Artistic Excellence | Timothy David Mayhew

By Bonnie Gangelhoff

The Trumpeter’s Tribe, oil, 36 x 48.

What inspired your winning entry? Based on an inspiring chance encounter with trumpeter swans in their natural habitat, I resolved to dedicate 2010 to the intensive study of them. I began in the winter, doing anatomical studies of specimens in the archives of the Museum of Nature & Science in Denver. When I returned to my studio, I used the drawings and measurements to create a life-size wax sculpture of the head and neck of the swan to use as a painting reference. When spring returned, I began the first of several field trips to western Wyoming to study the swans in their natural environment during different stages of their reproductive and growth cycles. THE TRUMPETER’S TRIBE is the magnum opus resulting from this year of intensive studies.

Where did you study art? I studied the arts at the University of Michigan and at Wayne State University in Detroit. After my formal training, I sought out further training under the guidance of some talented professional artists. I was introduced to landscape painting en plein air by Clyde Aspevig. But, without a doubt, Bob Kuhn has been the biggest influence on me. I studied painting and drawing with Bob for several years, and I still treasure the drawing sessions we had of live animals in studio and zoological settings.

What is your favorite subject matter and why? I am drawn to the excitement of an encounter with any elegant creature during my forays into the backcountry.

What is the best advice you have ever received? The best advice I have ever received was to study the old masters, and I am glad that this advice came early in my career. I have filled dozens of sketchbooks with drawings and detailed notes gleaned from the firsthand study of the paintings of master artists that hang in the great museums of this country.

What is the most meaningful recognition you have received for your artwork? The most meaningful recognition for my artwork was the prestigious Robert Kuhn Award that I received at the 2010 Western Visions Exhibition at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson, WY. The award was an honor of deep significance for me.

What is the one thing people will never see you paint? I used to believe that there were subjects that were not worthy of painting, such as a brick. However, I realized that what elevates a painting into a masterpiece is not so much the subject but how the painting is designed, composed, and how the paint is handled by the artist. This realization was confirmed when I saw a rather powerful panting of a white brick by the Norwegian painter Odd Nerdrum.

Representation: Trailside Galleries, Jackson, WY, and Scottsdale, AZ;

Featured in December 2011.