by Sheila Julson
Tina Layman, painter and founder of Studio Alive Inc. vividly recalls when her art journey began: winning the Ohio Governor’s Art Exhibition, a statewide exhibit for students. Through the guidance and encouragement of her art teacher, Layman tried her hand at abstract painting—a form that she had never considered—and her abstract mixed media acrylic and oil paintings passed seven rounds of judging. This statewide exhibition constituted that one male student and one female student would be awarded one medallion each, and certificates of award would be granted for other worthy works. Layman received two medallions, five certificates and a standing ovation, and the contest’s bylaws were changed to accommodate her award-winning achievements.
Shortly after high school, Layman got married, moved to Oklahoma and raised a family. She put painting aside for a while, but she used her talents in another artistic realm—interior design. She worked for Mathis Brothers, Drexel Heritage, Pottery Barn and TransDesigns, selecting art and furnishings that gave atmosphere, color and texture to a room.
Today, Layman combines art with her entrepreneurial spirit. Since forming Studio Alive in 2005, she’s returned to painting, primarily working in acrylics, with original and commission pieces. She came up with a creative way to showcase her art while using her interior design talents by flipping homes. The first home that she staged is currently on the market, and potential buyers can see a walkabout art gallery in the garage. Upon selling the home, Layman will take her individual art pieces, but a 5-by-5-foot original painting will come with the house. “I used metallic neutral colors—black and rustic butterscotch, creams and bronze,” she says. “The painting became the color scheme for the entire house, and I decorated it using that piece of artwork.”
Layman notes that many artists are finding ways to show their art outside of galleries, thus circumventing fees charged by gallery owners. Color trends lists issued by Sherwin- Williams every year heavily influence her color choices. She also finds inspiration for color schemes by walking through fabric shops.
Layman paints “live,” in which the artist completes a visual art piece in a public performance, doing abstract pieces and prophetic art. “Prophetic art is something that is profound and has deep meaning,” she explains. When doing commission pieces, she strives to incorporate individualized aspects about the person. She has painted large canvas pieces for ministries throughout the United States.
She cites the book Rediscovering the Kingdom, by Myles Munroe, as influential in broadening her art perspective and relating to people on all levels. “To me, that’s what art does,” she says. “Art crosses over every boundary. It’s an avenue for release and exploration. It speaks, and it doesn’t have to say anything. It can speak many different things to many different people.”
Layman teaches art at Hobby Lobby, in Yukon. She leads one adult freestyle class on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., and Meet the Masters, a kids’ class held Saturdays from 1:30 to 3 p.m. The internationally known curriculum teaches art history and technique, and Layman includes a studio place setting for the kids, with their own easels and supplies. “I don’t like to see parents pay for art lessons for kids, only to have kids come home with construction paper projects that get stored under the bed. I like for them to feel like they’re producing something that they can look at for years.”
Layman firmly believes that art can transform communities and our world. Neighborhoods once riddled with graffiti and broken-down buildings metamorphose into vibrant communities through public art. She referenced the Metropolitan Area Projects Plan that revitalized Oklahoma City’s Bricktown neighborhood. “People start showing up to look at art, and they find solutions,” she observes. “Art ignites critical thinking skills and takes the brain to ethereal realms where solutions to life’s challenges are captured and thus created. Life happens, and death and deficiency are swept away.”
For more information about Tina Layman, visit StudioAliveInc.com.
Sheila Julson is a Milwaukee-based freelance writer and contributor to Natural Awakenings magazines throughout the country.