The layered creative life of a Freeland artist

Posted in Feature, More Stories, Spotlight, Visual Art

Whidbey Life Magazine contributor
Oct. 9, 2013

Like a superhero leaping to it in a single bound, Kim Tinuviel is always up for a creative challenge.

Here’s a woman who wears many hats: classical musician, graphic designer, photographer, encaustic artist, business woman, teacher, and most recently, metal sculptor. Each of her passions has led Tinuviel to the next, like crumbs on a path, drawing her toward yet another skill to learn and master, and another vision to realize. (Tinuviel is one of Whidbey Life Magazine’s Virtual Gallery featured artists through October.)

Savanna Afterglow and Twilight Dance, ©Kim Tinuviel

Pictured are examples of the artist’s light sculptures, “Savanna Afterglow” and “Twilight Dance,” ©Kim Tinuviel. / Photo courtesy of the artist

The Freeland resident’s latest work combines her new passion for metal work with her encaustic skills in the beautiful and luminescent works entitled “Light Sculptures.” Made from hand-cut, hand-edged, hand-riveted sheet metal and copper, her cylinders hold shades made of hand-made paper and encaustic paints that are lit from within by a small light source. Her first offering of “Light Sculptures” is long gone; another 10 will be ready in time for Christmas. Many are spoken for.

Tinuviel has had a remarkable journey to becoming a fine artist.  A gifted bassist, she attended the Juilliard School in New York City, and is a professional musician by trade, who performs with many orchestras around the region.  In the late 80’s and early 90’s she entered the graphic design field just as it was transitioning to the digital format.

“I had my feet in both worlds,” she said, “and as computers came in and changed everything, I found my own sense of aesthetic design.”

Around 2005, Tinuviel began using photography to express herself as a visual artist, and that opened up a whole new world of possibility for her.

“I began to think of the camera as my paint brush,” she said.

She discovered her own techniques of using light and effects to bring a three-dimensional quality to her prints. Her recent show, ChromoAlchemy, highlights this strength through the subject of decaying trucks and farm equipment, something readily available on the island.

“I go on little camera adventures and look for old and odd things being lit up by the sun,” she said.

Gifted with an unusual neurological condition called synesthesia, Tinuviel is able to “hear” colors, and this communication between her senses has made her transition into visual mediums interesting, to say the least.  Asked whether she hears music while she’s creating art, she states, “Yes, it can be really beautiful, and can help me find the form of the piece.  But sometimes, it can get in the way. Then I have to block it out.”

Her recent foray into metal work seems to be a logical step from photographing metal forms. Now she is manipulating the metal herself, instead of just interpreting it.

TINUVIEL_plasma_cutting (500x281)

Tinuviel cuts plasma for one of her light sculptures./Photo courtesy of the artist.

“My sister and I got interested in working with metal, and we just dove right in,” she said.  Building her own jigs and learning the ins and outs of welding are proving challenging and engaging.  New designs are in the offing, and this step into mixed media promises to be an exciting time in Tinuviel’s creative career.

Additionally, Tinuviel teaches classes through the Whidbey Island Community Education Center at Bayview in photo encaustics (the next class will be held Oct. 16 and 17).  She also hosts camera walks in Langley periodically, where she volunteers her time to help aspiring photographers with their craft.

A natural teacher, she is also available for private lessons in her studio, which is a cozy space with a full kitchen and a happily overstuffed couch.

“Encaustics are such a rewarding medium,” she said, while standing beside a main work surface in the studio.

“It’s warm and smells like honey… and the tactile sense, as well; it has such a soft, silky texture, yet is so strong.”

Tinuviel has found that photo encaustic classes are very popular with students who take photographs using subjects from their lives and transform them into works of art.

Peacock Nebula encaustic mixed-media by Kim T.

“Peacock Nebula,” encaustic mixed-media, by Kim Tinuviel./Photo courtesy of the artist

“The genesis of it all is the photo,” Tinuviel said.

“Then the student applies the wax, resin and pigments, and creates texture and depth. Suddenly, the photo has been transformed into something completely different.  It is very satisfying work,” she added.

Teacher, sculptor, photographer, musician, graphic designer; Tinuviel does it all, and in the process, has created a rich and layered life for herself.

“I cobble it all together,” she said with a smile. “And, it works.”

To view Tinuviel’s work, visit the Virtual Gallery, or visit her WLM profile page.

To set up a time to meet Tinuviel and tour her studio, call 360-639-4299 or email her at

For information about upcoming classes at the Whidbey Island Community Education Center, visit its profile page here.

(Pictured at top, “Untitled 12” by Kim Tinuviel, can be viewed in the Virtual Gallery.)

Penny Webb is a mom, musician, writer, dreamer, and cyclist.  Her latest venture is learning to juggle 13 things at once.  


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