in Dexter then attended the University of Mississippi. There he attended pharmacy school.

After graduating and working as a pharmacist, he decided that it wasn’t what he wanted to do, so he went back to school.

“I took the LSAT and went back to law school,” said Patten. “After school, I moved to Hazlehurst in 1975 and went to work for the Armstrong Firm.”

He worked there for 21 years. Longtime Chancery Court Judge Donald Patterson retired from his seat in the late ’90s.

Patten decided to run for the seat and was elected in 1998. He took office in 1999 and hasn’t had an opponent run against him in an election since.

At 65, Patten has now been a judge for nearly 20 years.

Two years ago, Patten found a new passion and skill by attending an art class at Millsaps College.

“There were two motivating factors that led me to art. One was a fellow chancery judge in Rankin County, John Grant. He’s a very talented oil painter and he started showing me some of his work and it piqued my interests and I began wondering if I could do that,” said Patten. “The other was when I received a phone call from my sister who wanted me to attend an art course at Millsaps with her.”

Patten said he had a rude awakening because when class started the teacher asked everyone to get their stuff ready and he didn’t know what to do.

“I’m telling you a kindergartner with finger paints would be a very close comparison to mine when I first started,” said Patten. “I kept at it and I’ve been painting ever since.”

There are all kinds of mediums in painting. Watercolor was Patten’s favorite.

Watercolor is a painting method in which the paints are made of pigments suspended in a water-based solution.

Patten said he’s progressing with techniques.

“I have three or four people that I will send stuff to when I get finished with a painting and ask them what they think,” he said.

Patten recently entered three paintings in the Brookhaven Regional Art Guild Show at the Lincoln-Lawrence-Franklin Regional Library.

His artwork has been on display throughout the month of October. Two of his paintings won first and third place in the watercolor category. Asian Peasant won first place and Taylor in Snow won third.

This was the first time that he’s ever entered his artwork in a competition.

“It is an absolute distraction from what I do day in and day out. I can sit there and work on a piece of art and be totally removed from being a judge,” said Patten. “Whether it turns out good to my eye or not, I get totally absorbed in planning and thinking about doing the painting.”—