If You Don’t Enjoy the Creative Process, Then It’s Over

Blue Bird by Tonja Sell.
Blue Bird by Tonja Sell.

Artist of the Month: Tonja Sell

A member of Artist Daily, Tonja Sell is the kind of artist whose creativity has so many places it wants to go that nothing is off limits, especially when it comes to the materials she uses. For years, Sell has been perfecting her art and exploring many visual mediums, including fused glass, metal-glass-oil painted sculpture, felting, printmaking, photography, pottery and ceramic sculpture, watercolor, acrylic painting, mixed-media, sewing, charcoal, pastels, and oils, with a few other odds and ends thrown in.

Artist Daily: What are your first memories of making art?

Tonja Sell: I grew up in a very creative home. My father was a builder and is currently a full-time glass blower and my mother was a high school art teacher. It was evident early on that making things was very much a part of my nature. I was continually building forts and making mud sculptures. One of my earliest memories of “making art” was from the age of about four; a young friend and I painted automobiles in an apartment complex parking lot with house paint that we had found!

The Bohemian-Painted Scarf by Tonja Sell.
The Bohemian-Painted Scarf by Tonja Sell.

AD: Are you a full-time artist? If not, how have you made art a part of your life?

TS: Upon high-school graduation I received a scholarship to attend Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD).  Since I was a lousy waitress and needed to pay for art supplies, I chose to sell fused glass jewelry from a cart in downtown Milwaukee that I made with my father from old bicycle parts. That was my first “professional” art experience!

After college, I did freelance illustration, public murals, and worked on a few minor book projects. I also taught art to children and adults and continued to sell glass fusing at street fairs. I worked when I could while raising and home-schooling four children, now ages 6 to 17, and I was able to get some drawings and paintings in a few galleries.

AD: Do you prefer one medium to another?

TS: I’m in an experimental mode right now and I’m interested in so many things that it can be difficult to focus. Drawing is my first love. I love the feel of the paper, the noise the tool makes as I am working it, the motion of it. I am pretty aggressive as I work. I just love making marks!

Elah's Ballet by Tonja Sell.
Elah’s Ballet by Tonja Sell.

AD: What subject matters do you favor and why?

TS: I focus on what moves me. Usually it’s simple, beautiful things. That is the world that is mine. I don’t care if I am “discovered.” I just love the process and activity of making things. I like art that draws me into someone’s experience, a point in time, a moment that I can become a part of. I have a harder time connecting with completely abstracted images for that reason. I can appreciate them on a certain level but they lose my attention very quickly.

The human element is also important to me.  People, usually women, are a reoccurring subject. Though I am interested in nature themes and landscape I find it more difficult to interpret them in a way I am comfortable with and find they don’t hold my attention the same way the figure does.

Sell’s story resonates for me because she has been making things for as long as she can remember—just like so many of us. And she enjoys the creative process and feels it is a reward in and of itself. In AcrylicWorks 3, you’ll discover the resources and tools that allow you to feel exactly the same way. Celebrate what a gift your creativity is while enhancing your skills and painting process with AcrylicWorks 3! Enjoy!


Related Posts:


Artist Daily Blog
Courtney Jordan

About Courtney Jordan

  Courtney is the editor of Artist Daily. For her, art is one of life’s essentials and a career mainstay. She’s pursued academic studies of the Old Masters of Spain and Italy as well as museum curatorial experience, writing and reporting on arts and culture as a magazine staffer, and acquiring and editing architecture and cultural history books. She hopes to recommit herself to more studio time, too, working in mixed media.   

8 thoughts on “If You Don’t Enjoy the Creative Process, Then It’s Over

  1. Great artical, and your art is increadibly beautifull Tonja Sell.

    I actually came on here to drop the name of my favorite, under appreciated but amazing artist.
    The Name: Hendrik Vrey
    He is from a country called Namibia, in Southern Africa and he is an amazing wild life artist. His medium is Pirography (burning with soldering irons on tanned cow hide), and I strongly believe that he is the master of the medium. He has spent more than 40 years perfecting his techniques and it shows. please check out his website to better understand what I am on about – http://www.hendrikvrey.com

  2. I love the ethereal qualities to these works. I especially like the way she handled the flowers in the foreground of Elah’s Ballet.

    Note to Little Miss V: This reminds me of the Kanye West/ Taylor Swift incident. Perhaps it would have been best to start a new topic in the discussion section.

  3. Tonja Sell is true inspiration. The way the colour and simple stroke can draw one into an untold story. Tonja and her work are now on my watch list.
    I was at a stalemate with my work. So I went back to basics and started drawing with pencil, ink, coloured pencil and markers again. In no time, I was creating something every day and that inspired me to do more. So I agree. If it seems too much a effort than joy in the making, it may be time to quit or take time away from the craft. Get a different perspective. I have recently bought watercolours and oil pastels and have never worked much with either medium. So looks like an exciting winter of creativity for me.
    Thanks Artist Daily and Tonja Sell.