Patrick Blackwell died peacefully in his sleep on Sept. 28, 2023. He was 88. He had been fighting lung cancer for four years. In the weeks before his death, he was attended by his wife, Joyce, his children, and his dog, Oliver. They sang Hank Williams songs and watched some of Patrick’s favorite movies.
Patrick was born on May 7, 1935 in Los Angeles and was adopted at birth by Edward and Marion Blackwell. His father died when Patrick was 12. He lived for a time with family friends before being sent to an orphanage in Blackwell, Okla.
As a teenager, he was taken in by his father’s first wife, Blanche Blackwell, in Oklahoma City. A high school art teacher recognized Patrick’s talent for making pictures. With his encouragement, Patrick attended the Chouinard Art Institute in Los Angeles. After one year, he volunteered for the Army to help finance his schooling. He was primarily stationed in Alaska and served as an operations and intelligence specialist for the 500th anti-aircraft artillery detachment.
With his G.I. benefits and a Walt Disney-funded scholarship, Patrick continued his studies at Chouinard, graduating in 1960. He lived with Ed Ruscha, Joe Goode, and Jerry McMillan, three other Oklahomans who would become lifelong friends.
After graduation, Patrick worked as an illustrator for a greeting card company, then as an art director at the Carson/Roberts advertising agency in Los Angeles. In the mid-1960s, he transitioned to freelance design and illustration, working out of his studio on La Cienega Boulevard. During this period, Patrick painted, took photographs, and made prints that were exhibited in various shows around Los Angeles.
In 1967, he collaborated on a book, The Royal Road Test, with Ruscha and Mason Williams. The book, which catalogues the banal roadside sites on a typical drive through the American West, is part of the permanent collection in the Museum of Modern Art.
In 1968, Patrick moved to New York City with his first wife, Garie, and two young children, Christopher and Anastasia. He was an art director at Doyle Dane Bernbach in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
Soon after moving to New York, Patrick began spending summers in Provincetown and visiting Long Nook Beach in Truro. He was captivated by the Outer Cape and settled here with his second wife, Joyce. They lived in Truro for 24 years, raising their son, Tyler, before moving to the woods of Eastham.
In Truro, Patrick worked primarily as a freelance illustrator. His drawings appeared frequently in the Boston Globe and were featured in the New Yorker, New York Times, and Cleveland Plain Dealer. His work also appeared on greeting cards, museum posters, and clothing. His 1973 print Woodstock Landscape was adapted for use as a greeting card by the Museum of Modern Art.
In his later years, Patrick mentored students in the Provincetown and Nauset school systems, eagerly sharing his knowledge of art, photography, and illustration. He also hosted a weekly drawing group in his Eastham studio that was well attended by local artists. He was recently featured, along with his art school friends, in the exhibit OK/LA at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Oklahoma.
Patrick will be remembered by those who knew him for his warm smile, kind heart, and love of life. He was perpetually optimistic and brightened the world not only for family and friends but also for those he had just met. He was a cherished father, grandfather, friend, neighbor, and mentor who is missed by many.
Patrick is survived by his wife, Joyce (Niemiec) Blackwell of Eastham; three children, Christopher of Pittsburgh, Pa., Anastasia Medeiros of Truro, and Tyler of Darien, Conn.; and six grandchildren, Cameron and Wyatt Medeiros, and Alexandra, Hunter, Clayton and Vivian Blackwell.