COVER STORY: Giving Back Through Art

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TYLER S. ARNOLD LOOKS FORWARD TO RETURNING TO HIS HOMETOWN AS THIS YEAR’S PARTY WITH PICASSOS SIGNATURE ARTIST 

by AMBER SMITH ZALISKI  |  photo by MOLLY MINTER

 
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Raw talent, a drive to succeed, and a strong support system have led Tyler S. Arnold into a career that he never even considered a possibility. As a self-taught artist, specializing in oil, acrylic, and mixed-media paintings, Tyler spends his days honing his craft and steadily growing his business. As the signature artist for Texarkana’s 19th annual Party with Picassos fundraiser, Tyler is excited to use his time and talent to give back to his hometown. 

Growing up, Tyler always enjoyed playing with paints, but playing was always the extent of it. “I can remember asking for finger paints pretty much every birthday, Christmas, or any other holiday when I was a kid, but the thought of working as an artist never even crossed my mind,” he said. “I always imagined I would follow in my dad’s footsteps and become a lawyer and move back to Texarkana.” 

 

NEW THIS YEAR!

TYLER’S SIGNATURE PAINTING FOR PARTY WITH PICASSOS WILL BE ON DISPLAY IN THE REGIONAL ARTS CENTER, AND SEALED BIDS WILL BE ACCEPTED THROUGH MARCH 20. CALL 903-278-3383 FOR MORE INFO. 

 

Tyler realized pretty quickly, however, that law school wasn’t the right path for him. “My brain just didn’t work that way,” he laughed. In 2009, Tyler graduated from the University
of Arkansas with an Advertising and Public Relations degree, but not a clear-cut path of how he wanted to use it. After some time working in Texarkana, Northwest Arkansas called Tyler back. “I worked at Gator Golf, a miniature golf course, the whole time I was in school. When the owners, Jimmy Lester and his wife, Rocky, asked me to come back and run the business, I couldn’t pass up the chance to move back to Fayetteville.” 

  ^ This 32x54 mixed-media painting of Ray Charles is one of Tyler’s favorite creations. 

^ This 32x54 mixed-media painting of Ray Charles is one of Tyler’s favorite creations. 

That move would prove to be a good one. “I used to study and do homework when we were slow at work, but since I graduated, I started using that time to paint,” Tyler said. “Jimmy and Rocky have always been some of my biggest supporters, and they taught me so much about running a small business and being personable and passionate about it.” A graduate of Arkansas High School as well as the U of A, Tyler is truly a Razorback at heart and had plenty of inspiration from which to draw. “I painted lots of Razorback art, custom names, player portraits, things like that, and some friends of mine would display them in the bank where they worked. I started selling one every once in a while, I think for like $35, and eventually started doing more and more.”

  ^ Tyler painted this pet portrait of “Dusty” for national country music deejay, Bobby Bones.    

^ Tyler painted this pet portrait of “Dusty” for national country music deejay, Bobby Bones.

 

Tyler has always been undeniably talented, but it would take much more to turn his hobby into a viable career. Eventually, Tyler was introduced to Scott McGowan, owner of a custom framing and art shop in Fayetteville. “Scott had actually seen some of my artwork, but since I always signed my pieces with my initials, he didn’t know how to find me,” Tyler said. “He has been a huge support, and really convinced me that I could do something with this. He introduced me to other artists in Northwest Arkansas, taught me about making prints and reproductions, and really how to create a business that could support my art.”

For the past seven years, Tyler has worked exclusively as an artist. “I think my dad was a little surprised when I didn’t need to ask him for money anymore,” he laughed, “but I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by friends and family and clients that have supported me and my work over the years.” Aside from a couple art classes in high school and some YouTube videos of various techniques, Tyler is completely self-taught. “It’s kind of a grab bag of different techniques I’ve collected. I’ve considered going back to school for formal training, but I’ve found the most important work is in developing my own style.”

Tyler’s style, whether it is a big abstract painting, a detailed oil portrait, or a bright, mixed- media piece, is bold and eye-catching. His work immediately grabs your attention and demands your interest. “I always try and capture the movement in a piece,” he said. “I like to do big pieces that are bright, loose, but with enough detail to keep it fun.” Reminiscent of one of his favorite artists, Voka, who coined the term “spontaneous realism,” Tyler enjoys working on large, colorful portraits of famous faces, with anyone from Abraham Lincoln to Jimi Hendrix gracing his canvases. “Probably my favorite piece that I’ve ever done is the Ray Charles. That one I still own, and when I take it out, it always has the highest price tag.”

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As his business has grown and his workload has increased, Tyler has learned to juggle the ups and downs of being a self-employed artist. “Some months may be slow, and some months I may have as many as 10 different bosses that I want to make happy,” he said. “Even though free time has diminished over the years, I still love the freedom and the creativity that I’m allowed in this career.” Based in Little Rock, where he lives with his wife, Abigail, Tyler reserves enough free time for river trips, bowling, and as many Arkansas Razorback events as possible. “It’s easy to get caught up and work all the time, so I try to keep set hours and maintain balance. Even though the work is very unstructured, I try to stay as structured in it as possible.”

This year’s Party with Picassos event is set for March 24 at the Texarkana Convention Center. This will be Tyler’s fifth year to participate in the fundraiser, which supports arts education through the Texarkana Regional Arts and Humanities Council. As this year’s featured signature artist, a new Tyler S. Arnold painting will be auctioned off, signed prints will be available for purchase, and he is working closely with local celebrity Jake Potter on an additional auction piece. “I’m grateful to have a chance to give back through my art,” Tyler said. “You always hear the saying, ‘When you’re doing what you love you never have to work a day in your life,’ but I don’t think that’s true. Being able to do what I love – I think it pushes me to work even harder.”

To connect with Tyler and see more of his work, visit his website at: www.tylersarnold.com

 
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