Tim Shinabarger Biography
From an early age, Tim Shinabarger developed an obsession with wildlife and "wild" places. At the age of twelve, he picked up taxidermy as a hobby, working on small animals. As he progressed to larger game, he accepted commissions, beginning a taxidermy business. He went to business school at Eastern Montana College, earning his degree in 1990. While completing his studies, he took a summer job working as a ranger and firefighter in the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness and, in 1987, he worked at the Bureau of Land Management in Custer National Forest. Witnessing masses of wildlife, Shinabarger sketched, painted and made bronze studies. He took a few art classes while attending Eastern Montana College, and furthered his art education by attending workshops presented by prominent artists and studying the works of past masters.
His extensive knowledge of animal anatomy and form allowed for an easy transition to creating original sculptures. In 1986, frostbite left him bedridden for weeks, giving Shinabarger time to experiment with taxidermy clay and model small animals. As soon as he regained his health, he cast a small model of an elk and it immediately sold. Realizing his desire to pursue art as a career, Shinabarger gave up taxidermy to sculpt and paint full-time.
Following in the footsteps of artistic pathfinders such as Carl Rungius and Belmore Brown, Shinabarger makes pilgrimages into the wilderness to gather ideas for new work. In order to convey the essence of his elusive subjects, Shinabarger finds it essential to observe them in the wild. Painting directly from experience, he says, "I paint what I live." He prefers to paint landscapes and big game; bull elk are his favorite subjects. His paintings and bronzes convey a sense of light and atmosphere. Shinabarger does not consider every detail, but rather attempts to capture the spirit of the scene in an impressionistic manner. The surfaces of his paintings and bronzes alike are tactile and spontaneous.
Shinabarger has won many awards, including the Tuffy Berg Memorial Award at the Charles M. Russell Art Auction, the Louis Bennett Prize from the National Sculpture Society, the Elliot Liskin Award from the Society of Animal Artists and the Merit Award from the Wildlife & Western Art Exhibit and Sale. Additionally, he is a member of the Society of Animal Artists.
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