Is a tremendous talent in contemporary figurative painting.His works exist between a realistic drawn representation of the female figure and an abstract use of impasto and color. He has been exploring the possibilities of oil paint and pastel for over 30 years, with particular attention paid to how color layers interact with eachother; specifically how thin overglazes of a strong color, for example phthalo blue or rose red, can change the character of the paint or pastel underneath them in unexpected ways, producing many new colors while neutralizing others into grays. He has chosen the female form as the subject of his paintings for its beauty,sensuality and historical precedent. He uses the fluidity of oil to express the sensuality of nude skin. Many of his works derive inspiration from the frequent opera and ballet performances he attends, such as Madame Butterfly and The Nutcracker ballet. However, he does not intend to illustrate a story explicitly but instead to suggest a more vague emotional narrative.
From 1977-1979 Mr. Tuffnell attended the University of California, Santa Barbara and studied with noted teacher Gary Brown; when there he traveled to Europe, where he was inspired to a life as an artist.
He attended the prestigious School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, graduating with honors. At the School he won the Liquitex Fine Arts Materials Award in 1987, Returning to his birthplace, Santa Barbara, he took first prize at the Best of the Best of Santa Barbara County show in 1991.
D. J. Palladino, writing in the Santa Barbara Independent about his show “ Temporal Skies” at the Delphine Gallery, said, “ In Santa Barbara galleries, landscape painting has long been dominated by images that lead to ideas...with Malcolm Tuffnell’s work, I get the feeling that his ideas led him to the forms.”
Mr. Tuffnell has shown in many galleries, including Gallery 333, Falmouth, Massachusetts; Orlando Gallery, Los Angeles; Tah Gallery, Pasadena; Spectrum Gallery, Sacramento; Goldfield Galleries, Los Angeles; Galerie at Newport Beach; Art Brut, Los Alamos, and the Delphine Gallery, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, which represented him from 1998-2007. Recently he had a successful show of figures and landscapes at the University Club, a private members club in Santa Barbara, September 12, 2006-January 12, 2007. He also had a successful exhibit at Fresco Restaurant last year, January 31-May 7, 2006. He recently joined the San Luis Obispo Art Center and exhibited a large mirror nude " Modesty/Reflection" featuring a new model, Keara, which was quite well received. He regularly exhibits at Gallery 113 of the SB Art Association(SBAA)and at the Hutton Foundation, a nonprofit in Santa Barbara. He has been treasurer of the SBAA since fall 2005.