The Ever Changing Moods of Visual Artist Tessa Mendoza

  • September 19, 2018

Visual artist Tessa Mendoza’s path to self-discovery is adopting new techniques when inspiration strikes, following a creative rhythm of her own

Tessa Mendoza reminisces that at the age of 10, she was always doodling on the back pages of her notebooks during class. “I remember that in the fourth grade, my art teacher asked the whole class to take as much paper as we could from her desk and draw something pretty.” Two of Tessa’s drawings were included among those that were displayed, and she was amazed at the recognition given to her work.

Tessa Mendoza (Photograph by Jar Concengco)
Tessa Mendoza (Photograph by Jar Concengco)

First Time with Paint

“In the 80’s, I began painting with watercolors; that was my very first experience with paint. My subjects were usually animals: dogs, horses, fighting cocks and fish.” It was later when Mendoza found herself intrigued by acrylic paints and canvas. The self-taught artist has had her works exhibited in Manila and while she was living abroad. The paintings were praised by the North Vancouver Community Arts Council and the Société des Artistes Canadiens, both of which she is a member. One summer in high school, Mendoza took a workshop with artist Jonah Salvosa, but never pursued studies in Fine Arts in college. “My art was on hold when I got married and started raising my kids. I only picked it up again when they were already in high school and more independent.”

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Alice by Tessa Mendoza
Alice by Tessa Mendoza

Musings on Painting

Since her last exhibit in 2016, Mendoza has been painting contemporary portraits using gold leaf. “It gives me so much pleasure to paint this way. I think it’s the sparkle that induces my ideas to flow with spontaneity,” she enthuses, adding that her process usually begins with half an idea and that the succeeding ones just tumble out of her mind and onto the canvas. “Painting is exciting and fun but it can also be mentally exhausting. In between painting portraits, I tend to produce pieces in a completely different style or method.” Mendoza says that perhaps this is her way of taking a breather or what she surmises, “…could be my subconscious resetting, to relax and recharge.”

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Nativity by Tessa Mendoza
Nativity by Tessa Mendoza

Wellspring of Inspiration

Mendoza considers painting a form of meditation, involving deep introspection and deliberation. “I can get lost in my thoughts for hours while painting; it is definitely a mental exercise in trusting in my ability to translate my thoughts and imagination onto the canvas.” Her process sometimes involves using not only brushes, but also her fingers and other objects to apply color and texture to her paintings. “I’m inspired by nature, relationships, travel and spirituality. For my more emotionally-charged paintings, I draw on the story of Adam and Eve: it’s all about beauty, desire, temptation, regret and untimely love.”

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Willow by Tessa Mendoza
Willow by Tessa Mendoza

My Art Is Me

She quotes noted painter Gustav Klimt: I have the gift of neither the spoken nor the written word…whoever wants to know something about me, as an artist, ought to look carefully at my pictures and try and see in them what I am and what I want to do.

“I agree with him. My art is a reflection of my personal experiences. They tell the story of what has been on my mind and heart at some point in time.”

This year, Tessa has been busy creating one-line drawings, charcoal sketches, oil pen figures, and is hoping someday soon to incorporate a Valencian Illuminism style she discovered on a recent trip to Spain. Mendoza’s contemporary, expressionist art pieces exude a unique sensitivity and beauty, both of which are experienced through the myriad of emotions and imaginings that are at the very heart of her work.

Follow @tessamendozaart on Instagram