Timothy Giles

Suffolk, Va. native Timothy Giles sat down with us to discuss how the culmination of his tough childhood and living overseas has formed him into the artist he is today.

Give us an elevator speech about who you are.

Timothy Giles: Born and raised in Suffolk, Virginia but I’m living in Dumfries now. Spent 17 years overseas as a diplomat, facilities manager, been to over 120 countries, love black history and I am an avid artist. 

Nothing But the Blood

When did your passion for art begin?

TG: It began as a child as something for me to do. I used to dibble and dabble with the pencil and paper and once my mom saw that I was interested, she took “green stamps" to Be-Low and she bought me my first paint-by-number set.

What medium did you start out with?

TG: I started out with pencil and then a met a great friend named John Mayors. He was a genius when it came to artwork. We went to high school together and he actually turned me on to acrylics, which I absolutely hate now…they dry too fast. Then, I graduated to oils and watercolors. My favorite medium is watercolors because of the detail.

When did you know you had a God-given gift?

TG: Roy Kelly, (former classmate), and I were the top artists in our high school class at the at time. We actually participated in a statewide competition with other high schools. Believe it or not, we both made it to the final round, which is phenomenal based on where we came from. That’s when I realized I could have a voice with this thing.

The Golden One, Nelson Mandela

How could you express yourself differently through your artwork in comparison to face-to-face interaction?

TG: I’m a little bit more outspoken, a little bit more vocal, but I’m 54, I’ve had a lot of experience. When I was a young man, and having to grow up in a pretty tough area, I had to learn to fend for myself. But, I was still a little shy and probably missed out on a lot of opportunities [because of this]. However, art opened up a new avenue to have people to come talk to me because of the art and that’s how I gained confidence to express myself.

Were you different from your friends and peers as a youth?

TG: Yeah I would say that. My mother and father broke up when I was young and that forced me to become man of the house. I was catapulted to this position so I was unable to do things I wanted to do. I couldn’t play football because I had to take care of my brothers and sisters. It’s funny I used to remember William Bailey, a friend of mine, said, “I used to look at you and I knew you were gonna be something.” I knew life had to be bigger than Suffolk.

Lil' Jazzy

How has your style changed over the years?

TG: As we mature, we wonder where we can put information and our experiences…I had decided to put it on a canvas. Hopefully, some day somebody can look at one of my paintings and say, “Damn, this guy is really telling a story.” My goal in life is to leave a legacy. I think the saddest thing in life is to come to this planet and leaving this planet with nobody ever knowing you were here because you didn’t make an impact.

Do the different mediums provide different moods?

TG: I just finished a piece that’s really my expression to the “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” movement. If you look at the picture, the little boy is dealing with the same thing that I dealt with over 60 years ago. What medium did I use? Oil. Why did I use oil? Because I can texture that thing. With the details and the color, I can get you to feel what I’m trying to say. I can’t really do that with watercolors. Now when I’m doing watercolors, I could do something like B.B. King and to get you to feel his vibe, I would get down to the detail of his guitar, his look, his expression. So ultimately, the medium I use depends on what subject I’m dealing with.

Red, White, Black and Blue

Do you feel like you’ve accomplished your dreams and ambitions?

TG: My bio, if I were to die today would read: diplomat, 120 countries, artist, two great kids in college, an accomplished wife, government pension, and if you didn’t know that person you would think, “Man, how did he do all those things in that little bit of time?” Now to answer your question, as far as my art…no, I would like to open up a gallery. But at the end of the day, my art can impact the village and also gets the young boys asking questions. But I always told my sons, you have to see where you’re going way before you get there. Enjoy the journey, don’t run, walk. If you run, you'll miss something.

- Sterling Giles