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

Hi Stephanie, why did you pursue a creative career?
From an early age I enjoyed expressing myself through my creativity, whether that be through painting or music or writing. I loved seeing what I could create and sharing that with others. Growing up I secretly wanted to be a full time artist but didn’t believe that I could make a successful career out of it. After all the term “starving artist” exists for a reason. I took the safer route and studied interior design in college and while I loved using my creative mind to solve problems I still wondered about my dream to be an artist. After college “real life” set in and I didn’t have much time to think about that dream so it faded away and while I still used my creativity in other ways I pretty much decided that being a full time artist just wasn’t meant for me.

When I moved to Tucson in 2017 and discovered the beauty of the Sonoran Desert I started once again thinking about that long forgotten dream and finally picked up my paintbrushes after ignoring them for years. I started painting desert sunsets and wildflowers for fun and with the encouragement of friends and family decided I would officially launch my art business: Brushes and Boots. I knew if I never tried I would never know if I could be that full time artist I’ve dreamed about since I was little. Brushes and Boots was grown out of the beauty I’ve found hiking and painting the Sonoran Desert. My hope is that through my art you see the desert in a new way and are inspired to explore it for yourself.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m endlessly inspired by the Sonoran Desert. Through my artwork I love to show off the abundance of color and life that is found in this beautiful place. When I first moved to Tucson, I’m sad to say I thought the desert was a boring, dry, sandy place where nothing really grew. I know I’m not the only one who thinks that. If you haven’t spent a lot of time in the desert it’s easy to have the wrong impression. Through my hiking adventures I began to explore the different areas in and around Tucson and found myself discovering how wrong I was! After each hike my phone was full of pictures showing bright colorful flowers and towering tall cacti along with the most vibrant sunsets and stunning mountain landscapes. I was fascinated to learn the names of native plants and flowers. The more I learned the more I appreciated the diversity of life that not only lives but thrives in the desert. I want to share what I’ve learned with others and help them see how unique and beautiful the Sonoran Desert truly is. By focusing on painting the native flowers and plants found here I hope others can see the desert in a new way and learn more about the place we get to call home.

I also love to encourage people, especially women, to get out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors through hiking. I was a complete hiking beginner when I first moved to Tucson 5 years ago and I remember how overwhelming it can feel to start learning about gear and how to find the right trail and what to bring with you. I want to help others learn how to safely hike and explore more of Tucson through hiking. Through my hiking blog on my website I share stories and photos of my hiking and backpacking adventures. I’ve hiked in some beautiful places, including in 2019 hiking 230-ish miles of the John Muir Trail in the Sierra Nevada. This is where the Boots of “Brushes and Boots” comes into play!

In 2022 I plan to start offering Brushes and Boots painting and hiking workshops, allowing you to experience the beauty of the Sonoran Desert and then creatively capture it through painting.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
First I would start with a visit to Saguaro National Park West to see the saguaros up close and personal. For a great 360 degree view we’d hike to Wasson Peak in the Tucson Mountains and then catch sunset at Gates Pass. We’d make sure to spend a day downtown and on Historic 4th Avenue shopping at Antigone Books, Pop Cycle and checking out the beautiful murals by local artists. On the weekend we would stop at St Philips Plaza Market to support local artists and makers and then the Rillito Park Farmers Market for some locally grown produce and fresh tortillas or tamales for dinner. I always like to stop at Summit Hut with out of town friends to check out the latest outdoor gear and pick up maps for local trails. I absolutely love the drive up to Mt Lemmon but I’d make sure we stop at Le Buzz for coffee and fresh baked pastries before heading into the pines to hike at the top of the mountain. If we had an extra day we’d spend the night under the stars camping near Mt Bigelow. For breakfast our last day we’d head to Baja Cafe for snickerdoodle pancakes.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Anastasia Allison of Kula Cloth has been an amazing mentor and coach to me and Brushes and Boots. She helped me find the courage to not only acknowledge the fact that I wanted to be a full time artist but encouraged me to go after it. She famously says “anything is possible” and that belief helped push me to realizing this dream. I’m endlessly thankful for her and Kula Cloth for supporting and cheering me on.

Website: www.brushesandboots.com

Instagram: instagram.com/brushesandboots

Facebook: facebook.com/brushesandboots

Image Credits
All photos by Stephanie Daniels except for the last one with my arms up in the air is by James Galloway-Reed

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.