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A Dream Deferred

Master Artist Tina Garrett says she has always considered herself a romantic. She shamelessly loves beautiful songs, beautiful movies, beautiful clothing, beautiful faces. It is easy to see that beauty reflected in her paintings.

Drawn to cowboys and dancers, Tina tends to paint people “who put in the same kind of heart and soul effort into their craft as I do to mine.” Many of Tina’s paintings play with a romantic, sultry feel, but there is something else. Visually, Garrett captures external beauty, but she elevates the subjects and gives them warmth, depth and charm. These characters, like Tina, seem to have grit.

Tina’s climb to fame began in Lee’s Summit just a decade ago.

In 2011, Tina was working as a graphic designer and illustrator when her employer filed for bankruptcy. She found herself at a career crossroads. After exploring options, and with a lot of support from her husband Adam, Tina decided to reinvent herself.

“Once I settled on following my childhood dream of becoming a painter, I went after it relentlessly,” she says. 

With a portfolio of only a few wall murals, Tina knew she would have to teach herself how to do art again. She approached women who inspired her and asked if she could paint them. Her first show was called “The Women of Lee’s Summit.”  350 people showed up to support her. Though it was the first and only show Tina did in pastels, she used those portraits to apply for a scholarship at the Scottsdale Artists’ School, where she learned how to paint in oils. Tina needed a program that was flexible enough for her to master techniques while also working within the parameters of raising two elementary school aged children. She would travel to Scottsdale for weeklong intensives, soak in everything she could during those lessons, then return home and train from her notes.

Luckily, Tina was paired with teachers who branch from the trunk of Living Master Artist and author Richard Schmid. Tina says, “Richard’s philosophy on creating work was one of the reasons that I grew so quickly. He believes you don’t own what you know, and you have a responsibility to pay it forward. If you love great art, you want the next artist to know how to do things.” Tina is grateful for learning from great communicators who are also generous and kind. She continues the tradition by passing on her knowledge through mentoring, workshops, blogs and videos.

In fact, Tina finds mentoring to be her greatest accomplishment professionally. Tina says she never really wanted to be a teacher and tells the story of an early experiment with elementary school substitute teaching as a self-described disaster. However, as she traveled back and forth from Scottsdale and posted about her experiences on social media, a rural group of artists asked if she would show them what she was learning. 

“Within an hour of teaching, I was as high as a kite. I loved it immediately. It is equal to the feelings I get when I am actually painting myself,” she says.

Tina says empowering other artists is important work. “Spending time with another artist to help them meet their goals feels like exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I feel like a parent, like a guide, that sees the potential and a source of creativity that could burn brighter if it just had a little bit of reassurance and pointing in the right direction.” 

Tina continues to offer workshops in her 1920s Tudor style home in the downtown Lee’s Summit. She and Adam converted the basement to a teaching studio, and they welcome students from the world over. Appreciating all that Lee’s Summit has to offer, Tina is enthusiastic about sharing her community with her students. 

“I absolutely love where I live!” she exclaims. “We love looking at the historic homes and talking to neighbors. All of the unique shops and restaurants, the farmers market—I can’t imagine doing what I do on the teaching end without it.”

Winning numerous prizes and awards, Tina’s paintings have been shown globally. Kara Ross, Co-Chair and Chief Operating Officer of the Art Renewal Center (ARC) hails Garrett as “one of the most recognized women artists in Contemporary Western Art.” Recently, Tina has had paintings represented at Sotheby’s, which helps pave the way for other current and future representational artists to get a foothold in the famous auction house. 

Tina Garrett has advice for any new artist, regardless of their medium. A life mantra that she has passed on to her children, and directives that have been a constant guide to her journey: “Be brave. Be authentic. Be unapologetic.” 

Beautiful words from a beautiful woman.

To see more of Tina’s work, please check out her website at