Questions & Artists: Timothy Horn

“Eagle Has Landed” by Tim Horn.

Readers that know my work know how much I enjoy painting automobiles. About eight years ago I entered my first competition, the Hardy show, with a watercolor of an orange 1957 Chevy that, in retrospect, looked like a cartoon. I found Tim Horn while looking on the internet for artists who painted cars. His paintings put vintage cars in wonderful locations and his technique has a feel that literally pulls the viewer into the work. His landscapes are wonderfully done and, again, have a feel that is hard to describe. Perhaps it is his colors and brushstrokes that make his work so appealing. We in this area are fortunate to be able to see this artist work again this year, as last year, in the Door County Plein Air Festival. Horn’s art can be viewed online at

Randy Rasmussen (RR): Mr. Horn, you were born and raised in the Midwest. At your high school in Yelllow Springs, Ohio did you take every art course available?

Timothy Horn (TH): It was a small town and a small school. At that time there was only one or two classes offered as I recall. Something like Art 1 and Studio Art. Whatever it was, I took it all through high school. I had the same art teacher from 7th through 12th grade. She was great, we’re still in touch, and a few years ago she bought one of my paintings.

RR: What media were you exposed to in your high school art classes and did you paint in oil at this time?

“Galaxie Far Far Away” by Tim Horn.

TH: It was a pretty minimal offering. I remember a lot of tempera paint, some watercolor, collage, silkscreen, linoleum prints, drawing, and wire sculpture. We didn’t have a wheel or a kiln so no ceramics, and no photography. When I was a senior, I remember there were a couple kids who did oil paintings, but I wasn’t one of them. Between my junior and senior years, I did a summer session at Parsons School of Design in New York City. That experience blew my doors off and is what made me determined to attend art school when the time came.

RR: How did your background in graphic design affect your current painting style?

TH: I feel like my 20-plus years of doing graphic design gave me a more advanced sense of composition when I finally did start painting. Day after day I was faced with an 8½ x 11 piece of paper, and pushed type and photos around until something worked. I also took a couple semesters of silkscreen, which I loved, and when I first started painting landscapes, I worked in large areas of flat color. I felt somehow I wasn’t supposed to be doing that. Then I discovered the work of Fairfield Porter and decided maybe it was OK.

RR: I first found your work on the internet looking for paintings of automobiles. Your ability to capture cars, specifically classic cars is amazing. Has this always been a favorite subject?

“Cutter” by Tim Horn.

TH: I remember clearly the first old car I painted. I think I had been painting for about three years and I was out with a buddy one day and came across an old Plymouth in a sun dappled residential neighborhood. It was an ugly beige-salmon color but had good chrome and the painting came out alright – good enough for me to put it in the small gallery that was showing my work. I felt that somehow I shouldn’t be painting old cars, but after it sold a couple weeks later, I decided maybe that was OK too.

RR: You started your career as a graphic artist in New York. Was the decision to move to California difficult?

TH: The hardest part of that decision was that I felt once I left New York City, I’d never be able to regain a foothold there. It’s such a tough town in many ways – unforgiving, with a very small margin of error. But I had lived there for 11 years and my desire to bust out of there and start exploring other parts of the world was greater than my desire to cling to my little scrap of Manhattan that seemed held together with found wire and tape. Years in a bad neighborhood, on rent strike in a crappy apartment with cockroaches, with friends that kept moving away, had taken their toll. It’s an amazing place and I loved it, but I was done. I bought an Alfa Romeo, put the top down, drove over the Brooklyn Bridge, and never looked back.

RR: Who did you take your first painting class from?

TH: Stanley Goldstein. I was riding my bike in West Marin, training for a cross-country ride that summer when I came across a group painting in this little town. I asked one of the painters who the instructor was, and that fall started taking his weekly outdoor class. Painting outside was a great way to start, and he was an awesome instructor. I got lucky.

“Monhegan Red” by Tim Horn.

RR: What painters/instructors have had an influence on your work?

TH: I studied with Stanley for about a year-and-a-half and that was huge for me. Then I took classes from Randy Sexton in a similar format for another year. Both of them had a big influence on my beginnings as a painter. But Joaquín Sorolla is my god.

RR: This year, as last year, you are an invited artist in the Door County Plein Air Festival. Do you have a favorite place and subject to paint in Door County?

TH: It’s great to have the opportunity to come back. Last year, since I was new to the area, I spent time just driving around trying to see what’s here. I found a farm with buildings that looked so perfect for me, I just had to knock on the door. The owners were very nice and let me paint there a couple of times. I could have easily covered all my canvases with that one farm. I like to really get into a place and try to see everything it has to offer and that place had a lot. But if you know of any old Airstreams in the area, please shoot me an email!

RR: Thank you.