Tupper Malone at City Hall

Technicolor Cows

Tupper Malone (Portland Open Studios artist 2002-2006, and 2007 applicant) is exhibiting her watercolors at Portland City Hall, Commissioner Dan Saltzman’s office from March 1 through April 2. Tupper primarily works in watercolor and collage at this point in her career, but has a BFA in Sculpture from PSU where she studied under Don Wilson (Sculpture) and Jim Hibbard (Printmaking). She switched from 3D work to 2D when she suffered an injury that forced her out of sculpture, and although she has since recovered, she found herself ‘completely swallowed up by paint.’

Tupper is a full time studio artist who has enjoyed Portland Open Studios tremendously over the years, finding the experience of demonstrating and interacting with visitors exhilarating.

This is a brief interview with Tupper, conducted via email. You can see more of her work at her web sites:


Q. As an experienced participating artist, what are some of the best parts of Portland Open Studios?

Receiving feedback from the visitors to my studio and sharing the techniques that I develop and use in my work.

Q. What do you hope visitors take away from the experience? Besides  
art, that is.

The sense that art is something they can do, too. It’s not just a chosen few who can be an artist. Everyone in their everyday life is an artist – when they stop to see clouds form, a sunset, the light on water, to appreciate the arch in the neck of a horse, to see the beautiful movement of muscle in the running dog, the stateliness of a purring cat – all of is artistic appreciation.

Q. Can you give us a brief description of your work process?

The kind of work I’m doing right now begins with a “watercolor pour” – pouring liquid watercolor through tissues that are lying on top of watercolor paper. The color that seeps through creates a pattern of color. The second step is to take that patterned watercolor paper, superimpose an image over the colorful pattern, and emphasize that image through positive and negative painting.

Q. How about a brief description of your studio environment, which I  
happen to know is beautiful?

I am very fortunate to have an amazing studio. I rented studio space as a sculptor for nine years. The idea was that I would have a studio at home and be able to give up the rental. I jokingly tell people that we found a studio and a house came with it. The studio was built by the artist Thomas Yerxa, an accomplished oil painter. The space is about 400 sq. feet plus storage. There are skylights and a view of the garden. It is a wonderful and quite place in which to paint and meditate.

[Note: Here’s a photo of the garden and studio that Tupper sent us.]

Tupper’s Studio

Q. Do you think that your background in sculpture has influenced the  
way you work in 2D?

I feel my background in sculpture has made work in two-dimensions somewhat easier for me. Many times I work from my imagination or a photo that I’ve taken. When I’m stumped about which way a line should go, I imagine how it would be if I were sculpting the figure and the lines go where they should. Although, at the same time, I must point out that just as sculpture is part of art, skiing is a part of winter sports. A skier just doesn’t start ice skating and a sculptor just doesn’t start painting. There are techniques in watercolor that I went back to school to learn.

Q. I know you’ve been working with the images of the long horns, can  
you talk about that a little bit?

On a visit to my brother who lived in the Santiam Canyon east of Salem, I discovered a herd of longhorns in a pasture. I stopped and photographed them and have returned several times to capture them again on film. Initially I painted the animals in traditional transparent watercolor. Subsequently I depicted them in the bright colors of pours and watercolor crayon and named the series of paintings “Technicolor Cows.” I admit that I am enchanted by longhorns. There is a massive strength in the animals that is completely contradicted by the leisurely, steady gaze. I feel that there is something that they know and could share with me but, to date, have chosen not to. I cherish what I consider a connection to animals – an empathy and envy all at once. Perhaps this is just my ego projecting itself onto the animals I paint but I prefer to consider it a gift of seeing, of sensing.

Q. Anything else you’d want our readers to know about what you’re  

I try to enter as many exhibitions as possible. The reasons are two-fold: feedback on my work – if it is meaningful to others, and as a means of validation – what I’m spending my life doing makes a difference to others as well as myself. In that way it’s a two-edged sword. I would continue to paint and create no matter what the results might be but not being accepted into competitions can be difficult for an artist. But everybody has to face rejection at times and I am no exception.

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