Tess Erlenborn

Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting one of my favorite artists here in Nashville. It's been great watching how different artists are able to showcase their work around the city. I especially love the new murals that have been popping up lately. Tess is an amazing painter, and I first discovered her from a video I came across on Instagram. I instantly fell in love with her work. I had so much fun documenting her and getting an up-close look at her art. 

 I decided to ask her a few questions to learn more about the work she creates. Here's a look at how it turned out. :)  

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How did you start making art? Why do you make art? 

Tess: I have been painting or drawing pretty much my whole life, constantly painting on walls and curtains as a child, and have always found it therapeutic, but also it's just always been my go-to activity. I can't really think of a specific starting point, but I think high school is when I started thinking seriously about pursuing it professionally. It's always been the thing I love to do, but having teachers that really pushed me in high school and college to think about art in a more critical way was the key. I make it because it's what I love and there's no other way I want to spend my days, but on a deeper level it's a way for me to visually organize my thoughts or fears. The method of painting repeated patterns and textures and colors and combining them to create composite beings, which is what I think my paintings are, is a coping mechanism. My work is about these shared human tendencies or methods of coping with various shared inevitabilities or fears which are represented via textures and patterns I find in nature or biology books that represent different stages of life. 

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What inspires you?

Tess: My work is inspired by patterns and textures found in nature and biology book illustrations of cells, plants & fungi that are all combined to make new composite beings that represent various shared human experiences and tendencies. 

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What is your most important artist tool, and is there something you can't live without in your studio? 

Tess: Aside from the obvious- good range of brushes, paints, and some really tiny brushes, which help me work on smaller details, I think having a collection of artist biographies, art books, fairytales, and illustrated biology books for inspiration is pretty crucial for me. I listen to a lot of books on tape while I paint. Right now I am listening to Leonardo da Vinci's biography, and I just find it really really helpful and motivational. It also allows me to paint somewhat distracted, which is nice when I'm feeling stuck because it becomes a little more subconscious and I'm not as prone to overthink my work. Really not trying to sound pretentious here at all, but just think it's almost impossible for me to work and constantly create without the inspiration and motivation of artists that came before me and really understanding how they thought and why they made what they made, in addition to having physical picture books to flip through which contain those textures and natural forms that I look to recreate in my work.

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You can check out more of her work here www.tesserlenbornart.com