Catching Up With… Tim Solliday


By Bonnie Gangelhoff

In February 2004, Southwest Art published a feature story on California-based painter Tim Solliday. At the time, Solliday was training his painterly eye on the landscape, especially Southern California’s natural wonders. He captured on canvas everything from the Golden State’s grand sycamores to its sand, sea, and rocks. Meanwhile, Solliday had begun taking informal instruction in life drawing from well-known painter Steve Huston, though few of his collectors knew it at the time.

Recently we caught up with Solliday after seeing a new direction emerge in his work. Reached by phone in May, the artist confirmed that he is now spending the majority of his time creating figurative paintings. “I’m taking landscape painting and combining it with the type of western figurative art that I’ve always wanted to do,” Solliday explains. “I’ve always felt that the figure was the most difficult to paint and, partly because it is difficult, I wanted to master it.”

To some observers today, Solliday’s new work may bring to mind historic Taos artists such as W. Herbert Dunton and E. Martin Hennings, painters who shared a love of the mystical quality of the New Mexico terrain as well as its native peoples. It comes as no surprise that Solliday lists Dunton and Hennings among his artistic heroes—a list that also includes prominent illustrators such as Frank Brangwyn and Dean Cornwell.


While he still keeps a hand in landscape work, Solliday believes that the artistic change has been good for him. “I think figurative work moves the soul,” he argues. “The greatest creation is man, not trees or mountains.” Nonetheless, he notes, trees are still regular elements in his new works. “I think they keep the painting grounded,” he adds.

So far the reaction to his new artistic direction has been positive, he says. And if auction prices are any indication, he must be right: In 2006 his work WATER’S EDGE, depicting two Indian figures on horseback, set a personal record for the artist by selling for $47,150 at an Altermann Galleries auction held in Santa Fe, NM.

“I feel enlivened and more inspired,” Solliday says. “I feel like I am living up to my potential. People always limit themselves with what they feel comfortable with, and I didn’t want to do that. This change has given me a greater sense of confidence.”

Featured in July 2008