Wall Art Muralist Shares his Work by Painting in Homes
By Sara Falwell
Daily Herald Staff Writer
Tim Elliott’s art was already drawing a crowd when he was a kid at the New York State Fair. At age 5, Elliott started drawing in a contest at the fair and was offered a scholarship for art school on the spot. After traveling across the country for several years, the Rochester-born artist is back in Chicago doing what he loves – painting murals. “It’s been in my blood ever since I was a kid,” said Elliott, a self-described Renaissance man. “Murals really have a psychological effect on people.” Right now, Elliott is working with the Builders Design Center in Wauconda, where local developers bring clients who are buying a new home to help decorate and furnish the house.
“He really has something to offer our buyers,” said Ed Augustin, vice president of Northbrook-based Kenneth James Builders, who are now offering Elliott’s art to their clients. “If we can do it prior to people moving in, they’ve got their art and can have their first party right away,” Augustin said.
When he was in high school, Elliott won the New York State Art Teachers Scholarship, where only one student in the state is the recipient. With that, he attended Columbia College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio. Throughout his teenage years, Elliott took private art lessons in New York. Every Saturday morning he’d go to the classroom, where overhead he’d hear the symphony orchestra practicing.
“I immediately equated fine art with classical music,” he said. “Murals like this help beautify homes and make them classy.”
He’s held a variety of art-related jobs – one of the quirkiest was doing the artwork you see on pinball machines in virtually every arcade or game room across the country.
The murals he paints fall under the trompe l’oeil, a French term which means “trick of the eye.” His purpose for painting these kind of murals is to make the space appear either larger or three-dimensional.
“These really have a psychological effect on people,” said Elliott, who also works as a personal trainer and is writing his first novel.
Underwater Fish Mural“This is like in in the old days when a skilled artist would come into someone’s home and work for them.”
Before returning to Chicago, he worked at an art studio in Florida where he painted similar murals in residential homes and businesses. Doing such personalized work has its moments, Elliott said. A client in Florida was so obsessed with monkey character Curious George that she wanted Elliott to paint a dozen of the animals hanging from every which way in her master bathroom. By the time six were painted, her husband had already put an end to any more monkeys going on the wall. “In these times, people are spending more time in their homes and want to invest in it,” he said. “If I couldn’t create I would be miserable – I put a little bit of my soul into every wall.”