Timmy Mays

Artist Bio

May is a self taught artist and crafter. Born in Los Angeles and raised in the Bay Area, she earned her ​BFA in Illustration and Animation from San Jose State University. School didn’t provide the experience and enrichment she was expecting; after graduating, she did not pursue a related career. Without a clear direction, she landed in mass manufacturing and retail. Many years later, she realized how unfulfilling a path she chose and found a renewed enthusiasm for the arts. Working in acrylic is first and foremost, though she does experiment with other mediums and ways to translate her images into wearable pieces. Her work has been featured at the de Young Museum and SFMOMA museum stores in San Francisco, under the name ​TIMMY MAYS​.

Artist Statement

I often find myself brooding over painful events of my past; the loss of a loved one, a relationship that turned sour, betrayal by someone I thought was my friend. Inevitably, I’ll ruminate over the meaning of life and death; even more so now, during these times of isolation and solitude. This pandemic has given me the opportunity to explore feelings of loneliness and sorrow, while taking a closer look at how simple things can express or suggest these emotions. Unassuming objects that we take for granted everyday, like a human hand or that bird outside your window; they’re capable of triggering a response. While I’m genuinely interested in the subjects I choose to paint, I’m more focused on how something makes me feel, not just rendering a pretty animal on a pedestal. These pieces were created during the COVID-19, shelter-in-place. Since my days in school, I’ve been working primarily in acrylic. I’ve chosen wood or masonite as a canvas for its smooth and rigid qualities. When starting a new piece, I picture the completed work in mind. I’ll sketch a very rough layout on my canvas, then begin an underpainting. I will add color as transparent layers once I’m comfortable with the black and white values I’ve detailed. It’s important to me that I represent wildlife and the human form in a realistic manner, so I rely on photographic reference whenever possible.