|Blue Bird by Tonja Sell.
Artist of the Month: Tonja Sell
A new member to 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.
AD: Are you a full-time artist? If not, how have you made art a part of your
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"
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
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.
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 our Artist Daily Members. And she
enjoys the creative process and feels it is a reward in and of itself. In the
25th anniversary issue of Watercolor,
you'll find artists who feel exactly the same way. Artists want to share their
process and their finished works because that is just what artists do—come
together as a community and celebrate what a gift our creativity is! Enjoy!