Loren Entz, Tyler's longtime friend and mentor, joined him for the frenzied week of painting, camaraderie, and experimentation. No visitors were allowed until the unveiling at Friday's Art Walk.
Montana Gallery was a wonderful mess of clutter and color. Brushes, paint tubes, sketch books, and coffee cups littered the room. White walls, empty at the week's start, were filled as finished canvases marched across the wall.
"It enforces my belief that good art is made when you put in the time day after day, relentlessly painting," Tyler said. This relentless pace is hard to keep up when working alone.
"It's been a little while since I painted with Loren. Watching him create five paintings right in front of me reminded me how much I've learned from him. The way he approaches a painting is something I've adopted. The confidence with which he attacks a white canvas is something he's passed on to me. He's not afraid of the canvas. That confidence is something that can take artists a long time to find."
Loren was most excited to get out of his comfort zone and put his subconscious mind to work.
"It's always good to push oneself, stretch oneself, work to a time limit," he said. "I have a tendency to just become comfortable with spending as much time with a painting as I so please. I find it really helpful to sit in my chair and I'll just stare at my painting. Even if I'm talking on the phone with a friend or my family, it's beneficial because though I'm concentrating on the phone call, my subconscious mind begins working on the painting and I see things I never saw before—a bit of color there, a brush stroke there, a single line. There's something to be said about working on a painting on a subconscious level.
"But with something like this we didn't have a lot of time to sit back and evaluate our paintings. We're on an energy high, an emotional high, and my subconscious takes over and does a lot of the painting itself. With all the years of experience that I have, there's a lot of value in that."
"Plus, it's good to have someone to bounce ideas off. I think if a teacher has an open mind they can learn just as much from their students as their students learn from them."
During the mad rush to tidy up and finally make the space presentable for Art Walk, Jaxi from Ebon Coffee popped over with a plate of treats. It was hard to believe the week had come to an end and showtime was near. "I know it's freezing outside, but you guys might leave this door open for a while before people start showing up," she said.
"Why's that?" Tyler asked, ripping the paper off the front windows.
"The smell of paint in here is strong. Like, really strong."
Wrapped up in the spirit of Art Lab, he hadn't noticed. But everything looked—and smelled—like a success.