Art provides a tremendous platform for storytelling. It allows us to see the world through the unique lens of the artist who created it, and often, see a person, place, animal or object in a new light––one we may not have previously considered. For artist Tina Roy, this has become her manière d’être when it comes to art –– to share the richness and beauty of the desert Southwest as she sees it.

Though Tina spent years traveling the globe, often painting the stories of the culture and place in which she was embedded at that moment, she realized over time that her heart remained in the desert Southwest. Born and raised in Arizona, there was something about the flora and fauna, mountains and wild monsoon-season storms that left an imprint on her soul. To this day, she’s happiest when she’s painting or hiking. And she’s found a way to combine the two.

One of Tina’s goals with her art was to depict the stories of the West, but bring a bit of a modern twist––bridging the gap between traditional Southwestern art and contemporary abstract art. The result is a body of work that reflects vibrant, lively colors juxtaposed by artifacts, people and plants that evoke a sense of rich history.

Read on or watch the video below to learn more about Tina, her journey through art, and a unique new series she recently developed.

When did you know art was your calling?

From a very young age. Even in elementary school, I remember painting pictures for my friends that they would put on their walls. I remember in middle school, it really seemed apparent that I was shining in art class. Then when I was 13, I went to London to visit my aunt who lived there. She had to go back to work my second week there, so she sent me to an art class, which was for all adults. I was the only kid. I’d be there all day. And that was really amazing to feel like, “Ok. I’m an artist and I’m here with all these artists doing this.”

I’ve loved experimenting with all mediums, watercolor, charcoal––just anything I can get my hands on really. I think it was probably after college or around college that I basically taught myself how to do oils because I have a degree in art history. I studied art and art history in Paris for four years, and every class was in the big museums in Paris––the Louvre, the Musee d’Orsay––and I just looked around and said, “Well, all these masters are painting in oil, so if I’m going to be a real artist, I need to paint in oil.”

How do you describe your work?

I describe my work as contemporary Western. It’s not like the traditional cowboys on a horse in the mountains, but it’s also not contemporary abstract. I’m trying to bridge that gap and hopefully find an audience who appreciates the culture of the Southwest and wants to have that represented, but with maybe a new interesting twist.

What do you love most about creating art?

I can’t not do it. I think that’s it. I just love it. I love doing it, and it’s really where I’m my happiest––making art and hiking. Those are my two happiest times.

With a lot of my paintings, I will feature wildflowers from the Sonoran Deser, and bones––all of the bones in my paintings are bones that I have collected from camping trips or hiking trips. So those get featured in my paintings.

How has your work evolved?

I did a lot of traveling. I lived in Paris for four years, but before that, I lived in Argentina for a year as an exchange student in high school. Then when I graduated college, I took a backpack and traveled around the world and I was always painting in different parts of the world where I was again, just going and buying whatever––chalk pastels or something––whatever I could get my hands on. I even stayed for an extended period once in Thailand where I did this really cool painting when I was there and then traded it for my stay at the hotel. So, I think that depending on where I was, I allowed myself to be influenced by the culture and the colors and the feel of wherever I was.

Now, I’m back in Arizona where I was born and raised. Growing up in the Southwest, I had all of this influence, and I love hiking. I love being outside. The energy of the desert has a very strong influence on me, and I think that that comes out in my work.

For instance, I have this fun painting of Mount Humphreys that I worked on from an image that I took from the top of the summit. It’s the tallest mountain in Arizona. It’s almost 14,000 feet. My husband and I hiked to the top one summer a couple years ago, looked out north and saw this huge thundercloud coming through. It was just dumping rain and I love the storms here. Monsoon season is one of my favorite times of year because of the clouds and the way that the rain comes down in sheets. I wanted to capture that, but in a way that you’re really at eye level with the cloud.

How do you push yourself to test new concepts?

I have a new shadow series in which I’ve taken different bones and flowers that I’ve collected in the desert and then I make a little shadow box with a gray background, get a spotlight and I figure out where the shadows are the most interesting. Then I’ll take a picture of that and I put that into a digital art program. From there, I can manipulate it––play with or add a horizon line, play with the colors, and add or subtract anything. Then that becomes what I work from. So that becomes my source material. So, the image I usually paint from with this series is half photograph, half digital art to then create a painting.

What brings you to the Celebration of Fine Art?

I was born and raised in Scottsdale and I’ve been coming to this show for years. I used to come whenever I was in town with my parents and brought my husband when were dating. It was the first time he’d ever come. And it’s very exciting to be here now, just because I love art and I love talking to the artists, and I love this show.