When mixed media artist Tim Weldon began creating art, he started to see the world through a heightened sense of awareness. Suddenly, everything around him––flowers, stones, the sky, people––was rich with story, texture and character. As he started to explore the world with this renewed sense of wonder––collecting stories experiences and objects along the way––he realized he was simply a conduit for sharing these stories through his art.

And his work is very rich with story, whether it’s one of his paintings, sculptures or mixed media wall art pieces. His collection of experiences play out in the form of nostalgic ephemera and vintage items he’s collected through his travels and creative endeavors, as well as characters and personalities who’ve imprinted on him in some way. Themes of song, dance and theater are common in his work––and it isn’t any wonder. Tim dabbled in each of those domains throughout his life.

While he still loves those other art forms, he saw creating art as a way to communicate messages and share back out into the world, the everyday beauty he sees in it. Tim achieves this through the narratives of his distinctive characters and the vintage found objects he uses to create texture and story––both of which have a way of pulling viewers and allowing them a few moments of joyous, often nostalgic, escape.

Read on or watch the video below to learn more about Tim, what he loves most about creating art and how he developed his very unique style.

When did you know art was your calling?

I’ve been a creative since I was a little kid. I used to dance. I’ve played around in the theater. I was in the music business for a time. Everything I’ve ever done in my life has been a creative endeavor. Everything I see is always with a creative twist. So, I think it was sort of a natural progression for me to come back here [to painting].

I come from a big family and I remember drawing and painting as a way to kind of tune out the chaos. And though I may come across kind of gregarious sometimes or excitable, in general, I’m mostly pretty shy and very introspective. It’s sort of an imaginary world, and it’s kind of a safe place for me––a little bit of a bubble. I can kind of coexist in that world that I’ve created. It shelters me a little bit, but it also gives me another viewpoint from that perspective as well.

What do you love most about the creative process?

The process is everything. Once I started painting again, I noticed that my senses were heightened. I started to notice things like a flower blooming, the dramatic variations in the sky, the landscape in general, people. I look at people differently from the outsider perspective as they’re walking by, noticing different personality traits and little quirks.

My senses were just heightened once I decided to pursue art, and I realized that was my calling. I feel blessed to be able to put this back out into the world and share it. Having this as a living, it’s a dream come true to be able to produce art and have people support you and get behind you.

How did you develop your unique style?

When I started painting again, around the late 90s, what really kicked it into gear for me was the birth of my first son. That, and looking at life through his eyes, everything a wonder because I was living it all over again as a child in a way. So, the boys were both very influential for me early on in my work. Now that they’re grown and moving on with their own lives, I find that I’m more inspired by other artists’ work. I look at a lot of art and magazines, books, museums, galleries, and think, “I wish I would’ve done that,” or “What if I take a little bit of that and a little bit of this and a little bit of that and a little bit of this, and then I put it into a pot and I stir it up.” Then it comes out looking a lot like me. But because I feel like I’m just sort of the conduit for the information to come through. I’m just a vehicle for the information to pass through.

Where did the idea for your main character come from?

I call the guy that’s in my paintings “Whistle Man” because he looks like he’s whistling. I think people, when they whistle, they kind of have a happy-go-lucky kind of vibe to them. And I got fired from a bar before it even opened for whistling inside the place. It was a blessing that it happened, but at the time it wasn’t.

Then my ex-wife got me this sculpture one year that was called “Whistle Man” and it just was this smooth stone with eyes and it had a hole where the mouth was. And I just kept thinking…whistle man, whistle man. And so Whistle Man sort of found a new home. I also call him “El”, meaning “The”. Whoever he is in that particular painting, he’s the poet, the magician, the entertainer, the chef. He wears different hats. That’s why you’ll see a lot of hats in my paintings. So, he has a different personality because we all have different personalities. That was probably the main source of inspiration for this look. It’s evolved over the years, but he seems to pop up in every painting, whether I want him to or not.

How has your work evolved?

Initially, I started out just painting, and then at some point I got into texture. I liked the use of texture because it gave this simple look kind of an emotional punch that I wanted it to have. I didn’t want it to just feel whimsical. I wanted there to be some depth to it.

I also really loved the work of a few artists, Robert Rauschenberg, Louise Nevelson, and a painter from Oakland named Raymond Saunders. They mixed a lot of mediums together. Nevelson did these reliefs with things at different levels. So the texture came from the ingredients. So, I would say the work evolved because of the use of different mediums and different objects and found objects. Instead of the texture coming from paint or molding, paste and sand, it came from the actual relief of the ingredients.

Then the paintings themselves have evolved by the variation and the depth of the texture, where they feel almost more stonelike. Now, being in the Southwest, I see all these rock formations driving around Southern Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. So, the paintings, even though they look like people, they feel more like rocks or boulders or monumental pieces in the sense that the figures themselves have this sort of mountainous quality to them.

I’ve also learned over the years to trust my instincts. Early on, if I saw what I perceived as an accident, I didn’t know how to deal with it. But now I embrace the happy accident. I let it be. I let live because I feel like it was meant to happen. It was meant for it to come out like that. That’s when I feel like you’re in it completely––I call it serendipitous exploration.

What brings you back to the Celebration of Fine Art?

This is like a family here. It’s like a highly functioning, dysfunctional family of creatives. I come back every year and I look forward to coming back every year because I know I’m going to see a group of friends that I’ve met only here. That’s special.

It’s turned my life around financially for sure, but also my work has grown from being here. There’s so much talent in the tent that you can’t help but pick up different things from different people, especially when your senses are attuned to what’s happening.