Art helps artist ease anxiety

Like many artists, Tyler Willmore has grappled with the fear that a job in the creative field would not provide an adequate income for his family. Despite spending 15 years immersed in various art programs and schooling while in his youth, Willmore put his art pursuits on hold.

“I put it aside and tried to chase a degree in business at one time but it just was not working out for me,” Willmore said. “My real love is and has always been art.”

He eventually earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts with an emphasis in drawing and painting from the University of Utah in 2014. Five years ago, he moved to Mankato and has been working as a production supervisor in a local manufacturing plant.

“The more and more I work in a corporate environment, the stronger the pull to run to the arts. I think this is not new to any artist. There is a balance that we all try to find.”

At 40, Willmore will graduate in May with his Master of Arts in Studio from Minnesota State University. He credits his mother for encouraging his creative abilities.

“She is a great cartoonist, and to this day, cartoons and animation has always interested me. She was and has been my biggest supporter over the years.”

Willmore’s skills started with drawing and painting, which soon became a part of his personal identity. As he progressed, he had the opportunity to learn a variety of mediums and styles.

“I dabble in all 2D art mediums, but my focus over the last decade has really been in oil painting.”

He also describes himself as a colorist, a label given to him by a professor that he has learned to embrace.

“I have told myself for years that I am a moody tonalist, but every time I sit down to create a piece, I end up seduced by the amount of color I can create and put into my pieces. My landscapes are full of color.”

His work is largely inspired by the American West of Utah, where he grew up.

“I have had many significant experiences in nature and exploring wild places that have inspired my work,” he stated. “My pieces reflect not only the beauty and necessity of these wild spaces but help me assert control over my anxieties and work out my problems on canvas. National parks are special places for me and they are my go-to escape for vacations. I like to share those experiences I have on that day in these spaces.”

Two years of Willmore’s work was recently displayed at MSU’s Conkling Gallery in March as part of his Capstone Thesis Exhibition for his degree and as part of a graduate research grant. His show, “Novaturient,” featured 15 oil paintings and four prismacolor pieces.

“My work has evolved into being more expressive. It is less literal and more about the exploration of shape, color, and lines and how they work together to create a landscape. They explore not only the physical and visual aspects of a landscape but try to incorporate the emotional and mental state I am in,” he said.

“With years of suffering through anxiety and depersonalization symptoms, I have used art as a means of therapy to work through my anxiety and hash out my inner demons. I think the spiritual aspect of creating art has really come to the forefront in my work and it allows me the space to work out my faith.”

Willmore is available for art commissions, group exhibitions, and projects on his website,, or on Instagram at #tylerwillmore.

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