Tammy Phillips grew up in northwest Montana near Glacier National Park, not far from her ancestor Charlie Russell’s cabin at Lake McDonald. Russell, a painter famed for chronicling the American West, had a profound impact on Phillips, whose watercolors are filled with the people she has encountered while traveling across Asia, Europe, and North America. Drawing from her large archive of photographs, Phillips creates global, urban scenes featuring identifiable but abstract figures drifting through city streets like shadows, shades, or blurred passersby.
Phillips approaches each piece with a story in mind, drawing a detailed scene and fleshing it out with paint, following the path of the water across the page and making small adjustments for impact. Though the figures are an important element of her work, the perspective is often removed, creating an atmosphere of languid serenity. Phillips seeks out such moments, searching for the stories overlooked in the hectic scramble of everyday life. “I no longer look at the world without seeing common things in a special way,” she says.
Tammy Phillips lives and works in Fairbanks, Alaska.