Artist Tyler Voorhees


Listen to the Big Blend Radio conversation with artist Tyler Voorhees, who talks about his art and art career, and his passion for travel, national parks and history.

Born on the flatlands of eastern South Dakota in 1984, Tyler Voorhees was blessed with a childhood full of tree forts and fishing poles. He attended Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD and acquired his BFA in 2006. After working multiple jobs and saving every penny, he chased his future wife across the pond to Germany and lived there for almost two years giving bike tours, teaching English and taking in the rich history of Europe. While there he also worked on honing in on his current collaging technique and developed the elongated whimsical style you see in his art.

After returning to the States in 2010, he focused on his passion for teaching and earned his stripes leading 2nd graders on nature walks and explorations in art. Never putting the paintbrush down, in 2015, he and his wife Ashley decided to quit the rat race and take their son Ivan on the road, committing to his art full-time. For the first nine months, they lived the nomadic lifestyle and traveled over 17,000 miles, keeping only a mailbox in Boulder as their permanent residence. Fort Collins, Colorado is now home, but they continue to explore the country with their most recent addition, Orin, gathering inspiration from the open road and sharing his work with art enthusiasts from all over.



“Tall Tales tell the stories of my life thus far: the experiences, dreams, fears, and aspirations that I’ve collected in my 33-years of adventure.  The lanky-limbed characters spin a collective yarn, uniting the viewer and artist in an unfolding tale of an artist’s life.


The series puts an introspective and contemporary twist on western art.  I create fictional characters and root them in the nonfiction narrative of my life, bridging the divide between reality and my imagination.  The mixed media paintings feature four characters that represent different aspects of my identity:

  • Slim Pickens – rugged and kind, this slender cowboy meanders the vast expanses of the West, searching for spiritual truth, helping those in need, and fighting for what is good and right in this world.  Slim is cool, calm, and collected, especially when his six-shooter is un-holstered.  He made his debut over ten years ago as a last-minute solution to a self-portrait assignment that I was struggling with.  Since that fateful day when I decided to just “paint a tall cowboy”, Slim has come to represent who I aspire to be: brave, compassionate, tough, spiritual, and a stalwart of righteousness.
  • Bluebeard – this wild hillbilly gets his name from the title of my favorite Kurt Vonnegut novel (read it!) and he is as zany and unpredictable as his beard is blue.  Curiosity and wanderlust course through his veins and he is always seeking out the road less traveled with his shotgun in hand.  Bluebeard embodies my creative spirit, which seems to float above all the nonsense, never allowing itself to get tethered to any one idea or place.
  • Jack Knife – dark, brooding, and mischievous, Jack is a prowler armed with a razor-sharp knife and a sly grin.  Jack lost vision in his left eye from a childhood accident and he’s had a chip on his shoulder ever since.  Fear dictates Jack’s moves, which typically serve only himself.  Jack represents the parts of me that I don’t wish to encourage, but are there nonetheless.
  • The Lady – a siren with a heart of gold, The Lady is more than just a muse; she’s the boss.  Her strength is quiet and her power is in her faith.  She doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone and her ego doesn’t guide her decisions.  The Lady knows what’s important and will stand up for what is right every time.  She represents all that I’ve learned from the amazing women in my life, most notably my wife and two mothers.


With this latest series, I’ve taken my artistic toolbox and dumped all of the contents onto the floor of my studio, picking up whichever color, medium, or technique fit the story I was trying to tell.  There are my familiar acrylics and collaged paper, but I also use oils, watercolors, graphite, soluble copper and India ink.  I continue to use drips and splatters, but I’ve also been experimenting with charring the wood panels with a torch, a process that is a lot of fun and makes for a striking effect.  In the end, the works in Tall Tales are vibrant, refreshingly expressive, and more true to the process than I’ve ever been in my art.


Tall Tales is both a contemporary spin on western imagery and a glimpse into the fiber of my being.  These energetic mixed media paintings are full of life and sure to inspire conversations about the tales that they tell, both tall and true.”



National Parks Arts Foundation International Food Wine & Travel Writers Association

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