The Art of Ezra Tucker

Ezra Tucker | September 23, 2021 | Leave a Comment

My interest and fascination with the natural world and specifically wildlife have led to my career as an illustrator and fine artist.

I have given many hours throughout my life to studying film, books, and printed literature about mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, and birds that fascinate me.

I grew up in an underprivileged environment without the opportunity to world travel or access the natural world outside of my backyard. There were neighbor’s pets, an occasional visit to a zoological garden, or a trip to visit family in the farming community where my mother and father grew up.

I would spend hours observing and drawing the domestic livestock on the farm as a young child. My quest for knowledge continues to be all-consuming. As I matured, I took many opportunities with enthusiasm, observing and studying the natural world up close and in person.

"Defending the Legend". Bison & Wolves, 30"h x 40"w. Acrylic on board.

I always want to look into the eyes of my subjects to see what connects me and how to represent their likeness in my art. The way John Singer Sargent painted portraits of wealthy patrons gave elegance and dignity to his subjects. I felt that animals could be represented in a similar majestic glory. However, their personality and potential should be on accurate display in my depiction.

I am a curious student of science and history. I realized at a young age that I am a visual-spatial learner. The exotic and unusual will capture my attention and trigger my curiosity.

I have chosen to be educational as well as entertaining with my art about subjects that fascinate me. I have had art collectors and observers sharing that their awareness of wildlife has been enhanced after reviewing my artwork.

As an illustrator, I have been commissioned to create works of art depicting ideas and concepts to help others to connect or have a common experience through an image. I am using similar skills as a fine artist. It has always fascinated me that this can be magical to many. I see using visual arts as a necessary means for communication between humans. Young children and people from different cultures can learn or communicate concepts easily through art.

"Nomads of the Grasslands". Pronghorns, 40"h x 30"w. Acrylic on board.

I was born in 1955 at a time of political and social unrest and change that affected my daily existence and greatly influenced how I came to be who I am. The opportunities (or lack of them) that were boundaries imposed by laws and social norms within the United States of America influenced how my parents were able to nurture me and my siblings and help our family thrive and survive with a meager lifestyle that was very fragile.

I am very proud of the difficult decisions that my parents made to sustain our existence. Looking back, it is amazing to me now that my ambition to become an artist solidified during this time.

I am number five of six children born to parents who were working-class, loving, and attentive to their responsibility of raising a family amid the lack of opportunity in the segregated South of Memphis, Tennessee.

I attended a small private art college in Memphis where I was awarded a BFA degree in Advertising Design from the Memphis Academy of Arts. My college professor challenged me to go beyond what was being taught in the classrooms. He encouraged me by giving me a list of books to explore and learn from the Golden Age of Illustrators.

I spent many Saturdays when I was not working to earn money for paying my college tuition and fees, to go to the public library. I researched books on N.C. Wyeth, Howard Pyle, J.C. Leyendecker, Paul Bransom, and others. My professor noticed my self-motivation and realized that having access to this information would be key to my success as a professional artist. He encouraged me to have an uncommon point of view.

Having studied animals since my youth, and because of my research library, I could draw from memory most species of mammals, fish, insects, birds, or reptiles

"Out Foxed". Red Fox, 15"h x 40"w. Acrylic on board.

My illustration artwork has been prominent in the film industry, movie theater advertisements, on book covers, in national magazines and newspapers, on posters, billboards, product labels, and point-of-purchase displays.

I began my professional art career by aggressively pursuing any opportunity to create artwork of animals or imaginary creatures that resonate with me.

The challenge I had set myself was to make iconic wildlife art like that of classical wildlife artists such as Bob Khun, Carl Rungius, Edwin Landseer, Lisa Bonheur, Arthur Wardle, Wilhelm Kuhnert, and Antoine Barye which had impressed me deeply.

The European Animaliers of the 19th century had created remarkable art of animals that are still dramatic and unique depictions of animals in dynamic two- or three-dimensional masterpieces.

Like them, I wanted my depictions to pull the viewer into the artwork.

My strategy to achieve this was to use dynamic compositions, unexpected color, lighting, and scale. I imagined that doing large-scale paintings of birds and mammals would give dignity and presence to each creature I painted in this manner.

I wanted my compositions to reflect the classical style of presenting wildlife in a natural state to reveal its natural behaviors and postures. I wanted my paintings to seem alive, animated, and ready to step out of a two-dimensional world into a three-dimensional one. Always making sure to start with a solid drawing as my foundation, using my acute knowledge from the study of each creature and not from an expected or uninspired photographic point of view.

"Sushi". Great Blue Herons, 40"h x 30"w. Acrylic on board.

My challenge and focus are always to define the beauty of each animal. I aim to achieve a romantic appeal with the color and lighting of my subjects that are familiar but new to contemporary Wildlife Art.

My use of earth tones and warm light can give my subjects an old master’s appeal that brings warmth to any traditional or contemporary setting when the art is displayed.

My ambition is for my art to be distinctive and reflective of natural history museum collections. My challenge is to present the beauty and majesty of the animal world in a dynamic form. This is to influence the preservation of our planet’s varied species through the representation of their nature.

My desire is for my art to be educational, inspirational, entertaining, and evoke an emotional response from the viewer.

I began to show my fine art in 2005 in a gallery in Aspen, Colorado. Immediately I gained collectors for my style of drawing and painting of animal subjects.

Much of the gallery clientele was international and unique in their lifestyles and interests. I was fortunate to create private commissions for many of my collectors of life-size paintings of wildlife species native to the forest and valleys of the Rocky Mountain regions. These opportunities helped to fuel my ambition for creating the artwork I had longed to do since my childhood.

"Teton". Moose, 84"h x 48"w. Acrylic on canvas.

The word that has been most inspiring to me from my youth is “imagine.”

My coming of age In the early 1980s was an adventure. Discovering the Golden Age of Illustrators, which included Norman Rockwell, Howard Pyle, and N. C. Wyeth, helped me to realize what was possible for me. As I researched these artists I discovered other artists like Paul Bransom, Charles Livingston Bull, and Lynn Bogue Hunt.

Illustration was not considered a credible goal to pursue when I was at college. I did my research on what interested me. The art that captured my imagination was realism and animals. When I discovered the art of the European Animaliers, it gave me the calling for what I wanted to do with my art. I read and purchased all I could about that period and its artists. Sporting art, book illustration, animal portraiture, murals, private commissions, and public art that has its focus around animals I find fascinating. Most artists know there is no end to the quest to perfecting a style or a technique to communicate an idea or message.

After 60 years of effort, I am still committed to creating and making the visions of my imagination a reality. My journey is far from over.

Ezra Tucker has been the Featured Artist at The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition in Charleston, SC. His art is included in the permanent collections of The Booth Western Art Museum, The Briscoe Western Art Museum, The James Western & Wildlife Museum, The Rossignol Cultural Centre in Liverpool, Nova Scotia, Anheuser- Busch, Inc., and The Texas Rangers Historical Museum. Western Art & Architecture, Southwest Art, and Sporting Classics Magazine have published feature articles on the artist and his art. Ezra Tucker’s art will be the focus of a major national museum tour beginning in 2023, entitled THE ART OF EZRA TUCKER.

THE ART OF EZRA TUCKER

Traveling Museum Exhibition 

Produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C.

ITINERARY

PREMIERE

July 1 – August 31, 2023

Hiram Blauvelt Art Museum

Oradell, NJ (Metropolitan New York Area)

TOUR

September 23 – December 31, 2023

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

Chicago Academy of Science

Chicago, Illinois

January 21 – May 5, 2024

Museum of The Rockies

Montana State University

Bozeman, Montana

June 1 – August 31, 2024

The Haggin Museum

Stockton, California

September 21 – December 31, 2024

Sternberg Museum of Natural History

Fort Hays State University, Hays, Kansas

ADDITIONAL VENUES MAY BE ADDED.

For Tour Updates, Visit: ezratucker.com/content.aspx

Or Contact: David J. Wagner, Ph.D., Curator/Tour Director (414) 221-6878; davidjwagnerllc@yahoo.com; davidjwagnerllc.com

Member, American Alliance of Museums; International Council of Museums

ANIMAL GROUPS Exhibition, On Display Summer / Fall, 2021

A group of paintings of American Mountain-Plains species by Ezra Tucker is featured in the exhibition Animal Groups, produced by David J. Wagner, L.L.C. The exhibition premiered at The Hansen Museum in Kansas in the Summer of 2021 to celebrate the opening of its newly renovated building and is scheduled for display during the Fall Semester of 2021 at The Sternberg Museum of Natural History at Fort Hays State University in Kansas. The exhibit features 9 groups by 9 artists, each represented by five thematically related works to allow visitors experience the breadth and depth of each artist’s treatment and expression.

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