Sponsored by: Southeastern Wildlife Exposition
As a 6-year-old child, Ezra Tucker would sit for hours watching the goldfish swim in his aquarium. In fact, he’d sit for so long, his parents started to get concerned. But Tucker was captivated by the fish, imprinting their shapes and colors into his memory so he could then paint and draw them later. Visiting his uncle’s farm in Tennessee, Tucker headed to the barn where he would sit and draw the animals.
“When I look at an animal, I’ve always been fascinated by the way they move and the texture of their skin, fur and scales,” he says.
That love of animals has spanned Tucker’s 40-year career as an artist. His lifelike paintings of wildlife are in galleries and private collections around the country. And visitors to this year’s Southeastern Wildlife Exposition will see Tucker’s work everywhere. As the featured artist for the 2017 event, Tucker’s painting, “Maternal Manner,” portrays an elk cow and her calf. It is used as the official SEWE poster art as well as on brochures and in ads.
Having displayed his work only twice before at SEWE, Tucker said he was shocked to be selected as the featured artist – especially as a newcomer to the show.
“I was pleased, but very surprised,” he says. “As soon as I found out that they were serious, I started sketching and drawing artwork appropriate for the exhibition.”
He only discovered SEWE five years ago. Tucker has done several western art shows, but wildlife wasn’t the main focus of the show. SEWE, with its pure emphasis on wildlife and conservation, was “more up my alley,” he says.
Tucker was immediately impressed by the displays, venue and the people running SEWE, who are focused and knowledgeable about art and wildlife art. “The artists that have participated over 35 years are really impressive alumni,” he says.
Tucker’s bold and distinctive style of painting reflects his acute observation of his subjects and knowledge of animal anatomy. He also does a lot of large-scale paintings, often on commission for collectors who want a large piece for their spacious mountain homes.
One of his works is a 9-foot by 5-foot painting of a grizzly bear. It took about six months to complete and sits in a large home with 20-foot ceilings, log beams and wide-plank flooring. “It’s fun when I can do over-the-top, big and impressive artwork,” Tucker says.
Tucker, a native of Memphis, Tennessee, now makes his home in Monument, Colorado. His house is 8,000 feet above sea level in a pine forest. It provides him with the solitude to create and glimpses of the animals he likes to paint.
“In Memphis, there are no mountains, no wildlife. Moving west was the thing that appealed to me as a child,” he says. “You’d see ‘Wild Kingdom’ or Disney nature shows and the animals were always in the mountains or the jungles. And, I was not persuaded to move to the jungle.”
So, Tucker works out of his home studio and relies on his memory and imagination – something that served him well in his early career as a commercial artist and illustrator drawing everything from movies posters to billboards. His client list is long and people everywhere have seen his work for such major companies as Coca-Cola, Disney, Lucasfilm, Marvel Entertainment, Sony Pictures, the U.S. Postal Service, Universal Studios and Warner Brothers Studios.
"For me, it's fun. I enjoy it,” Tucker says. “I’m very fortunate to carve out a career and a lifestyle that I enjoy."