“Melting Snow ‘Round the Creek.” “How Beautiful the Art that Brings Good News.” This 16X20 inch creation began with a dream Mattox had while in New Zealand.“Welcome.” This 36X48 inch canvas is one of the larger paintings Mattox has done. It prominently hangs in her living room, urging anyone present to stop and reflect. She said it started as a drawing and progressed into a painting that represents, among many things, “seeing something bright; something gifted to you that you don’t reach out and take, but rather become a part of it.”“Frog Pond Coffee.” Mattox has always been a fan of frogs, and the whimsical creatures are often found in her artwork. She may be young, but Tilly Mattox has plenty of painting experience. Once she finished up working for ski school, she took to the canvas, creating a number of paintings in just a few weeks. With those complete, she’s now looking forward to teaching the craft to kids at the Discovery Academy Art Camp this summer.

Express yourself

“Silly” Tilly looks forward to teaching her craft to Big Sky kids this summer

Twenty-two-year-old Matilda “Silly” Tilly Mattox was enjoying a sunny off-season afternoon, taking advantage of the free time to catch up on one of her favorite activities: painting. She said it’s a form of expression akin to journaling for her, a pastime she also partakes in. But with art, her words take a visual form. 

     Her most recent painting was inspired by nearby spring runoff in the Mountain Village. 

     “I don’t really know what is up with this one,” Mattox said as she looked at her latest painting, a playful blend of pinks and blues and yellows called “Melting Snow ‘Round the Creek.” 

     “I was just walking out behind these houses, and there was a creek out there, and the snow made this little bridge, with little circles. So I decided to paint it,” said Mattox. “I started with blue, and decided to put more color in there, I don’t know if anyone will be able to tell what it is, but it’s way more fun this way.”

     Last year, Tilly, who works in ski school, and her fiancée, Sam Wentzel, traveled once the resort closed. But this year, with a late May wedding on the horizon and goals of living in Big Sky year-round, they stayed put. Besides catching up with painting, Tilly also has been thinking about the upcoming youth art camps she’ll be teaching at the Big Sky Discovery Academy this summer, considering exactly what she wants to teach her young students. 

     “I really want the kids to come away with a love for art,” she said. “And to feel that they are not just like everyone else—that they each have really unique creative aspects that they can dig deeper into.”

     Tilly appreciates how young people are creatively inclined naturally.

     “But I think that can be lost,” she said. “If you’re not working that muscle, asking, ‘How do I figure out the deeper parts of me?’ ‘How do I express myself as my own person?’ I want to break their patterns, if they have them already,” she said. 

     Tilly grew up in Virginia and was homeschooled, so she said she painted for fun when not studying. While her family watched movies, she’d be found in another room drawing away. Her grandmother sent her to art lessons when she was in high school, and that’s where she started painting. 

     “And it was way more fun than I thought it was,” Tilly said. “So I guess I’ve been painting ever since then.”

     Early on, Tilly created more realistic paintings, from pencil portraits to landscapes. She said it was a good foundation, but it wasn’t that much fun for her. More recently, she’s moved to colorful, whimsical paintings. 

     “For a little while, I felt like I had to prove my artistic skills. But I really like cartoons the most,” she said. “But now, just since November, I’ve started painting things for myself, because it’s just a lot more fun to do. It’s a way to express myself.”

     The upcoming youth art camps, held for students entering first through third grade and fourth through sixth grade, will be held at the Discovery Academy and Community Learning Center throughout the summer. The cost is $180 per student. To register, email nancy@bigskydiscoveryacademy.org.

     Check out more of Tilly’s art at www.artbytilly.weebly.com. 


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