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Meet Terry Gardner

Today we’d like to introduce you to Terry Gardner.

Terry, before we jump into specific questions about your art, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Balancing fine art and the need for money begins early, as early as college, when you contemplate how you are going to make a living. I graduated from Maryville College in St. Louis with a degree in communications, yet I had loads of credit hours in the fine arts. My degree choice was the first step of indecision in my journey to pursue art. I ventured into marketing and advertising as so many artists do since it is often the closest career path to the arts. I would work in advertising for the next 25 years, relentlessly painting as much as I could during my non-advertising hours.

My fascination with the American West began when I was young, watching western TV and film. I moved to Colorado in my early thirties for an advertising job, but more importantly, to be in a region I dreamed of living for years. While working in advertising I would spend my evenings attending the Art Students League of Denver. Relationships with teachers Mark Daily and Quang Ho would forever impact my path as an artist. It was the teachings of Mark and Quang that would help elevate my work to a level where I could rightfully ask for money.

During this time I began showing at the Coors National Western Art Exhibit, a prestigious show held annually in Denver. I was selected as the featured artist in 2019 and this January will mark my 17th consecutive year participating in the event. The relationship with the National Western Stock Show introduced me to ranchers, conservationists, and many people of varied industries with similar passions — the American West.

My subject matter opened up to the world of ranching and the people working the land. The ways of the west have evolved over the last 100 years but our fascination remains true. I left advertising years ago. Selling soap and toilet paper had run it’s course and painting was in my soul, always has been. However, that doesn’t exclude the occasional part-time gig to help with financial matters. The question I wrestled with in college is a challenge that persists to this day — how to pay the bills and feed the family. I feel fortunate to show work in multiple galleries and even more fortunate when my paintings speak to a collector. I am also happy to have a supporting spouse. Most artists need or have an instrumental partner.

Has it been a smooth road?
The path of any artist is never smooth. Trying to do great work is tiring and never-ending. An art consultant once told me the ones that succeed are the ones that hit a wall and keep hitting it until they get over. I often struggle with my own work because I continue to try new things but the results can be disappointing, yet when you do cross the threshold, developing work that is new and exciting, there is nothing more thrilling. This past year has been a time of continued experimentation and I am young with determination to bring into existence work that has never been done before.

We’d love to hear more about your art.
I am a painter. I love paint, the mixing, pushing, applying, scraping, spreading, dripping. In a digital world paint is the opposite. It’s raw, sometimes crude, has wonderful textures, unlimited colors, and has the power to move people. I paint the American West, and I try to invite contemplation with every execution. From the ranches of the high plains to the evergreens along rocky peaks, the west is changing and rapidly. Every moment is fleeting and my intentions are to depict the subjects through a veil of mystery, inviting viewers to ponder questions surrounding our choices. Often described as a tonalist, employing muted colors and atmospheric qualities, my work is designed to have an ethereal, calming nature. This is the path I feel separates my work from others, and while this is the road I travel the journey is far from over.

Staying true to your pursuit in the arts is noble. As your craft evolves, hopefully getting better, you are the creator and juror of your own work. Indecision is often the enemy of the arts since we are guilty of wondering what others might think. “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” These words by Ralph Waldo Emerson are the true measure of success, and especially for an artist. Be open to experimenting knowing failures are part of the pursuit, but demonstrate courage, not doing so will haunt you.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
The Denver area is thriving and depending on who you ask depends on whether this is good or bad. For artists, the challenges begin with cost of living and workspace options. Costs have increased and this can make it difficult in a world built on regular paychecks. Studio spaces for artists are drying up faster than summer watering holes. Artists must be innovative in how they get work in front of people, beyond jpegs. Denver is a vibrant community that is open to new things, especially art, food and culture. Keeping costs down are important for artists. Sometimes this means moving to a location that costs less. For those making decisions that impact the future of the region, let’s remind them of the economic contributions of the arts. Corporations often benefit from significantly reduced taxes because of their contributions to the community. Artists contribute as well, perhaps they are deserving of similar tax benefits.


  • Prices for my paintings range from $3,000 to $10,000. Drawings are often priced under $1,000.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Dennis Lane, photographer
(black and white head shot)

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