Pauline Willis (1946-2006) was born in Lake Arthur, Louisiana, at the home of her maternal grandparents. She executed her first oil painting while visiting her aunt and uncle in the summer of 1957. Willis graduated from high school in 1964 and married in 1965. Over the next twelve years, she had five children. In 1977, only one month before her last child was born, Willis' ten-year-old eldest child died, a tragedy that affected both her life and art. Willis' work, even in her own words, has been called 'Outsider Art.' She did have a background in art, having studied at the Commercial School of Art in Baton Rouge and McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana.