Painting with a passion while telling a story

Painting with a passion while telling a story
Published: Oct. 23, 2023 at 6:43 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - When walking into Tami Phelps’ home in Anchorage, it’s like walking into an art gallery. Each wall in her home is covered in art and each piece tells a story.

Phelps is a lifelong Alaskan who said art has always been a part of her life. After retiring from a 20-year career as a teacher at Denali Montessori, she got into photography.

“I did that for quite a long time and truly loved that and I decided, you know, I might try to do a little bit different kind of art,” she said.

Phelps dabbled around until she found a type of art she loved, called cold wax painting. Her work has been featured in London, New Mexico, and New York.

Most recently, a painting of hers called “Methane Blues” was one of 90 artworks selected from more than 800 submissions to be featured in the National Climate Assessment Report. It’s also being used in postcard promotion.

“I find myself making a lot of work about global warming and other things related to that and so I sent in a piece and they accepted it and it will be published in their report sometime end of the month or November,” Phelps explained.

A lot of her artwork is focused on nature. Phelps has a loft area in her home that she calls her “happy place.” It’s where she gets to work creating her masterpieces. Cold wax is a slow process, she said. It uses a combination of beeswax and solvent, which gives it the consistency of shortening.

“It has kind of more of a matte finish and a real textural finish, and kind of a translucency that I really, really love,” Phelps said. “I took a couple mini workshops and then got serious about it, went to Italy and did a workshop with my mentors and I really value what they taught me and just kind of have been growing ever since.”

Phelps demonstrated what it’s like to paint with cold wax, even giving texture to the painting using crumbled wax paper. She also showed how she created birch trees on another painting using cut-up pieces of vellum.

Painting is Phelps’ passion, but it’s also a platform where she can make her own impact in hopes of inspiring others.

“As an artist, I do have the opportunity to take that platform and I really think art is very, very powerful and so that’s my attempt at making a difference,” she said.

Those interested in checking out Phelps’ art can find it on her website.