Terri Kelly Moyers | Portraits of the West


The Feminine Touch, oil, 40 x 30. painting southwest art.
The Feminine Touch, oil, 40 x 30.

By Nancy Ellis

The adobe house is hidden from the road. Not until you’ve started down the driveway does it come into view, with a backdrop of rolling ranch land and the distant Sangre de Cristo mountains. Painter Terri Kelly Moyers has lived and worked here with husband John Moyers himself a noted painter for more than a decade. It’s easy to see how this tranquil setting located less than an hour from Santa Fe, NM, has inspired both painters.

Like many adobe homes in New Mexico, the simple exterior belies surprising warmth inside, where there is an abundance of art and the accoutrements of a busy lifestyle that includes raising their 5-year-old son Josh. Terri and John (a member of the Cowboy Artists of America since 1994 and the son of another CAA member, William Moyers) shared studio space in the home for many years, “until we simply outgrew it,” she says, and decided to add on a separate studio for John three years ago.

Moyers is excited today as she prepares the family for their annual trek to her homeland Alberta and British Columbia, Canada where they will vacation with relatives and friends and she will have ample time to paint her favorite subject matter, the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Both Terri and John, an avid fisherman, look forward to returning to Canada each year, where Terri was born and raised and where the couple first met in 1979.


Dusty Spring, oil, 40 x 50.
Dusty Spring, oil, 40 x 50.

Growing up in Canada, Moyers was influenced by both the beautiful landscape and the works of one of North America’s renowned landscape and wildlife painters, Carl Rungius [1869-1959], who lived in Banff, Alberta, for many years. Moyers was a teenager when she first saw his paintings. “Rungius painted the Canadian Rockies as they really look,” she says. “I learned from his works the importance of emphasizing the strength and structure of animals and the landscape.”

The walls of the Moyers’ home are lined with a number of small paintings and drawings by Rungius that Terri has acquired over the years. Also hanging there are some of their own paintings, including Terri’s charming portrait of three of the family’s succession of beloved Sheltie dogs. “I’ve always loved painting animals both domestic and wild,” she says, “As a child, I would go to horse and bull sales, do drawings on the spot, and then sell them for a dollar apiece.”


Treasures From Home, oil, 40 x 38.
Treasures From Home, oil, 40 x 38.

An insatiable desire to draw, and “being horse-crazy from the beginning,” are what Moyers remembers most about growing up in the country outside Calgary, where her stepfather raised quarter horses. She never doubted that she wanted to be an artist, but without any real role models, “I wasn’t sure it was a legitimate career,” Moyers recalls. After high school, she attended the Alberta College of Art but was uninspired by the program there and later enrolled in a nearby community college to study interior design.

Then, in the summer of 1978, Moyers convinced her sister to accompany her to a workshop at the Okanagan Game Farm in Penticton, Brit-ish Columbia, taught by Clarence Tillenius, a noted painter from Win-nipeg. “On the first day, Tillenius gathered the group in a log auditorium to see slides of paintings by some of the world’s greatest artists,” she recalls. “I knew im-mediately that I’d found the direction I’d been looking for.”

Lazy Days, oil, 30 x 40.
Lazy Days, oil, 30 x 40.

The following summer, Tillenius joined forces with a prominent painter/teacher from the United States, Robert Lougheed. The two friends invited artists from both sides of the border to paint at the game farm for an entire month. On the roster were Kenneth Riley, Wayne Wolfe, Harley Brown, and John Clymer. Also invited were Terri Kelly, one of Tillenius’ best students, and John Moyers, one of Lougheed’s star pupils.

“It was a wonderful time,” says Terri, recalling that month of painting the Canadian countryside. Camaraderie was high among the artists, and the occasion also marked the beginning of Terri and John’s personal and professional partnership.

Today, the couple often paint the same subject matter. “But John and I each have our
own viewpoint, our own style,” says Terri. “We’re always helping one another.” She says that their ability to critique each other’s work is especially valuable.


Geraniums and Lace, oil, 36 x 24.
Geraniums and Lace, oil, 36 x 24.

Although Moyers was initially drawn to animal subjects, over the years she has grown to love the figure. “I particularly enjoy combining the two, as in Lazy Days,” she says.

Among the awards Moyers has received for her paintings are the Nona Jean Hulsey Buyers’ Choice Award and the Frederic Remington Award (shared with Mehl Lawson) at the 1996 Prix de West show at the National Cow-boy Hall of Fame, Oklahoma City, OK. This fall she made her debut as an invited artist in the Denver Rotary Club’s Artists of America show, CO.

Photos courtesy Pierce Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ; Altermann & Morris Galleries, Santa Fe, NM; and Taos Gallery, Taos, NM.

Featured in November 1997