Emerging Artists | Sally Vannoy

Sally Vannoy, The Patriarch, oil, 18 x 24.

Sally Vannoy, The Patriarch, oil, 18 x 24.

This story was featured in the January 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Last year was a very good year for Sally Vannoy. There was, for example, her acceptance into the prestigious Society of Animal Artists with immediate Signature status. And not long after that, the Hockaday Museum of Art invited Vannoy to participate in A Timeless Legacy, an annual exhibition featuring leading women artists from around the country.

The young Montana artist attributes these distinguished achievements to a lot of hard work and some very important mentors. Among them is western artist Jim Norton, with whom Vannoy studied oil painting alongside acclaimed painters like Grant Redden, Chad Poppleton, and G. Russell Case. “They took me under their wing,” she says. “That was my formal education—learning with these guys. I would never be where I am today if I hadn’t met them.”

One of the best pieces of advice she received? “Jim and Grant would say, ‘I can’t teach you how to paint; I can only teach you how to see,’” recalls Vannoy. Whether portraying landscapes, horses, wildlife, or people, the artist enjoys blending her lifelong drawing skills with careful observations of her subject matter. Thus, plein-air studies are a critical step in her process. “I can’t paint just from photographs,” she says. “Plein-air painting helps so much with portraying color and really seeing what’s happening in nature.” 

Though the artist often depicts wildlife around her home in the Flathead Valley, she views her oeuvre of oils in much broader terms. Visits to a nearby bison range, hikes in the Tetons, backcountry pack trips, and her two young daughters have all inspired Vannoy to put brush to canvas. “My paintings are like a journal of my life,” she says. “I’m painting my experiences. That connects me to each piece.” Find Vannoy’s work at A. Banks Gallery, Bozeman, MT, and Going to the Sun Gallery, Whitefish, MT.

This story was featured in the January 2018 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art January 2018 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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