Tilly Woodward


Tilly Woodward

“The farm I grew up on has been in our family since 1849. My early relationship with the world was largely solitary and largely visual. I spent a lot of time looking at the things around me– soil, sky, animals and plants in all stages of life and decay. These things were as important to me as the people I knew, who were limited to my family and the people who helped us farm until I went to school at age six.

I don’t live on the farm anymore. I have a nice lot in town with a beautiful but illegal chicken coup, a selection of trees and bushes that I love and flowers I try not to kill. My days are busier than when I was a child, but I still spend as much time as I can just looking closely at things. There is so much that is uncertain in the world– I find it a comfort to take time to see one thing clearly, or a part of one thing clearly, each day.

The things I paint are symbolic of my life, and laden with meaning. They represent people past and living: family, loved ones, our history together, people I would like to honor. An awe of the forces of nature, the beauty of small things, the pleasure of a metaphoric pairing.

I love oil paint– the way it smells, the way it moves, the way it captures color and light. I love the idea of painting as the accumulation of small actions”.

– Tilly Woodward, 2020

Tilly Woodward holds a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute and an MFA from the University of Kansas. Her artwork has been exhibited in more than 194 museums and galleries nationally and can be found in museum, corporate and private collections in Israel, Ghana, Uganda, India, and throughout the United States. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards including two Fellowships for Drawing from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has initiated many arts outreach projects designed to help communities address social issues, foster creativity, build compassion, and engage with joy. She is well known for her highly realistic, meticulously detailed oil paintings of small things.

Tilly Woodward is Curator of Academic and Community Outreach at Grinnell College Museum of Art, Iowa, and has been leading innovative programming and building relationships with campus and community partners since 2007.