Date: July 18, 2018 | Story: Tiffany Adams | Photography: Beth Hall |
Meet Tram Colwin: An early interest in art and a love of nature continue to inspire this Fayetteville artist to create colorful botanicals and portraits
Q. We are seeing your botanical watercolors pop up everywhere. Have you always had a passion for art and flowers?
A. I’ve been interested in art for as long as I can remember. As early as 4 years old I remember my mom sketching flowers on random notes and scraps of paper. I would always watch in admiration, hoping one day I could do the same. After moving to America [from Vietnam], school gave me an avenue for my love of art. If there was an art class available, I was in it. A lot of my encouragement came from my teachers, such as Mrs. Stacy McKean at Bentonville High School. She was my first art teacher in second grade. I had her again when I entered high school, which was when I began taking art more seriously.
Q. Are you influenced by your time in Vietnam or places you have traveled?
A. Yes! Places have such an influence on my art, mainly because each place I’ve lived—including Vietnam, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Arkansas—has had an effect on me. As each place shaped me as a person, my art evolved as well.
After college, I moved to Hawaii to work with a nonprofit organization that served international students attending the University of Hawaii. Their culture is predominately a mix of Polynesian and Asian, very different from the mainland. For the first time since moving from Vietnam, I was in the majority. It was there that I learned a lot about myself and my role in a community setting. The Hawaiian belief in “aloha” encompassed our love, respect, and honor toward one another and nature, and this has also had an influence on my art.
Q. Where do you find inspiration for your subject matters?
A. Most of my passion for art comes from who I am as a person and what I want people to feel or think when they look at my art. This is why I enjoy painting nature, mainly botanicals, so much. Nature and art are forms of communication that can be expressed and shared beyond language. I want to connect with people through the commonality of nature, while at the same time leading them to stop and admire the beauty of the world around them. This desire to connect is the driving focus of my passion for art. I believe that it will continue to evolve as I learn more about myself and those around me.
Q. Do you work solely from this inspiration or do you also take commissions?
A. I do take commissions. I really enjoy creating custom portraits of pets and people. A good majority of my commissions are for pet portraits, but they can definitely be for anything. One of my favorite commissions this year was for a 4-by-5-foot painting of a cherry blossom tree in acrylic. I used molding paste to create textured blossoms and tree bark, which was a lot of fun!
Q. Do you have a favorite spot you go to paint?
A. Since I love working with both watercolor and acrylic, my husband helped me create a studio in our home that will allow me to do both. He also built my pegboard display and shelf. It’s my favorite part of my whole studio! And it’s multi-functional in that I can use it to arrange my works, put together orders, and use it for craft shows since it disassembles easily.