More than once, when artist Tanna Scott has shown her horse and cow paintings at an art festival or show, someone begins to cry.
The first time this happened, the Kennewick Western Artist was befuddled and perplexed. But she’s gotten used to it, and nowadays, when a viewer stands in front of one of her works and weeps, she knows why.
“I paint with lots of emotion,” Scott explains. “I care about each painting.
“Usually, the painting has a story or the buyer comes to me with a story. Some stories are very emotional: the buyer associates the painting with a loved animal.”
A Horse That Was a Friend
One time, an impassioned viewer approached a horse painting and began to tear up. Scott walked over to talk to her, and together the two looked at the horse. The woman then told Scott about a most beloved horse that had just passed away. It looked exactly like Scott’s painting.
Another time, a man gravitated toward a painting of a roan horse. He told Scott that the horse in the painting was his dad’s horse.
“I replied the painting must look like his dad’s horse,” Scott says. “He said, ‘That horse IS my dad’s horse!’
“He told me that he had to purchase that painting for his dad, who was very sick with cancer. His horse stands on the top of a hill each morning and looks down on the ranch.
“By that time, we were all in tears. I was so happy he was able to take the painting home to his dad.
“That painting has a home.”
While no one wants to provoke someone to cry or be sad, Scott recognizes the power of animals in people’s lives. Raised as an only child on ranches in Texas and California, Scott bonded early to horse and cattle. As a young child, she sat on the fence and drew what she saw. Later, when her dad took her to rodeos, she fell in love with the dirt and action, the grit and courage of the rodeo world, and continued to draw and paint. Every artwork, somehow, incorporates and integrates the world of the Cowboy:
“With my oil paintings, I support the Cowboy way of life — Past, Present, and Future.”
For 25 years, Scott worked as a librarian and teacher at Eastgate Elementary in Kennewick, where she integrated art into her social studies curriculum. On the side, she taught art to students after school. Since retirement in 2017, Scott has added adult teaching to her schedule through the Kennewick Community Education program.
Scott has shown her work in various venues throughout the Pacific Northwest, including the Western Art Association show (Ellensburg, WA); the Bonanza Art Antiques and Gourmet Expo (Pendleton, OR); and the Pendleton Cattle Barons Celebration Weekend.
She is a member of Cyber Art 509, a cooperative of artists from the 509 area code who exhibit their work in businesses throughout the area.
Describing her home as her studio, Scott paints on a table in her kitchen, and fills the walls with works that are drying. Sometimes, she runs out of wall space and leans a work on a chair, but that shouldn’t stop people from visiting.
“Just move the painting out of the chair and sit down.”
Emotion Connects the Viewer with the Horse or Cattle
It’s all part of life: animals, action, relationships, memories, and like life, there are happy moments and sad moments. But what matters, Scott believes, is emotion: it is the glue that connects the viewer with the artwork.
“When a buyer identifies with a painting — when it resembles their animal or reminds them of a wonderful memory of an animal — it means so much more to them. And to me.
“I paint with feeling and want the animals to have character.”
Contact the gallery, located at 219 East Main Street, Dayton, WA, by phone at 509.382.2124 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Monday through Friday, and by appointment. Visit the Wenaha Gallery website online at www.wenaha.com.