Evan Wilson was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1953. He showed interest in art at an early age when University of Alabama art professor and family friend Richard Brough provided him with painting materials and inspiration. In 1971, Wilson enrolled in the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts to complete high school. There he experimented with various styles of art. After high school, Wilson attended the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore where he met his lifelong mentor, Joseph Sheppard, an internationally known realist painter. Under Sheppard s training, Wilson began his evolution as a realist painter.
After college, Wilson studied at the Schuler School of Fine Arts in Baltimore. In 1978, he was awarded the Greenshields Foundation grant to study painting in Florence, Italy. Over the following twenty-five years, Wilson has honed his technique, which uses broad brushstrokes to create paintings that are immediate and of the moment. A master of painting light and its effects on objects, he often incorporates swatches of sunlight in his interiors. He takes ordinary objects and scenes in life – such as hanging clothes on a line – and makes them elegant. As he stated in the Huntsville Museum of Art catalog to his show, "the fun comes when playing with traditional concepts to create something entirely new." For example, Wilson places casual sunflowers in silver and porcelain vases for a fresh interpretation.
Wilson extended the realism tradition into a new realm when he painted a series of canvases depicting baptisms in the Gees Bend area of Alabama. The works have a "timeless, spiritual quality" that viewers have responded to with emotion.