One of the most experimental painters of the "Cleveland School"
Paul Travis was born in Wellsville, Ohio in 1891 and grew up on the family farm. He graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1917 and went to France during World War I, teaching art to Army personnel in Le Mans. Upon returning to the United States, Travis began teaching drawing and painting at the Cleveland School of Art in 1920 and was revered as a lively, congenial and influential teacher until his retirement in 1957.
A strong friendship developed between Travis and Charles Burchfield while students at art school and continued throughout their lives based on their reverence for nature. When Travis took his sabbatical from the art school, he chose to travel Africa following the trail of Stanley from Cape Town to Cairo in 1927 and 1928. He collected artifacts, made sketches and paintings, and filmed the people and landscapes of Africa, which turned out to be an experience that affected the rest of his life.
Travis' artwork changed to a form of pure, expressive experience, without the trappings of most artistic trends. It was observed by many critics over the years that Travis was ahead of his time and followed no one. He had a spontaneity and power in his work, combined with a brilliant use of color and form combinations. Through out the last few decades of his life, Travis experimented with all kinds of abstractions, figurative and fantasy subjects. One of his favorite subjects was the Tiger, and he devoted much of a decade to exploring the expressive possibilities of the marvelous cat. "As I paint animals, I try to incorporate the characteristic lines of their movements as well as the essence of their meaning to me."
As with many of the "Cleveland School" artists, Paul Travis exhibited his work regularly at the Cleveland Museum of Art's annual May Show, winning 39 prizes from 1920 through 1958.He also exhibited throughout the country along with many of his Cleveland peers.