Artists’ Studios | Tim Solliday


Text by Bonnie Gangelhoff  ·  Photos by Jeff Berlin

Tim Solliday at his studio in Pasadena, CA.

Tim Solliday at his studio in Pasadena, CA.

This story was featured in the August 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art August 2015 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!

Describe your studio. The studio is located in Old Town, and it’s at the top of a 90-year-old church. When it was built in 1926, the First Baptist Church Pasadena was one of the largest and most significant churches in the city. The room I use for my studio has the look of an old medieval room, with high ceilings and beautiful arched windows with stained glass that go all the way around the room. There is a great deal of space for producing large paintings, with an easy ability for me to move around. I had my own lighting installed to simulate outdoor light as much as possible. I am up in a tower, which provides me with a great amount of isolation. In other words, it’s an ideal studio.

What elements were important to you in choosing the studio? First of all, the amount of room in the space, and secondly, it was important how the room was laid out, with everything easy to get to. Isolation from everything else going on in the building was also important, as was the ability to light the space in the way I wanted and needed it.

You have worked in two other studios in the area that are linked to legendary artists. One belonged to Frank Tenney Johnson and the other to William Merritt Chase. Is it important to you to have a studio with some history? It’s a benefit to have a certain amount of history in a studio because of the inspirational elements that it adds to a place. But these things fade after a while. Mostly when there is a history to an art studio, it ends up meaning that it has practical and aesthetic elements that make for an ideal space.

Inside Tim Solliday's studio in Pasadena, CA.

Inside Tim Solliday’s studio in Pasadena, CA.

What artists have influenced you? My 
first teacher, Theodore Lukits; Frank Brangwyn, E. Martin Hennings, and most of the great American outdoor painters who painted from life in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

How do you describe your style of work? Obviously it is very western in subject matter. But my work is a combination of several styles, which are all based on some form of information from life and imagination. The Taos School has had a great impact on me aesthetically and culturally. Much of my work comes from my plein-air studies and my drawings from life. When putting a preliminary sketch together, a lot is done from the imagination but based on my work from life. This allows a sense of my own personality to be invested in the piece. I never want the painting to look stiff or restricted. I have inculcated some elements of the classic principles of mural painting, so as to cause the work to carry well from a distance.

What kinds of things do you keep in your studio? I have many good reference books. I have several paintings by my teacher, Theodore Lukits, and works by other artists like Steve Huston, Quang Ho, and a few others. But mostly I have many old books, pottery, saddles, chaps, hats, prints, rugs, and blankets.

When you are working in the studio, do you listen to music? I enjoy listening to classical, country, instrumentals, and folk music, including some from Ireland.

If your studio were on fire, what one thing would you save? As many books and drawings as I could carry. I think drawings are more important than paintings most of the time.

Tim Solliday's studio in Pasadena, CA.

Tim Solliday’s studio in Pasadena, CA.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not painting? I read and spend time with loved ones.

What is one place people will never 
find you? People will never find me at any talks by motivational speakers. I want to be motivated by life, not someone else’s formula for life.

Where do you take people when they come to visit you? I take them to some of the old buildings in Los Angeles—buildings that have great old-school murals by artists such as Dean Cornwell. I also take them to the Los Angeles Public Library downtown and to see the Maynard Dixon paintings at the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, which is part of the Autry National Center.

Maxwell Alexander Gallery, Culver City, CA; Trailside Galleries, Scottsdale, AZ, and Jackson, WY.

Featured in the August 2015 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art August 2015 print issue or digital download Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!