Last Fall, a quiet man with a pleasant smile joined the family at SKB for the second year in a row. He had a tireless promoter at the workshop—Martha A. Thompson. You may recollect that Thompson had a big year at the 2013 SKB Workshop. Her art earned her First Place in the Other Media category and First Place in the Watercolor category this year at the Susan K. Black Foundation workshop, plus her award-winning watercolor was purchased for the Roger Petersen Collection, earning Thompson a handsomely sculpted trophy. And she frequently and freely attributed part of her success to the tutelage of Larry Wollam, the smiling man, an art teacher of more than 40 years, an air force veteran, and a fixture in the Tucson art scene.
Wollam shares his time and ideas graciously. When asked what he liked to draw and paint, he said, “Old doorknobs on barns and young kids involved in things…but birds primarily. I also do landscapes flowers and still lifes.” He came equipped to SKB with slides of his work, and he was pleased to share his pieces and talk about their strengths and weaknesses. Always growing and seeking knowledge—a sure sign of a good teacher.
The artist grew up near Yellowstone, so it’s not surprising that wildlife shaped his interests. “I’ve always been around birds,” says Wollam. “Something about the structure of the animals fascinates me. I like to learn about what they eat and where they go. Tucson has very diverse birds in that it has a lot of flyways. All of North America’s hummingbirds come through here.”
Wollam works in watercolor, pastel, pen-and-ink, and scratchboard, but his favorite medium is graphite. “I started with graphite from the time I could hold a pencil,” he says. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that graphite is a great medium for showing hide, hair, and feather. “I like the challenge of trying to match the color texture and feel that an animal or herd or fencepost and render it as I see it and present it to other people.”
As he showed his work to other people, there were smiles all around. Do you detect a theme here? “Martha went to SKB and she was so excited about it, so last year I came here,” says Wollam. “I was kind of intimidated, but now I look forward to coming every year. There’s so much energy. So many artists that I admired for years and years and years and I’ve met here, and they are just average joes.”
Wollam is registered for this year’s SKB Workshop, held, as always, in Dubois, Wyoming. For more information, go here.