William Hemmerling, 66, whose portraits and paintings of African American life attracted admirers around the country, died Monday at his Ponchatoula, La., home after a two-year battle with cancer.

A self-taught folk artist, Mr. Hemmerling often used recycled materials, painting on discarded wood and other found materials (see his work via http://go.philly.com/hemmerling). In 2005, he was selected to create the poster for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. He had also been honored by the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Northshore Regional Endowment for the Arts, and the African American Heritage Museum in Aurora, Ill.

His agent, Carol Siekkinen, said he wandered into her gallery several years ago "saying he was getting ready to retire and he needed money and he thought he could paint." Since then, she said, more than 1,000 people have bought Mr. Hemmerling's works. - AP