Creating Art in Real Time
APOLLO BEACH: I happened to come across Tiffany Wood, Artist and Founder of TW Originals, quite by accident. I was browsing Facebook one day and up popped a message, “Tiffany Wood is live.”
I had no idea what this meant, but I was curious so I clicked the button. It was my first introduction to the new ‘Facebook Live’ feature and the first time I saw Tiffany and her art. Well, her art in progress.
Facebook Live is a feature that allows anyone to ‘go live’ on Facebook, like a news crew would air live from the scene of a story. In Tiffany’s case, she sets up her phone in her studio (we’ll get to that later), pushes the ‘Go Live’ button on Facebook, and lets people watch her paint.
What was so amazing about finding Tiffany in this Facebook Live event was it gave me, and many others who were watching the same live session, the chance to see her create a piece of art, in real time. It’s rare you get to peek behind the curtain, but Tiffany uses Facebook Live so people can see her art come to life.
Needless to say, I was curious to learn more about Tiffany so I called her up and asked for an interview. As it turns out, Tiffany’s a pretty fascinating character. She’s an incredible self-taught artist (selling professionally for only a short time) as well as a busy mom, with a 3 and 5 year old, and a wife.
Tiffany grew up working in her family’s bakery in New York. She’s a 5th generation baker. “I’d probably still be in the family business had I not gotten married,” Tiffany says.
Tiffany never studied art or painting, a fact that makes her a bit shy talking about her art. “My mom had a friend who was an artist. I remember visiting her and seeing her art and thinking it was ‘super cool’ so I started asking for paint for Christmas.”
Here’s how Tiffany describes her early foray into painting as a young girl: “I had an 8-track tape player. It was really cool and had these huge speakers. I only had one tape, Camelot, so I used to paint in my bedroom and listen to Camelot over and over. I know every word.”
After marrying and moving to Washington D.C. Tiffany did not have much time for painting. She kept it up as a hobby, but had a job creating store displays at Hecht’s, a department store, and then moved into selling cosmetics, where she did very well, eventually moving to Niemen-Marcus.
From Garage Sale to Professional
Interestingly re-locating to Apollo Beach in 2013 was the catalyst for bringing painting back into Tiffany’s life and for taking her art to a professional level.
Soon after moving to Apollo Beach Tiffany participated in a community garage sale. She included a lot of her old paintings in the sale to ‘tidy up her garage’.
“A cute little girl asked me about a painting of a fish I had. She loved it so I gave it to her. Later her mother asked me if I had more art. She wanted to see it and then asked me if I would paint something for her. I had no idea what or how to charge for a commissioned piece. I didn’t even have paint or canvases,” Tiffany says. “I never even talked price with her until I delivered her piece.”
Apparently the woman who bought Tiffany’s first commissioned piece was happy with it and posted about it in a local neighborhood Facebook group. Next thing she knew, Tiffany was getting orders for commissioned pieces.
Today, Tiffany is at least 18 weeks out on commissioned pieces. She works with acrylics. She’s studied the business and learned how to appropriately charge for her paintings and has learned the right questions to ask of customers who are commissioning pieces.
Tiffany’s also expanded her repertoire. She does abstracts, animals, mixed-medium pieces and she works in different sizes from small-scale paintings to massive canvases that have to be special ordered and delivered by freight truck.
“Most of my customers today are collectors,” Tiffany says.”My average customer has three of my pieces.”
Industrious and Inventive
With two children, a husband who works from home and two German Shepherds Tiffany’s house did not have extra space for an art studio so Tiffany improvised. Tiffany’s art ‘studio’ is in her kitchen.
She’s carved out a stack of drawers in one corner for her paints and supplies and uses the open-concept floor plan to house her massive easel. “Before getting this easel I used to prop my larger canvases up on the kitchen counter, between two windows,” Tiffany explains.
While some would consider it a not-so-ideal location for a studio, it works for Tiffany and her family. In fact, when she’s painting on Facebook Live part of the fun is watching her interact with her family while she’s working. You might see a dog wander through or the kids come ask their mom for something. It’s real. It’s interesting. “I get the most hits on Facebook Live when my kids are here,” she says.
Tiffany’s gotten creative with her painting, too. “My heart is in abstracts, and I think that is why they sell the best, but I also like trying new things,” Tiffany says. “I do a lot with gold and silver leaf and I’ve recently begun using resin. I pour a liquid resin over a painting and use a blow torch to remove any bubbles. The end result is an entirely weather-proof piece of art.”
(Below – one of her abstracts in its new home)
She’ll experiment, too. One example is an Octopus piece hanging in her front room. “I wanted to try to make his tentacles more dimensional so I tried Spackle. I was mortified when I woke up the next day because it was all dried and cracked, but when I looked at it closely it was awesome. The cracks made the whole piece.”
(Below is the octopus with experimental Spackle texture).
Passionate about Art
Just talking with Tiffany about art and you can hear her excitement. In our conversation she mentioned that she did not study art and never really had one artist that inspired her, but I think this is what makes her art that much more incredible. She’s self taught and, while she had a bit of inspiration from her mom’s friend and an 8-track tape player, Tiffany’s self-inspired. That’s called passion in my book.
(Below: Jelly Fish, Abstract in progress, Sea Turtle in Its New Home, Tiffany at work)