THOM 7 | Fall / Winter 2016



calloused from holding ropes and reins.

A native daughter of Tennessee, she is a

consummate horse and dog person — a naturalist

never far from her sketchpad, camera and

binoculars. Hundreds of intricate ink drawings of

riding horses and dog breeds fill her file drawers.

These drawings are the ones that first brought her

acclaim — way back, when it wasn’t clear yet that

Lyn St. Clair would, in a few decades, become one of

the quiet rising stars of contemporary wildlife art.

Before the truck reaches a distant timbered

ridgeline, she points to game trails where she’s

seen black bears and mountain lions feeding on

elk and deer carcasses, hills where she’s heard

wolves howl. Along the way, she calls my attention

to soaring golden eagles, red-tailed hawks and

harriers dive-bombing prey. I am a Montanan and

it quickly becomes clear that one of the reasons

Lyn’s work exudes such vitality is the years of direct

observation infused into her brushstrokes.

Born in 1963, to artist parents Betty and Dean St.

Clair, Lyn grew up on a farm outside of Nashville.

“I truly wanted to be an artist from the time I

could hold a crayon,” she says, standing beneath a

wonderfully contemporary horse painting completed

by her father, who was a successful commercial


“I live what I paint,” she says, noting that she doesn’t

buy photographs to use as reference or take pictures

of animals at game farms and zoos. “I want to be

authentic. I believe in painting what I know and if

I’m going to paint it, I better know it.” Her fans say

that conveying the spirit of her subjects, based upon

firsthand contact, is what gives her work integrity.

Debbie Gaskins of Thomasville owns several original

works by St. Clair. Her daughter has a grizzly bear

painting that she received as a wedding present,

hanging above her mantel. The work emerged after

Lyn staked out a venue and hunched at water level

in order to observe the Great Bear fording a river.


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