Wayman Adams was born in humble surroundings on a farm near Muncie, Indiana. His father was a livestock breeder and amateur artist whose own interest in painting encouraged his son's early interest in art. In 1904 Adams enrolled at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, where he spent four years. In 1910 he accompanied William Merritt Chase and others on a study trip to Italy; in 1912 he made a similar trip to Spain with Robert Henri. An enthusiastic advocate of alla prima painting, Adams painted in the style of Chase and Henri, often completing a portrait in a sitting of three or four hours. At one point, he maintained studios in Indianapolis, New York City and Philadelphia. During the winter months he traveled to picturesque and exotic settings. In 1916 he made his first visit to New Orleans; thereafter, he spent several winters in the French Quarter, painting portraits and genre pictures of black subjects.
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