An inside look at the art of T.J. Ravenwolf

In the world of Native American art, T.J. Ravenwolf is not just an artist. He’s an interpreter of spiritual visions. On Oct. 8 the Portland Art Museum hosted Natural Pigments: From Ceremonial Gathering to the Canvas, an art show devoted to Ravenwolf, his inspiration, his art and his color seeking process.

“I’m like a little kid with a crayon,” Ravenwolf said, describing his feelings about painting and creating.

Ravenwolf said he gathers his colors deep in the forest, using natural sources such as minerals and plants. He then uses a polymer base and a five-pound sledgehammer he calls The Persuader to mash and mix the ingredients into a variety of brilliant colors, which he eventually turns into works of art.

His artistic process includes an abundance of meditation and prayer, which focuses on his ancestors and the history of his Native American culture.

As a self-admitted troublemaker in the past, battling with alcoholism and his love of rock ‘n’ roll, Ravenwolf said a trip home to Alaska to help his family brought him back to his childhood roots. He reconnected with the things that really matter, such as his love and passion for nature.

This prompted Ravenwolf to get into art.

Ravenwolf said he would like to find a way to incorporate water, and the importance of taking care of such a valuable resource, into his art.

Ravenwolf plans to get more of his work into galleries, though he struggles to find galleries that fit him and his works’ path. However, he said he trusts that the spirits will help guide him, and he will eventually find the right place to showcase his work.

Ravenwolf’s art can be viewed and purchased through his Facebook page at