Today, I’m interviewing Tina Wells in our ongoing “Women in the Trenches” series. I have known Tina for years and years and years. She was in the same graduating high school class as my older sister, and I was in the same class with Tina’s younger sister, Annette. So, really, we have all kind of grown up together.
Tina is a working artist. I say that with all the awe it deserves. I am always struck by those who have the stamina, talent, discipline, and business sense to make a living at their craft. Tina is one of these amazing women.
I asked Tina about her work, her blog, her knack for decorating and entertaining, her ideas for a budget-conscious Christmas, her personal experience with the recession, and being a creative person while mothering young children. I KNOW you will enjoy getting to know Tina and will be as inspired as I am by the way she is so beautifully doing life in the trenches.
Here’s Tina . . .
How old are you? Well, I have been 39 for a few years now :) Ok, Ok, I’m 42.
How long have you been married? We have been married for 14 years.
Kids’ names and ages? My son Kenny is 9, and my daughter Genevieve is 2 1/2
Where do you live? We live in East County San Diego, CA
What’s great about where you live? There are so many things I appreciate about where we live! The weather in San Diego is divine; I love spending time outdoors year round. We are 30 minutes from the beach and downtown, yet our home feels a little more rural, nestled in the hills. It is really nice to live 10 minutes from my parents, especially with kids.
What is your job and why were you drawn to that particular field? I am a free-lance artist, primarily a painter. I paint canvases, murals, and specialty wall finishes. Much of my work is custom, and I enjoy that collaboration with clients. Art has been part of my world since childhood. I started my first art business at 16. Experiences and education have led me down different paths artistically. During college, I started painting more seriously and fell in love with paints, color, and the whole process. Truly, I believe anyone and everyone can paint, even if it is simply an abstract play of colors.
Do you find it difficult to be a creative person while mothering young children? How do you order your life to make it all work? Well, it is certainly a balancing act! Sometimes being creative means doing something crafty; other times it’s trying a new recipe. Those are things I can do with the kids yelling and running circles around me. Serious painting projects require more mental space and focus. I have to be very intentional about it. I am a “morning person” so often getting up several hours before the kids is when I work. It’s a week by week flex, planning when there will be time, when James can watch the kids, etc.
Any advice for someone who is desires to be a full-time, working artist? There is always the route of getting a job in the art world and working your way around within it. I have always worked for myself, and word of mouth has always been my best marketing tool. If you want your own business doing art, my advice would be to start by doing your art on the side, and experimenting with your market.
How do you create when you don’t feel inspired? This kind of block is usually a reflection of the busyness and stress level in my life. The best thing I can do is to carve out some space to be alone. Visuals always help me too; looking through a favorite magazine, inspiration file, or Pinterest board can help me get into a creative place. If my “TO DO” list keeps spinning around my head, the best thing is to stop, take out a paper and pen and clear my head. I will write what I am feeling, thinking, everything I need to get done…and after a few minutes, it’s out, and I can focus on the project ahead of me.
Every corner of your house has amazingly creative personal touches. I’ve especially loved coming to your house for parties. You’re able to make things feel so pulled together and yet relaxed. As we enter the holiday season and begin to prepare for entertaining, what are some tips for throwing a memorable party that doesn’t kill us in the process?!?! Thank you for the generous compliment, Leeana. I truly love gathering people together. And who doesn’t love a great party, right? I decorate seasonally which means that things have probably changed since the last time a guest came over. This keeps it interesting. Decorate early! The Christmas season is only a few weeks, so I try to have decorations up by the first weekend in December. Don’t try to do it alone! Those days ended with the birth of my first child. Don’t hesitate to ask people to bring something. If each guest/couple contributes something to the party, it will greatly reduce your workload. A little advance planning. As you plan your menu, include items you can make a day or 2 in advance. Have a back-up plan. If your week spins out of control, go pick up some good take out and be ok with it. Having a great appetizer and drinks ready a few minutes before guests arrive will buy you some time to pull last minute details together while they are nibbling. A stressed out hostess doesn’t make for a good party, so Relax and Have Fun!
Your blog, www.winsomewren.blogspot.com is such a feast for the senses: recipes, art, creative ideas. LOVE! Tell us a little more about your blog and what you hope readers find there. I find that when creativity spills over into the everyday stuff, life’s little chores become more fun. A new recipe, a simple creative project, playing with my paints… these things make my life interesting, and I love sharing it with others. It is easy for me as a mom, to get lost in the piles of laundry, milk spills, and endless dirty dishes. But, when I am intentional about fitting creativity into the rhythm of my life, the laundry doesn’t seem so bad. I think delving into a creative project can seem overwhelming for some people, so I try to keep it simple and fun. I hope it’s contagious.
Any advice/tips for gift giving and entertaining at Christmas if we’re on a tight budget? We have a ridiculously tight budget this year! Here are a few things I will be doing: I suggested to a few girlfriends that I exchange gifts with that we make something simple for each other…
A few ideas: a jar of fresh salsa, homemade cookies, a handmade scarf, hand stamped/decorated notecards, music mix cd, a mini recipe book of top 10 favorites, small photo album or scrapbook, or the gift of time: a promise to help organize a closet, babysit, prepare a favorite meal, etc.
We are really excited to try this. Giving the gift of time/acts of service, is fantastic because it is a promised gift, to be redeemed after the holiday madness, and doesn’t add stress to the giver in an already busy season. I am also going to add handmade items to purchased gifts to bring the gift cost down. I think the key is to start early, and choose one or two projects that you can replicate for multiple people.
You’ve told me that the recession has been particularly hard on your family. How have you kept hope and faith through difficult times? It has been a truly long season of underemployment for us. Through it all, God has provided what we have needed. It is extremely difficult to walk day to day with an uncertain future. Keeping my focus on what I need to do today alone helps keep me sane. Prayer is not like a magic wand; you don’t just say “please give me $100,000” and it magically appears…but then again, you can ask God to give you peace, and in an instant it will wash over you like a cool breeze on a hot day. God always shows up in my moment of need. And of course, counting my blessings helps me keep things in perspective.
What is one thing that’s helped you stay married? Saying I am sorry, and in turn being forgiven.
What is one item or product you cannot live without and you think everyone should know about? Toms wedges (shoes)…comfortable, casual, they make me taller, AND I love that Toms gives a new pair of shoes to someone in need with every purchase!
What is your one wardrobe staple? A great pair of jeans…and I live for accessories (sorry, I couldn’t narrow it down to one)
If any of my readers wanted to purchase or commission art from you, how could they go about doing that? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or go to my ETSY store at: www.etsy.com/shop/WinsomeWren These links are also on the SHOP page of my blog: www.winsomewren.blogspot.com
Thank you, Tina!
What resonated most with you guys from Tina’s interview?