Tilly Woodward graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover, holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from the University of Kansas. She is Curator of Academic and Community Outreach at Grinnell College’s Faulconer Gallery, and Founding Director of the Pella Community Art Center (1989-2007). Her work has been exhibited in more than 191 museums and galleries nationally and can be found in museum, corporate and private collections in Israel, Ghana, Uganda, India, and throughout the United States. Collections include the Addison Gallery of American Art, Des Moines Art Center, Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Meredith Corporation, University of Iowa Museum of Art, West Publishing and Vermeer Manufacturing. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including two Fellowships for Drawing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has initiated many arts outreach projects designed to help communities address specific social issues, foster creativity, build tolerance and compassion. She is well known for her highly realistic, meticulously detailed oil paintings.
The farm I grew up on has been in our family since 1849. My early relationship with the world was largely solitary and largely visual. I spent a lot of time looking at the things around me-- soil, sky, animals and plants in all stages of life and decay. These things were as important to me as the people I knew, who were limited to my family and the people who helped us farm until I went to school at age six.
I don’t live on the farm anymore. I have a nice lot in town with a beautiful but illegal chicken coup, a selection of trees and bushes that I love and flowers I try not to kill. My days are busier than when I was a child, but I still spend as much time as I can just looking closely at things. There is so much that is uncertain in the world. I find it a comfort to take time to see one thing clearly, or a part of one thing clearly, each day. I think of what I do as witnessing.
I believe in art as a method of sharing information, initiating communication, and enabling relationships between individuals and communities. I paint what I see. It feels right to look closely and celebrate objects through observation, meditation and documentation, giving voice to their inherent meaning and beauty. Northern Renaissance paintings are particularly interesting to me-- I like the attention to detail, and how objects are laden with meaning. The things I paint are symbolic of my life, people past and living: family, loved ones, our history together, people I would like to honor. An awe of the forces of nature.
I love oil paint-- the way it smells, the way it moves, the way it captures color and light. I work on paper mounted to panel, because I like quality of the surface and the ease of moving from drawing to paintings. I love the idea of painting as the accumulation of small actions.