At the age of 59 in 1976, Finster received a vision from God to create 5000 sacred works. After completing this number in 1985, Finster went on to produce over 46,991 works before his death in October 2001.
Finster often related the story of how he came to be an artist.
“One day I dipped my finger in some white paint and picked it up, and when I picked it up, it formed a face before I ever seen a face, and I turned it around to look and see if I had too much paint and there was two eyes, a mouth, a nose, and everything. A whole face. My finger looked like a face. And there was a feeling just came over me and said, “paint sacred art”. I said “Lord, I can’t paint. I don’t have no education in that”. So I took a dollar bill out of my wallet and started posing on the picture of George Washington. Some kids were around watching me work and that was the first time I felt I was an artist.”
The industrious work ethic that defined most of Finster’s life did not diminish in his final years. With the constant demand for his art, and souvenirs for visitors to take home from their trips to his garden home, Finster began doing more work indoors at Paradise Garden or at the new house in nearby Summerville, Georgia. He would make the trip to the garden each Sunday and spend the day greeting visitors, preaching, telling tales, and playing the banjo. Finster’s children and grandchildren helped to meet the demand for his art by aiding with the patterned cut outs and filling in the background color for thousands of his trademark images, while Finster supplied the detail work and final text with paint pens and sharpie markers. Finster’s intentions remained true to his inner voice…to make sacred art to get his messages out to the world.
“There will be rumors and writing about me probably till Jesus comes back. There will be stories about my being a fake, like there were about Noah. There will be stories that all the stuff Howard predicted is coming true. One of the frightening things is sometimes people start worshipping a man like that, and that is a very bad thing to do. They shouldn’t consider me nothing but as a piece on an automobile or an instrument. I’m a bicycle repairman. I’m a retired pastor, and God brought these visions upon me and I have these visions and have to tell ‘em to somebody and this world is all I got to tell ‘em to. My work has a spirit in it. I write it in a spirit and people read it in a spirit and that’s the spirit that unifies all humans.”