A Colorado Artist On His Roots and Inspiration
Topher Straus reflects on his journey that made him the artist he is today
It’s no secret that the beauty of Colorado has an effect on people. From the picturesque mountain peaks to miles of golden aspens, our state has no shortage of inspiring scenery.
Colorado artist Topher Straus shares this sentiment, crediting The Centennial State for shaping his work and who he is today. “I spent years away from Colorado pursuing other ventures, and it wasn’t until I moved back home to the Rocky Mountains that I became the artist I am today,” he says.
Straus has been creating art for more than 20 years and is featured in exhibitions around the nation.
Straus’ portfolio consists of original aluminum landscape paintings, acrylic canvas paintings, and limited edition aluminum prints.
His recent work comprises ten landscape paintings of our National Parks, entitled “The Parks.” The series is part of a solo exhibition by Straus at the American Mountaineering Museum. His work has also been exhibited in a number of galleries and museums around the country, including Katonah Museum of Art and Barrett Art Center.
We sat down with Straus to talk about his background and how his work has evolved over the years.
Bonus: Straus is offering readers of Colorado Homes and Lifestyles who mention this article a 10 percent discount on all originals and limited-edition prints.
You’re a Colorado native. Has our beautiful state inspired your work as an artist?
Working out of my home studio in Genesee—just west of Golden—gives me the privilege of being surrounded by beautiful the Rocky Mountains. I’m influenced every time I look out my window.
Growing up in Colorado, I built an appreciation for the outdoors and a strong passion for environmental preservation.
I do my best work when I’m outside—often studying the varying pallets of my surroundings. There’s an empty valley behind my house that fills with all kinds of wildlife: elk, deer, bears, foxes, and rabbits—they drive my dog mad.
How did working in Hollywood affect your trajectory as an artist?
Working in Hollywood as a film director affected my trajectory as an artist tremendously. I began my career as a child actor on KWGN’s Emmy award winning show “The Two Bits Club.” I was an on-air host, appearing in over 350 TV spots. My film experience began in high school while attending Kent Denver.
After graduation from Syracuse University’s film school, I moved to Los Angeles where I was mentored by Academy Award-winning Director, Robert Altman. He taught me how to tell a story with just one frame of a motion picture. Applying his teachings to my artwork guided me to think of each canvas as a vessel for inspiration.
What is your process?
My process consists of a mix of mediums and techniques which I’ve acquired and practiced throughout my career as an artist. I start with a photograph, which I use as inspiration for my digital paintings. Using, an advanced computer stylus, I paint every line and dot by hand. After meticulous design and perfection, the art piece is ready to be printed.
All of my works are sublimed on recycled aluminum and coated in a glossy resin. I like to work big, so my original works are 45 by 90 inches.
While I use a photograph as a reference to base the piece off of, I only depict the essential lines of the image. An extensive part of my process is searching for and discovering where those lines reside. Many artists are trying to figure out what else they should add into an art piece, but I see it as more of a process of refining and questioning the purpose of all elements of an image. Negative space shapes what we can see.
What inspires your work these days?
The connection that collectors and admirers have with my work brings me great inspiration. I’m so touched when someone shares a memory that one of my landscapes reminds them of.
Last year, at the American Mountaineering Museum, I held a solo exhibition. I watched a woman grow teary eyed while gazing at my “Maroon Bells” landscape. She eventually called me over to describe the last hike she took with her Mother before she passed away. I was moved to have a complete stranger open up to me with this beautiful story about how she was transported through my art. Art can generate such powerful feelings— it keeps me motivated.
How has the pandemic affected you and your work?
The evolution of my artistic vision and my perspective on life has quickened during these dark times. Sadly, like many others, I’ve lost some friends. It’s scary to have no knowledge of when the pandemic will end or of how it will affect our society going forward.
So, I’ve been coping in the only way I can, by creating more art than ever. While all art shows are on hold, my focus has been refining and polishing my current methods and discovering new styles.
I feel so fortunate to be selling during this time. Last week, I sold my “Grand Tetons National Park” original painting to the Cary family of Boulder. My studio manager Dylan and I delivered the large painting. It was a wonderful, atypical experience that we won’t forget.
A strong piece of art can have a great effect on a collector’s state of mind. That’s why so many interior designers are gravitating toward my work. It’s amazing how art changes moods and the entire ambience of a space.
“My work allows people to visit nature within their own homes.” — Topher Straus
Where can we find your work to purchase in Colorado?
My work can be purchased directly from me by contacting me via email: firstname.lastname@example.org. All of my artwork can be found on my website, topherstraus.com, as well as on my popular Instagram account @CreativeTopher.
I also collaborate with collectors and interior designers to create custom, commissioned artworks.
I am offering readers of Colorado Homes and Lifestyles who mention this article a 10 percent discount on all originals and limited-edition prints.
What does the future hold for you and your work?
I’m slated to be in four Denver shows later this year, however, due to the Coronavirus, the dates remain in question. These shows include: a solo exhibition at the American Mountaineering Museum in Golden called “Colorado,” in which I’ll be showing nine paintings of Colorado-themed landscapes.
There will also be a two-person show with Howard Harris—a Denver artist who also prints on metal—where we will be exhibiting new work inspired by famous artists. These new pieces are unlike anything I’ve shown before and I’m excited to debut them at Niza Knoll Gallery on Santa Fe Drive. I’m also so grateful to be one of a handful of solo artists accepted into the inaugural Denver Fine Art Fair.