Matt Atkinson is a Colorado-based painter whose traditional realist paintings portray the American west from days gone by to present, and in particular the stories of men and women who preserve its heritage. From old-timer saddle makers to master violin carvers to Indian elders and warriors (both living and historical), his work honors the preservation of culture, which is why he combines traditional paints with earth pigments made by hand, using natural non‐toxic colors collected from minerals and soils. These are the same pigments that ancient artists once used to paint cave walls, and to make Native American face paint. Each painting literally has nature within it, and is my response to something beautiful in the world.
“I use art to express respectful, reverent, and positive relationships between humankind and the natural, wild world.”
Matt holds a degree in Studio Art from the University of Tennessee and has exhibited in numerous juried shows where he has earned honors including purchase and gold medal awards.
In every painting, Matt use brushes and paints that he inherited from his grandmother, a wise and compassionate elder. The brushes in the vase beside her easel still had paint on them, waiting for her to return to them, when she passed. Using them on every canvas connects his art with that heritage. Every drawing is created from blank page to completed image using graphite and charcoal, with no computer aid, transfer paper, tracing, or overlay on prints.
Also achieving acclaim in the behavioral sciences, Matt has written award-winning books about the effects and treatments of trauma. He earned a second Bachelor's degree and a Master's, and has worked as a volunteer chaplain for Native American prison inmates, community health program director, and counselor before resuming art as his full-time vocation.
Matt has worked closely with many Indian tribes as a program director and consultant. For years, he directed the Cultural Recovery/Youth program for a Native American community, forming relationships with traditional leaders and elders. Tribes across the United States have hosted Atkinson as trainer for cultural and anti-violence programs. He has also taught college courses for several years, and is regularly requested as a guest lecturer and conference presenter.