The lofty, industrial City Art gallery showroom was abuzz with patrons one recent Thursday night for a very special art show opening. Many stared in awe at the highly-textured, mood-carving, luminescent paintings with price tags in the thousands and some excitedly selected pieces to purchase — that night, one went to a collector in England and another to Germany. The artist, Tim Floyd, was all smiles knowing that the emotions conveyed in his works were influential enough for his fans to shell out upwards of 2k.
Tim’s road to local artist stardom was paved unevenly at times, but as a faith-guided man with a positive attitude and strong spirit, he saw roadblocks as green lights to live fully. What many would consider the ultimate tragedy — the death of a child — allowed Tim to unearth talent that would inspire those around him.
Growing up on a farm near Myrtle Beach, Tim wasn’t exposed to art until he saw the work of his uncle, a political cartoonist in West Virginia. “It was fascinating, and he encouraged me a lot,” Tim says. His talent first become evident in the first grade when his teacher took notice to his above average drawings, and that’s when art became the greatest passion in his life (aside from God and being an outstanding husband and father).
At the University of South Carolina, Tim continued to explore his artistic talents but chose to major in advertising design “out of panic.” This led to a fruitful graphic design career — he’s worked for USC, Blue Cross Blue Shield and currently serves as the graphic design and brand manager for Palmetto Health. Tim says when he began working full time, he was so concentrated on his designs that he “practically stopped painting.”
In 1999, Tim and his wife Carol’s lives were turned upside down when their 12-year-old son perished in an automobile accident. “That event, along with turning 40, caused me to start painting again,” Tim says. He poured his pain and sadness into his paintings, finding that art can convey emotion better than any other communication method can. “It was therapy,” he says. “I found that paintings are a language without words. There is an undertone of feelings that paintings give you that can’t be put into words.”
Soon after taking up his favorite activity again, Tim organized an “art weekend” with his family, including two of his artistic nephews. City Art co-owner Wendy Wells provided Tim with a space to paint inside her gallery, and after catching a glimpse of his work, she asked him to do a show. He’s been exhibiting at City Art for about five years now and is the gallery’s top-selling artist.
Tim paints what he calls “fictional, abstract landscapes,” many of which are flooding with color and light, feature interwoven tree branches or roots and are touched with a small paint brush bearing red paint in a single spot (“to add mystery”). Paint is not the only medium Tim relies on when creating his masterpieces — he often begins a new work by brewing a pot of espresso and swirling it onto the canvas as a base. It’s the first of many layers of medium, but this caffeine-fueled first step is still visible in his finished products.
The inspirations and thoughts behind his landscapes vary — “Lowcountry Morning” is the result of a week-long visit to Mepkin Abbey in Summerton and displays a row of oak trees in a haunting, almost dismal setting. “Exposed” reveals the twists and turns of roots underground, which Tim implied represent one’s past. But not all his paintings are landscapes — one giant, square-shaped canvas has been turned into a jagged checkerboard; the lines and colors resemble a map or circuit board (the title: “Google This”). Another, “Grace Like Rain,” shows a brown, circular object created with a palate knife; it looks like a bird’s nest or a crown made of thorns and Tim says it represents unity.
Tim says he wants his work to remain exclusive to City Art in the Columbia area, but would love to be picked up by galleries in bigger markets, such as Atlanta, Charlotte or New York City. Otherwise, he hopes his art will continue to have an emotional impact on people who visit City Art, as it did for one woman who felt compelled to write to Tim.
“I got an e-mail from a woman who saw a painting of mine at City Art and said at that moment, she knew what she wanted to do as far as her relationship,” he says. “It brought tears to my eyes.”
Tim’s exceptional talent has been well-proven, not just by the high price tags on his paintings, but by the effect his paintings have on people. He says his works are a result not only of refined technique and practice, but of the experiences he’s had in his life.
“When someone asks me how long it took me to do a painting, I say, ‘48 years,’ because it’s a culmination of a life of experiences, and I never could have done these in college,” he says. “I’ve experienced death, life, love, hope and fulfillment, and that has made me a better artist.”