Tall snow laden trees, a larger than life frog, an explosion of purple lilacs, these are among the brilliant watercolor and oil paintings that surprised me as I entered the doorway of the Small Fortune Studio for my interview of Tim Fortune. Located at 76 Main Street, Saranac Lake, New York, the Small Fortune Studio is a good place to stop during Saranac Lake’s first Art Walk of the season on July 15, 2021.
Owner artist Tim Fortune is a native of Saranac Lake. His paintings of nature, however, have also been inspired by his time living in Florida, Rome and Venice. Tim’s vision and technique has allowed him to create a distinctive translucent quality found in his paintings of trees, plantlife, land and sky of the natural world. Particularly noteworthy is how natural light seems to set his paintings on fire.
A watercolor “Milkweed,” at 53″ x 87″ is an example of how Tim maintains detail in his very large paintings, filled with colors and contrasts. The most challenging portion of “Milkweeds,” was painting the milkweed filaments. After drawing their flowing movement, he lightly painted the strands of the filaments so that he could locate them. He then painted dark blue around each strand or group of strands, and then after the paint was dry, took a thin brush and used clear water to create a thin indication of each strand. He then used a paper towel to lift the blue pigment and create a light indication of the strand. Last, he took the tip of a razor blade and scratched a light strand out of the blue background.
Tim’s works have been shown at numerous galleries both nationally and internationally, including Guatemala as part of the Embassies Program of the US State Department. Several of his pieces are included in corporate collections, and have won numerous awards including the prestigious Annual Exhibition of Contemporary American Painting at the Society of the Four Arts, Palm Beach. Tim’s work is also represented in the permanent collection of the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, New York.
Painting five days a week live in his studio and visible to passersby, Tim is often interrupted by his many friends in Saranac Lake, who stop in to say hello and see his latest work. One of the most exciting aspects of his creative drive is starting a painting and not knowing where or how it will end. Tim, however, is anything but casual in his work, as his commitment to his own art education reflects. After graduating from St. Michael’s College with a B.A. in History, where he received encouragement for his artwork, he and his wife Diana moved to North Palm Beach, Florida. Tim used his talents to find art related work. He then attended and graduated with a B.F.A from the Tyler School of Arts and Architecture at Temple University. During this time, Tim was finding inspiration in such masters as Johannes Vermeer, and then during a program in Rome, where he was exposed to the field of antiquities and archaeology.
Tim returned to Florida where he worked as an arts and social studies teacher at St Juliana in West Palm, Florida. He taught young students for twelve years, seeking to make the experience for his young students a positive one. Parents and students were excited about the exhibitions and events he planned, and which drew the attention of the media including Family Circle Magazine. It might be then that Tim tapped into a talent for motivating people to consider arts as integral in their day to day lives.
Once again, Tim sought to further his art’s education, and he attained a Masters in Studio Arts from NYU New York City, painting again in Italy, this time in Venice. In 1988, he returned permanently to Saranac Lake where he helped instigate a plan to develop his home town into a vibrant arts community. Tim founded the Adirondack Artist Guild in 1997, a cooperative arts gallery that allowed artists to have a presence on Main Street, giving them more visibility and contributing to the downtown arts revitalization. Tim also founded and managed the Saranac Lake Art Walks for twenty years.
Tim recognized the role that arts play in building the brand of a community, and besides adding to the quality of life in a small town, they add to the economic base. Tim credits the ArtWorks organization and the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce in taking over the responsibilities of running the Art Walks, and securing this free family arts event well into the future. While my interview was focused on the Small Fortune Studio and his art career, Tim spoke with great pride in Saranac Lake’s arts community, and his enthusiasm and support of fellow artists has been infectious!
For more information and to see Tim’s work online, go to his website at: www.fortunestudio.com
For more information about ArtWorks and Third Thursday Art Walk, go to: https://saranaclakeartworks.org/
All photos provided by Tim Fortune