We had the good fortune of connecting with Robin TenElshof and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Robin, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
My passions in high school were sports, art and photography. I graduated from Patagonia Highschool and never had an art teacher, so when I attended college as an Art major I felt so inadequate as an artist and gave up. I still did art through the years, whether it be for church, plays or if friends wanted paintings. I wanted stability and I became a nurse and ended up in the Metro Detroit area where I loved visiting the DIA and the Diego Rivera Murals. It connected me to home. Ive traveled to Kenya and Uganda where me and my husband served on Medical Mission teams helping The Pokot and other tribes in the bush of Kenya (also another passion). before moving back to Tucson to be close to family. But after having lost both parents to lung cancer within a 9 month period of time and having them in Hospice at my house, I turned back to art to cope with their losses. It started with painting rocks and putting them around the neighborhood as lots of people were doing to cope with 2020. I started having people reach out for me to paint stuff for them as well as asking my oldest daughter to paint for them. She is now 19 years old and has received numerous awards as well as a Bronze award from camelback gallery in Scottsdale. She will also have an exhibit at the Tucson International airport in July. Someone had asked her to do an art show, she only had a few pieces so I made a few things to have at her booth and that is how I started. Trying to help her I found my way back to art. that’s how my business began.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love art like I grew up with in Tucson. Bright colorful, hispanic, Native American art always speaks to me. I very rarely work on canvas. I hand paint, hand solder and hand embroider hats. Hand paint boots, shoes and jackets. It was hard to know where to start but at shows, and markets I’ve met a lot of very encouraging fellow artists who have reached out to encourage or notify me of venues. It has been very cool. Being home with my parents made me really think of the things I wanted to do before I died. Being a mom is always my number one, serving others through nursing will always be who I am. But I’m finding my inner artists again and it feels good. I want people to know its never too late to do what you love. Don’t live with regrets,

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The gaslight Theatre is my happy place. I loved going there as a kid, when I’d come home to visit I had to go there. San Javier mission. El Nene taco truck. 4th avenue.

Goyitas, La Indita. Made in Tucson Market and the 4th avenue street fair. Its cool to see how creative people are. Eegees. De Grazia gallery in the sun, Medicine Man Caller, Tubac

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My mother Cheryl Leoni, she was extremely encouraging, always taught me I could do anything I put my mind to, and never quit. However she told me never to make art my career. I’m glad she did tell me that because I ended up in Detroit as a single mom and art wouldn’t of paid the bills. I thank God I had my nursing degree at the time.

She encouraged my art but was a very practical and extremely hardworking strong woman. On my art, my neighbor Gail was the first one outside family and friends that I feel saw something in my art, Ive done a few pieces for her and a few hats. She always said my art spoke to her and that was a huge game changer for me.

Website: LittleLeoniPaints.etsy.com

Instagram: @rtenelshof

Facebook: Little Leoni Photography and paints

Image Credits
One pic of cowgirl is Cowgirl Cait

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