From her Monrovia, California art studio at the foot of the mountains, Arella Tomlinson works in oils, acrylics, collage and mediums to create sculptural paintings. Arella grew up in Sierra Madre and Pasadena, California, at the base of the San Gabriel mountains. Her second home was at the base of another range 800 miles away, the Rockies in Loveland and Boulder, Colorado. Her father, who moved to Colorado when she was young and who frequently flew her and her sister across the mountains to visit, engineered systems that refined imagery of the Earth for maps. Her mother was a sculptor and graphic designer who encouraged her daughter with art classes, unconventional art materials, and interesting discussions about dream psychology. Arella found comfort from family trials by discovering her passion and talent in art, as well as in runs looking up to the stability of the mountains, or down on them from airplanes. She earned her Bachelors of Fine Arts in Painting from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Then, realizing her passions for self-reflection and giving, Arella earned her Masters Degree in Art Therapy from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, and enjoyed working as an Art Therapist for a few years. She is currently finishing the Mastery program at Milan Art Institute, expanding her studio practice, and exhibiting in online, local, and juried shows. Encouraging others in their own creative and spiritual practices through workshops and other meetups, and giving back to the local community, are other interests of Arella’s. She lives with her husband and two young children, very close to where she grew up.
About her inspiration Arella says “I am inspired by the refreshment and comfort I find looking up at the mountains, by organic forms, textures, and movement in nature, by my faith, and my interest in the psyche. I want the figures and portraits in my work to evoke a mood of rest, of prayer/meditation/contemplation, and also of abandon.”
Solace in the Terrain is my current series of sculptural paintings that are mostly figurative, nestled among mountainous terrain on 3D topographical raised relief maps. Maps fascinate me because of their intricate details that evoke memories and invite us on a journey. In my work they function as a subtext, telling the story in a fresh way. I intend the stories that my pieces evoke to communicate peace, contemplation, or spiritual restoration that in some way relate to the land and mountains. Restoration is important to me as I had some difficult experiences in childhood and know that we all experience peaks and valleys. Rest and peace are a constant obsession, as I tend to drive myself to achieve my goals, and also because I have two young children. And home is a concept and value that my work centers on perhaps in contrast to my upbringing. In addition, to me my artworks also pose questions about the relationship between the person and the type of terrain or specific place, and the person’s sense of belonging at that place. Celebrating our diversity is also important to me when selecting subjects for my figurative work. Ultimately, I want my work to spread peace.