Award-winning artist Brian Timmer has his own gallery in Cody, Wyoming, where he sells his oversized paintings up front and paints in his studio out back.
When Brian Timmer was a teenager in Wayland, Michigan, a friend gave him oil painted and thus sealed his fate. “I said to myself: ‘Now I’m a painter'”, he says. And so, from that moment on, he was.
Today, Timmer, now 42 and living in Cody, Wyoming, with his wife, multimedia artist, Betsy Timmer, has his own gallery, where he sells his oversized paintings up front and paints in his studio outside. ‘back.
It was not planned, this ideal gallery-workshop situation, nor the move to Cody, nor even the style of painting for which he is best known today. Like the art of creating itself, he prefers to let intuition – and a guiding force from above – lead the way. After earning a bachelor’s degree in painting, Timmer had given up art to pursue a master’s degree in theology. It was on a whim, or by following this guiding force, that Timmer decided to start painting seriously again.
East Side Mural
Then living in Lawrence, Kansas, he decided “out of the blue” that he would try to do a landscape painting. “I did not paint regularly. I had never painted a landscape. I had no idea what I was doing. My undergraduate art work was mostly abstract work. Landscapes seemed boring to me.
Over the next few weeks, late at night, with an image of the Flint Hills on his iPad next to him, Timmer moved streaks of acrylic paint around a canvas set up in the corner of his basement, filling the space of ultramarine blue, crimson red, cadmium yellow and shades of green.
“Acrylic paints dry instantly and provide a more energizing lookrgetic, gestural and sometimes abstract quality of the brushstroke,” he says. When it was finished, just for fun, he posted it on his Facebook page. He sold out right away and then he started getting extra commissions. He continued to paint these large Kansas-inspired landscape scenes; over time they grew on him and the opportunities kept coming. Soon he switched to water-based oils. “They act like oils, dry like oils, but clean like acrylics,” he says. And they allow her to do “subtle skies” — and use not-so-subtle pops of color like bright pink Luminous Opera.
Clarks Fork Canyon
He was named Lawrence’s Top Artist in 2018, but before he could accept the award, Timmer and his wife and two children, then aged 4 and 6, had moved to Cody, to be near family. . Things fell into place even before he arrived. A downtown studio-gallery space opened up, his Lawrence house sold out in five hours, and someone called and asked if he would consider renting his Lawrence studio space before he even had had the chance to register him with an agent.
Now that he and his family are settled in Cody, his scope as an artist has continued to expand. These days, with more landscape commissions than he can handle, he is painting abstracts again and also experimenting with collage.
One of his recent pieces, Everyone needs a hero, features a photo of John Wayne as its centerpiece, with random images ripped from history books – a house on fire, trains about to crash, a damsel in distress – floating around him. It came together like everything else for Timmer: naturally and intuitively. “One of Cody’s TV stations is called GRIT. I love watching old westerns. I love watching John Wayne in those movies for the same reasons everyone else does: the way he talks and handles things. .
Yet despite all of his extensive landscape paintings and now also a John Wayne piece, Timmer still does not consider himself a Western artist. “If you look at traditional Western art, I’m not that kind of artist,” he says. “I don’t do realism and I’ve never painted cowboys and Indians. But I’m fascinated by the people and the culture here, and I’m trying to find my voice in the middle of it all. Painting Wyoming is a challenge. The landscape is so technical and diverse with rock and sagebrush. I understand why, historically, western art has been very realistic, because it’s a way of managing information.
Every morning, he goes to the studio to paint. If it’s winter, when the gallery is quiet, he could play a western. Or he’ll play music through “those great Monitor Audio Silver RS6 speakers” (he prefers John Prine and Robert Earl Keen, “whose Americana style reflects the simplicity of everyday life”). And he will probably drink coffee (“peaberry!”). He will approach the canvas, take a brush and start. Most likely it will be a landscape, maybe even something just outside. “I can’t believe I’ve resisted painting landscapes for so long,” Timmer says, dozing in a puddle of cerulean blue. “I never tire of these scenes of big skies. I love it.”
Excerpt from our April 2022 issue
Photography: (All images) courtesy of Brian Timmer; (Cover picture): We Americans