Artist Spotlight: Dee Tivenan

 Blue Tulips  30x40 Mixed Media on Panel    $1500

"The five of us are in a critique group. We met through classes and shows and have been friends for a number of years. We have been able to watch our art change and grow. We are happy to support Fro, who is creative and works so hard.

In Flight   30x40 Mixed Media    $1500

I was born in Detroit, Michigan and was raised in Highland Park, Illinois. My mother was a housewife, volunteer and someone who was always making things. She made clay sculptures, needlepoint pillows and sewed clothes and costumes. My father was in advertising. I remember sitting around the dinner table making up advertising jingles and slogans for his clients. Even though none were ever used, it was creative and fun. My sister was a dancer. She knew this is what she wanted to do by age 2 and a half. She continued to dance until she was 50. Then there was me. My mother called me 'doodlebug' probably because I was doodling on everything. When we were growing up, people said 'Janet is a dancer - what does Dee do?' For lack of something concrete, my dad said, 'She’s diversified.' It stuck.

Meditation   30x40 Mixed Media   $1500

I was the kid who was too afraid to take an art class in high school because I didn’t know how to draw. I did lots of other things (social, sports and doodling), but secretly admired those who painted.

When I went to college, I majored in Special Education. I always had an affinity for working with children and people, and to be completely honest, I didn’t want to work twelve months a year. I fell in love with ceramics and the potter’s wheel in college and also dabbled in watercolors.

Moving Still Life   53x6 mixed media  $4800

When I graduated, I moved to Washington state to live by the mountains and ocean. I also continued pottery. My first special education job was with severely disabled adults who had spent most of their lives lying on institutions floors. But a law requiring compulsory education had passed and being young, and beginning to drink coffee, I immersed myself in the job along with other recent graduates. We helped toilet train, teach very basic sign language and developed relationships with these young adults. Two experiences there really affected me. I realized that anyone can learn, no matter how severely disabled, and that play is very important. I have always viewed myself as a bit silly and have learned to laugh at myself. I wrote a curriculum to teach profoundly disabled adults to play and began using it as well as teaching other teachers.

Transparency  48x36 Acrylic   $2160

After 5 years in Washington, I realized I wanted to go back to school. I moved to San Francisco and started a doctoral program in Educational Psychology and Counseling and studied to get my Marriage, Family Therapist License. Continuing my interest in play, I wrote my dissertation on the difference between adult play and work. Six long years later I finished both. I did not have much play or creative time during those years.

Fast forward. I’ve been in private practice as a psychotherapist for over 35 years. I love the work and the people. It has been a perfect fit for me. Over the years, I dabbled some in creative outlets, but most of my time outside of work was raising my daughter and going to school and sports events. 

When I was 59, my father died. My sister in New York and I both started painting. The funny thing was we never talked to each other about it. I started taking classes and fell in love with everything about painting. Now it’s part of my daily life on an emotional and social level. I have also enjoyed the learning process that classes and experimentation bring. However, it was just this year (close to 10 years later) that I discovered how similar painting is to practicing psychotherapy. They both require creativity (thinking outside of the box), mindfulness, patience, rational self-talk vs catastrophic self-talk, being aware of feelings, community, letting go of outcomes and play. For the first time in my life, I feel I’ve integrated these two interests. I feel very lucky.

My style of painting is abstract expression. I hope the paintings evoke some thoughts or feelings for you. Even though my paintings are personal expressions, sharing the work is a privilege."

Click here to learn more about Dee's art.

To purchase any of the artwork shown, click here to submit payment online via PayPal. Include the artist's name and title of the art in the note field. We will confirm a "no-contact" porch pickup appointment with you via email.