We’ve all heard the saying, “Oh, For the Love of God!” but what about “For the Love of Cows”? For Avery Tomlinson ’03, a disciplined veterinarian and artist, cows do more than just say mooo; they serve as spectacular examples of art in its purest form. Tomlinson’s keen passion for immortalizing animals on canvas resonates well in her painting, “For the Love of Cows,” which made front cover of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association. She specifically created the piece as a wedding gift for a veterinarian friend who loves cows. Tomlinson’s love for bright colors and bold imagery are reflected in her masterpiece, which she made from acrylic paint on stretched canvas, partially from a photograph, and partially from her own imagination.
A native of Atlanta, Georgia, and former Tarpon Sharks swimmer, Tomlinson majored in biology with a minor in studio art. As a young child, Tomlinson felt a strong, natural attraction toward art. She’d spend hours in her room drawing figures from her imagination then later began drawing realistic portraits during her senior year of high school, thus further pursuing her artistic talent when she matriculated to Converse, an institution that cultivated her creativity. “I had so many opportunities at Converse. I prepared for my veterinary career by majoring in biology. The small size of the classroom allowed me to really connect with the professors, notably Dr. Edna Steele and former teacher, Dean Joe Ann Lever. They both encouraged me and fully supported my dreams of going to veterinary school, even though the competition was fierce. I also enjoyed the art department and started painting more seriously in Teresa Prater’s Painting I course.”
But art wasn’t the only passion to be reckoned with. Tomlinson also loved animals. She worked in local veterinary practices throughout most of her youth. After graduating from Converse, Tomlinson worked in wildlife rehabilitation at Fellow Mortals, Inc. in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, which fueled her intense interest in wildlife and zoological medicine, especially avian medicine. She then started veterinary school at the University of Georgia, College of Veterinary Medicine, heavily involved in the canine and feline club, the wildlife treatment crew, and omega tau sigma, her professional veterinary fraternity.
During her time at the university, Tomlinson earned the Geraldine Dodge Foundation grant for Frontiers of Veterinary Medicine, which allowed her to spend six weeks in San Luis, Costa Rica collecting field research on the health of rainforest songbirds. She presented her findings at the Geraldine Dodge Foundation annual conference a year later.
Tomlinson’s ambition has earned her accolades as well. Her past artistic accomplishments include winning an annual contest held by Oxbow Pet Products for designing a poster that illustrated rabbit dental disease. She was awarded “Best Painting” at a juried art show held at Converse, and an honorable mention in photography in a contest held by a local humane society.
Tomlinson continues to care for and love animals. She currently works with exotics and wildlife at Appalachian Animal Hospital in Ellijay, Georgia, treating dogs, cats, and sometimes gorillas. No doubt these lovable creatures provide the inspiration she needs to continue drawing charcoal pet portraits for friends and anyone else who may be interested in her work. Tomlinson relies on her artistic vision and compassion to carry her through the journey she embarks upon each time her imagination comes to life, revealing the true beauty of those things that are not human. Oh, for the love of animals. Oh, for the love of art.