Montana native Ed Totten is a internationally known artist who lives in Ennis, Montana. His breadth of work spans many decades and different media. His many talents include oil painting, intricate wildlife wood carving, as well as relief and totem carving. He is also gaining recognition for his unique art form that combines an oil painting with an original wood carving in a single work of art.
Ed is inspired by the beauty, history and lifestyle of the Rocky Mountain West, which feed his creativity. His subject matter is diverse, ranging from sweeping land and sea scapes, to realistic marine and wildlife, to Native American portraits and scenes. He is critically acclaimed for his mastery of light and shadow to create the realism that has become his trademark.
Ed is one of the lucky few people in life who find their calling early on, as he knew even in elementary school that he wanted to be an artist. He grew up hunting and fishing in the rugged Montana backcountry, and as a child, he drew upon these memories to create his art. Today, hunting, fishing and exploring the remote wilderness of Montana are still an important part of his life that "fuels" his art.
When Ed first began his art career, he worked a variety of jobs in Hawaii and Utah, including construction and graphic arts, while perfecting his craft. He still found time to fish, and his love of the sport drove his art in that direction. In the 70's, Ed was one of very few artists producing fly fishing art, and by the mid-80's, he was critically acclaimed as a master of painting all species of fish in their natural settings. In 1983 he returned to his native Montana where he resides today.
Ed's skill was soon recognized by the National Wildlife Federation, and they commissioned him to paint two endangered fish species, the Montana Grayling and the Snake River Sockeye salmon. One of Ed's trout paintings was also selected for use as the Pennsylvania State stamp in 1991, and he was named Artist of the Year three times in the 1990's by National Trout Unlimited. He was also selected by the Bradford Exchange to be the featured artist for an eight-piece limited edition collector plate series in 1994, titled "Fresh Water Game Fish of North America." His fish paintings are widely collected by the sporting community, as well as those who have never held a fishing pole but are mesmerized by the "aliveness" of the fish in their natural setting.
Ed's abilities and body of work span much more than just marine art. His stunning, realistic land and sea scapes are inspired by the majestic scenery he encounters daily in the beautiful Madison Valley, by his excursions into Montana's rugged backcountry, and by his fond memories of time spent along the ocean beaches of Hawaii. His portfolio also includes many Native American portraits and scenes that celebrate the rich Native American heritage. His portraits stir strong emotions, as the exquisite details make his subjects come alive.
Light and shadow are critical elements in all of Ed's art work, and he believes they are the key to any successful painting. He has mastered their use to such a high degree critics have often said it is difficult to tell his paintings from real life. His mastery with brush and paint convey the very essence of what makes sky, water, land or a Native's portrait so dramatic.
Ed is also a master wood carver, and he specializes in life-like wildlife carvings, as well as relief storyboards and totem carvings. His intricate bird carvings are so realistic observers often hesitate to touch them for fear the subject will fly away. He has a special intuition that knows how best to release the animal from the wood that encases it.
Innovation also plays a key role in Ed's art, as he is constantly trying new things that interest him. One such experiment is gaining him international recognition. He has combined an oil painting with original wildlife wood carvings in a single piece of art. These much sought after pieces are now proudly displayed around the world.
Ed's stunning often quiet ocean scenes and landscapes, along with his Native American, aquatic paintings and incredible life-like bird carvings, have drawn attention from art lovers and critics around the globe.
Wildlife and the beauty of nature are dynamic forces in Ed's life that inspire his work, and he is mindful of the many threats facing our wildlife and open spaces. As such, he is very involved in the conservation movement, and has been honored many times by Trout Unlimited, Ducks Unlimited, as well as the International World Waterfowl Association. One of Ed's proudest achievements was being chosen to design the International Wild Waterfowl Association's annual award for the preservation of rare and endangered waterfowl; for this special occasion, he produced a bronze casting of a carved canvasback duck.
Ed sees his art as more than just presenting an accurate fish, bird or landscape. He views his work as a way to share with people the awe-inspiring beauty of the natural world that surrounds them, hopefully inspiring them to help protect and preserve it.