Award-winning painter St. George writes and illustrates her first children’s book – St George News
ST. GEORGE-Inspired by breathtaking moments throughout her life as well as the paint strokes of other artists, a St. George painter who made a name for herself in the community finished writing and painting. illustrate his own children’s book.
The first time Torie Denning remembers feeling a sense of awe and bewilderment was when she was sitting in a church classroom when she was around 5 years old. As she watched a little girl reach and braid another girl’s hair, she couldn’t take her eyes off it.
“I was amazed,” Denning said. “I was watching how she did it, the model. This is the first time I remember having this feeling of “Whoa, I have to try this, I have to do this”. And I think that’s an integral part of my personality.
Growing up, Denning said she loved art, making things with her hands and sketching pencil drawings. Around the age of 14, she stumbled into an art gallery and found herself awestruck by the paintings and the familiar feeling of wonder took over.
“When something really strikes me, I like to take it apart and wonder what speaks to me,” Denning said. “Is it the brush strokes? Is it the colors?
Her sister, an interior designer who worked on a house at the Parade of Homes for a year, showed her paintings by local artist Jeff Pierre. As she looked at the paintings, she said she was amazed and inspired by his powerful brushstrokes. His grandmother, who was also a painter, encouraged his talents and gifted him with various art supplies over the years.
“I’m just the kind of person where it’s not hard to take my breath away,” Denning said. “It’s like, ‘Oh my God, I love this.’ I’m just attracted.
She continued her love of art by taking a painting class at Utah State, which focused primarily on portraiture. When she and her husband moved to Layton, she continued her education at Brigham Young University, where she began painting landscapes. After graduating from BYU in 2012, she held her own art exhibit as a personal farewell to college, which featured about 20 of her paintings.
“I went home and just cried,” Denning said. “I cried because everyone was so kind and supportive and I sold so much work. I was just grateful because I had never sold paintings before.
Many of Denning’s paintings can be identified by their vivid colors and impressionistic styles, with a block style resulting from square brushwork.
Prior to taking time off to have a baby in February 2020, her art was featured at the Arrowhead Gallery. She has won numerous awards for her art, such as The best of 2D at St. George’s Art Festival and Best of Show in Color Explosion by the Southern Utah Art Guild. In 2021, she organized a charity art exhibition and all proceeds were donated to school meals for children, as reported by Cedar City News.
“Experimenting with my paintings, experiencing what they teach me and where I’m coming from is always more important than making a sale,” Denning said.
In 2017, Denning was commissioned to paint one of Utah Tech University’s first bison. A new concept at the time, she said she was thrilled to be a part of it and completed the front and back of the piece with latex and acrylic on fiberglass.
As for new projects, Denning said she had just finished writing and illustrating her first children’s book, “Ardis,” which premiered at the third annual Southern Art Show. of Utah from Zion’s Bank last Thursday, with his paintings and prints.
“I’ve always wanted to do some writing, or a children’s book, it always seemed like fun,” Denning said. “When I started it, I kept putting it aside because I was excited about other projects. It’s been really fun to watch this all come together.
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