Emerging Artists | Amy Elizabeth Lay

Amy Elizabeth Lay, Watchful Three, oil, 30 x 48.

Amy Elizabeth Lay, Watchful Three, oil, 30 x 48.

This story was featured in the January 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  January 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

As a child, Amy Elizabeth Lay says she had a “bad habit” of bringing home fledgling birds, squirrels, snakes, and other critters she’d find around her family’s mountain ranch in Oregon. Her great-grandparents homesteaded the land more than a century ago. “I feel like I come from a long line of people who are in love with wildlife,” she says.

Lay’s lineage helps explain not only her interest in the fauna she paints today but also her vocation as an artist, which she likens to “being given the Golden Ticket as a child.” Artwork decorated the walls of her childhood home, and Lay’s parents, both artistic, encouraged her to create. “Art was part of our vocabulary,” says Lay, “something to be appreciated, thanks to my parents and grandparents.”

Primarily self-taught, Lay painted with watercolors for many years before transitioning to oils. “I have such feelings of loyalty to the purity of watercolor that I try to keep the oils now in that visual realm,” she says. “I also try to keep my subjects vibrant, simple, and alive, like I see the animals.” The artist, whose style has been described as powerful, loose, and nontraditional, often adds bright pops of unexpected color such as red, indigo, or turquoise that accentuate animals’ features and their surroundings. 

Today, Lay lives in Jackson, WY—a fitting haven for the animal lover, who is learning to paint the region’s “big critters” like bison, bears, and moose. “We are all observers here,” she says. “It’s been an amazing, happy place to be.”

See Lay’s work at Manitou Galleries, Santa Fe, NM; Mountain Trails Gallery, Jackson, WY, and Park City, UT; Horton Fine Art, Beaver Creek, CO; and www.amylay.com. —Kim Agricola

This story was featured in the January 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  January 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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