BJ tuininga artistBJ Tuininga

New York, USA

Artist's Goal is to Share the “Emotional Joie de Vivre”

Passionate, Colorful, Flamboyant


As an artist, I was a late bloomer. I began with watercolor, of which I became quite masterful , as self-imposed therapy after contracting a debilitating illness.




The Birches Mixed media on canvas. 45.7cm x 35.6cm. 2009. private collection       ©BJ Tuininga


When my health improved, and it was quite clear that I was unable to return to my job as a preschool teacher, I returned to college at age 50 to get my BA in Art/Graphic Design with a Minor in Art History. It is through this venue that I was introduced to oil painting, and with my painting professor, I found the secret to my chosen medium, oils mixed with cold wax...

I am fortunate to come from an entire family of artists: aunts, cousins, my mother, sister and my own daughter. So when I began drawing at a young age it came as no surprise. I would draw (or read) every spare moment that I had available. Unfortunately, I was the intellectual and an art career was deemed to be out of the question. Besides we already had one accomplished artist. So I didn't take my work seriously until later in life.


window with viewSTYLE   

My work is very eclectic, but most generally it is Realism. However, because of my art history background and my own graduate studies in Mexican Baroque Art, I find that am influenced by so many of the artists of the past particularly when it comes to expressing issues.


Window with a View Mixed media on canvas.61cm x 61 cm.2010. ©BJ Tuininga



My favorite medium is definitely oils blended with cold wax. I work mostly with a myriad of palette knives, occasionally brushes. It is the texture that this medium creates and the emotional value in these paintings, along with the pure colors that reach out to people. It grabs that visceral sense that is so near the surface, but is so afraid to emerge.



I work on a gessoed canvas. I rough sketch the image then lay a thin undercoat of color in each section of the sketched areas. I blend the 40% cold wax with the 60% oils. The blending of the wax/oils and their usage has a lot to do with the external temperatures. If it is too warm it is like soup and you will be unable to get the texture in the painting. In which case, you need to mix the colors and the wax and them air dry, checking occasionally to see if they have thickened. BE AWARE! The wax shrinks when it dries. If you want it to go on textured like leaves on a tree or bush make sure you apply them as such. Think of it as sculpting your painting!


madonna of setting sunTHEMES   

My work is so eclectic... I work on a lot of landscapes particularly those which have a deep spiritual meaning or attachment for me. But many of my paintings are of an abstract or of an unusual perspective.










Madonna of the Setting Sun Acrylic on Canvas. 91.4cm x 61cm. ©BJ Tuininga



Where do you find ideas?   

I literally dream paintings. (I keep a sketchbook next to my bed so I can sketch an idea if I wake in the middle of the night) I have been known to get up in the middle of the night and paint an idea. I also take photographs, friends take photographs when they travel. I sketch ideas based on something I see such as a unique tree that I may use in a painting totally unrelated to its original habitat.


Why do you make art?    

I have had a lot heartache in my life, so consequently, I want my work to bring joy into the lives of the people who see my paintings. While I occasionally make political statements in my work, I am not usually about complex theories. I am simply about sharing the emotional joie de vivre. If I have accomplished this goal then it brings pleasure to my life as well.


How often do you paint?   

I try to paint several times a week.


mt rainier paintingWhat is the best artwork you ever painted?   

The painting was of Mt. Rainier. Would everyone think it was the best? I don't was for me personally.

Mt. Rainier Mixed media on canvas, 61cm x 91.4cm. 2008. private collection              ©BJ Tuininga


The painting was created one afternoon after learning that my best friend's cancer had aggressively returned. I painted my heart out...hardly thinking about what I was doing. The result was a deeply spiritual, ethereal painting of that Sacred Mountain. The painting never saw an exhibition, it was sold right away. My friend saw and sensed the same feelings when I sent her the picture of the painting...Her response was "I've seen this painting before." It was then that I told her that I had painted it the day that she left my house...


What is the role of the artist in society?   

Since the beginning of time, art has been an visual recording of our social history. The artist has been the creator of the images no matter the style.

pitcher of poppiesArt Promotion   

I prefer to have my art in a gallery type setting where I can talk with people directly. I find that it often improves the understandability of one's art and intentions.

Through blogs or lectures on art and art history where I can make comparisons to established artists works, and their interpreted intentions, and my own art work.





Pitcher of Poppies Mixed media on canvas. 50.8 cm x 45.7. 2002. ©BJ Tuininga




My original style, while unintentionally, is greatly influenced by the work of many artist and graphic designers. My background in both design and art history leaves me with a rich knowledge from which to glean influences from artists like Van Gogh, Spanish artist Miguel Cabrera, Picasso, Pollock, Georgia O'Keefe,and Russian painter and graphic designer Malevich.


Contemporary Artist Recommendation   

When I first met Connecticut artist Ted Mikulski, he had volunteered to come to Binghamton, NY to help us paint a community mural. Unfortunately this didn't work out, but it did introduce me to a vivacious young artist/art history professor. When I met him was painting Abstract Expressionist paintings in his garage, taking on any art projects that came up, and marketing himself to any gallery that would listen. I LOVE his abstracts and in fact, own his ” My Heart”, a wonderful Abstract Expressionist piece, which did steal my heart. But like all good artists he has moved on through small images, sculptures, and now images that will fall into the realm of Pop culture. He has made it into the world of the NY Galleries and has deserved every accolade. He is a dynamic speaker...his art history lectures are enthralling. Check out his progress at


starlight-star-brightPlease let us know something interesting in your life.    

It is not my intention to focus on my disability, but having a TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), surviving without the support of family, picking up and getting on with one’s life, and becoming an art entrepreneur IS A BIG deal!

Starlight Star Bright Mixed media on canvas board. 55.9 cm x 71.1 cm.2008.           ©BJ Tuininga


While I am of above normal intelligence, it now takes me twice as long to do everything because I cannot access the information as readily as I once did. Spelling is a challenge even with spell check. I am no longer a wordsmith, I type in words and hope that I have come within some proximity of the correct spelling and that spellcheck will recognize it. If it doesn't I use which seems to be more understanding.

Using the internet is a monumental challenge for someone with a left frontal lobe brain injury. This is where all of your sequential information is processed. You have no idea how many websites I as a former graphic designer, have declared absolutely NOT USER friendly. Haven't designers ever heard of the age old design mantra LESS IS MORE!

I have retaught myself to cook. I am a gourmet vegetarian chef working privately for an occasional neighbor. I have recently been able to read several pages in a book...and took great pride in the fact that I was able to read several chapters without distraction and actually remember snippets. You have no idea how REALLY BIG THIS IS!

I also have right side frontal lobe injury. WHAM there goes the art! So I struggle from time to time. But there are wonderful brilliant moments when the ideas and the information flows. So I am blest to have those moments and make the most of them!

I am about to embark on a book writing journey and fear no consequences. This is all about my dearest love, my art. It is a tell all book, my life and my history (briefly), the paintings and their influences, and my philosophies. I will dearly try not to bore you while maintaining a marginally professional image.


Did you ever feel like giving up art?   

It took me a long time to finally say to myself, "I am an artist," spoken in the professional sense. From that time onward I never gave up, even after my accident, when the creative flow was interrupted on a regular basis by chronic pain.


Where do you see yourself as an artist in 10 years?   

My goal as an artist is to have my own gallery /studio. I currently have two large easels set up in my kitchen. While I have struggled at times, I have every confidence in my work and my creative abilities. The response to my work is quite unanimous simply because I have such an eclectic style.I see myself evolving with each new idea and interest.


Advice for aspiring artists   

My advice to all aspiring artists is advice that was given to me by a dear friend, "Always remain true to yourself," and "Use only the purest of colors."


BJ Tuininga

Artist's Goal is to Share the Emotional Joie de Vivre

New York, USA

Website:  BJ Tuininga Fine Art

Twitter: Betty Tuininga 

Facebook Page: Art From the Heart

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