Ramsses by Teresa Elliott
When Teresa Elliott was growing up in Texas, she recalls feeling a “soulful connection” to animals. Years later, Elliott would abandon her successful career in commercial art to focus on portraying in paint the creatures she adored as a child. Today, the artist spends her days observing and photographing the cows that mill around the fields near her home. She refuses to use a telephoto lens but instead moves as close as she dares to the bovines and zeroes in on their faces. Once back in the studio, and with the photographs as reference material, Elliott sensitively depicts the animals’ expressions right down to the tiny details, such as the long hairs of their eyelashes. “Cows are animals that have an emotional life,” she says. “Most people just look at them while driving on a highway and don’t think much about them.”Elliott, who lives in the Dallas area, also has a home in the West Texas town of Alpine. There she finds inspiration for the vast blue skies that often form the backgrounds of her paintings. “These are the clearest skies in Texas, and you get an amazing 360-degree view with all the cloud formations,” she explains. Elliott’s works are on view through April 13 at Manitou Galleries in Santa Fe, NM. She also is represented by Edmund Craig Gallery, Fort Worth, TX.
Yellow Bird by Tim Yankosky
Tim Yankosky lives in a San Francisco neighborhood blessed with visits from parrots, hummingbirds, and finches. While such avian treasures help inspire his work, the true origin of his bird images stretches back to the time when his Polish immigrant grandparents raised canaries. Yankosky has fond memories of the yellow singing birds. “I tell my stories and struggles through the birds I paint,” he says. His main struggle came in 1985 when he was diagnosed as HIV positive and, initially, thought he didn’t have long to live. More than 20 years later, Yankosky is considered a long-term survivor. As time has passed, he says, his relatively monochromatic canvases from the early days of his career have evolved into more colorful palettes. “As the struggles in my life have become easier, my birds have become freer, my colors happier,” he says.
In spite of his personal battles, Yankosky is quick to point out that he is not an artist who is intent on conveying any specific message in his works. “I want viewers to take away from the art what they can,” he explains. Yankosky is represented by Hang Art, San Francisco, CA; William Merrill Gallery, Laguna Beach, CA; and TAG art gallery, Nashville, TN.
Giraffa Venustus by Tim Chapman
For Tim Chapman, animals have always had a powerful presence. “They are mysterious, hilarious, and terrifying,” the Arizona-based artist says. “We eat them, worship them, classify them, and dream about them.” In his works, Chapman is intent on reminding viewers that there is much to cause a sense of wonder in Mother Nature’s vast variety of animal species, which he describes as “this prowling, flying, slithering, extended family of ours.”
However, he believes that most people are immune to the strangeness of creatures like giraffes and zebras. They don’t really see how truly odd they are. Thus in his renderings, Chapman enjoys tweaking images and making up entirely new species in hopes that people will come away with a sense of having discovered something new. For inspiration, he turns to figures in art history, such as the surrealists, Hieronymus Bosch, and Giuseppe Arcimboldo, the 16th-century Italian painter who created bizarre portraits of people by incorporating images of animals and vegetables to depict their heads and faces.
Chapman is part of the ART In Embassies Program established by the U.S. Department of State in 1964. His paintings are currently on view at the U.S. Ambassador’s home in Tunisia, Africa. Chapman is represented by Meyer-Milagros Gallery, Jackson, WY; Wilde Meyer Gallery, Scottsdale and Tucson, AZ; and Visions West Gallery, Livingston and Bozeman, MT.
Featured in “Artists to Watch” April 2007