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Artist creates bold, bright paintings of Tucson's favorite cactus
Meet Your Makers

Artist creates bold, bright paintings of Tucson's favorite cactus

Neil Myers has been painting for 27 years and is self-taught

Myers has been called “the guy who paints the big saguaros.”

Thick oil paint and bright colors — that’s artist Neil Myers’ signature style.

“I paint with a brush — heavily loaded with a lot of paint — brushing on a lot of contrasting and thick colors and going back over and shaping them with palette knives,” Myers says. “It achieves this curious effect of being thick and glassy, almost.”

The paint is so thick that when you look at one of his canvases from the side, the paint is three-dimensional.

Inspired at an early age by his mom, Neil Myers has been painting for almost three decades.

“I’ve been almost labeled by other people as an expressionist,” Myers says, adding that he’s also inspired by French painter John Claude Quilici.

Myers paints mostly landscapes, with a little bit of architecture sometimes, too. And he’s been known as “the guy who paints the big saguaros.”

“Over the course of time, I’ve painted everything,” he says. “My heart’s love is always wild land.”

“In my images, that’s always where I’m happiest.”

Neil Myers' paintings are all bright and bold, created with thick oil paint.

Much of Myers’ art comes from photos he takes while hiking with his family.

“I’ll hike every place I can possibly get to and shoot photos along the way, and come back and comb them over for something that has good contrast or something that his a bit of visual drama, I guess you could say,” Myers says.

Myers said his mom was a big inspiration to him — until he discovered Vincent van Gogh.

Having majored in French and minored in English in college, Myers has been painting for 27 years and is completely self-taught in art.

“My mom could draw and paint — sort of like an amateur artist,” Myers says. “She did it for fun and I started copying her drawings. When they got good enough, she encouraged me (to paint).”

“I grew up in a very small town without an awful lot to do and drawing was my main hobby when I was little, which translated to painting,” says Myers, who moved to Tucson in 2003 when his wife found a job here.

Myers said his mom was a big inspiration to him — until he discovered Vincent van Gogh.

“That was the launch,” he says.

“Even when I was a boy, people would compliment my drawings. It was one of those — one might say a blessing — people giving me encouragement, which gave me courage.”

But Myers says his favorite compliments don’t come from artists or art critics — they come from hummingbirds who see the bright colors in his paintings, possibly confusing the art with flowers.

“I have always been grateful to the many wonderful people who felt so strongly about my work,” Myers says in his artist statement. “Yet I take the glances of those small, marvelous little winged friends to be the highest compliment of my artistic career.”

Contact reporter Gloria Knott at gknott@tucson.com or 573-4235. On Twitter: @gloriaeknott


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