by Dr. Christy Rodriguez de Conte
Mary Liz Tippin-Moody creates whimsical, dream-inspired images that enchant and bring joy at this year’s Artist’s League of the Big Bend’s annual Summer show, “Permutations.” It runs from July 13 to Aug. 31 with an opening reception from 5-7:30 p.m. July 14 at the TCC Fine Art Gallery at the Fine and Performing Arts Center.
The role of the tortured, suffering artist is not one that Tippin-Moody would like to play. For the illustrator, artist, and arts educator, art has always been about spreading joy. “Art didn’t make me suffer. That’s where I went to get relief,” says Tippin-Moody.
Her mother was an elementary school teacher and artist, and her father was a woodworker and craftsman. She recalls the days spent playing outside the Ruby Diamond Concert Hall at Florida State University while her mother took art classes inside. The Tippin-Moody bunch created their brand of art-making with a family-run business, Stone Ridge Crafts.
The art world was a family affair that would take their craft business through the art circuit. “I was fortunate to grow up in a family of makers. The family business sold wooden furniture and pins (we’d make). I was used to making art all the time.”
Growing up within an artistic family breeds confidence in one’s artistry that manifests in one’s work. Tippin-Moody forged a successful creative career after receiving her Bachelor of Arts Education at Florida State University. She engaged in many artistic mediums, including ink and pen drawings, designing graphics, creating watercolor and acrylic paintings, and detailed hand-painted pottery.
Through the years, Tippin-Moody has remained loyal to her first love of illustration. “I always liked children’s book illustrations. It’s like a religious experience – children’s books, drawings, and paintings. I’d paint plaques with pictures that were from the old Winnie-the-Pooh books… I’m really retro.”
Tippin-Moody found the works of Richard Scarry inspirational. His ability in illustrations to capture the whimsical world of a child influenced her current work and attitude toward art.
Dreams can clarify our desires — physical, mental, or artistic. An artist can close their eyes only to discover a masterpiece awaiting them. But how does one make such things a reality?
Tippin-Moody illustrates that it is with great purpose and intention. She begins by documenting her dreams, “I have piles and piles of sketchbooks (and) journals. I get ideas in the shower or car, and I always make my mind roll it over till I get to a space (where I can) sketch it down.”
Next, she chooses a medium. Although she favors watercolors layered with ink and colored pencils, she appreciates the controlled detail she can get with the acrylic Posca pens. When working with clay, Tippen-Moody is a fan of sgraffito and underglaze. It’s a technique where potters can put a layer of colored glaze on pottery, let it dry, then carve designs to reveal the base layers.
Tippin-Moody’s knowledge of various art forms is a strength she has gained through her training and practice as an art educator. She has taught in community and universities alike. She has served Tallahassee as a teacher at the senior center for the past seven years.
“I teach them all how to break things down from your head. They are throwing off their negative comments that get in the way. I like mentoring and teaching,” Tippin-Moody said. “We try out new processes there, and other people’s ideas will spark one of my own. I get a chance to work on things and give them ideas. It’s a nice group of people. I love that they are finding a way.”
Even from the early iterations of the Artist’s League of the Big Bend (ALBB), when it had close ties to the FSU Museum of Fine Arts (MoFA) over 30 years ago, Tippin-Moody was there. She connected with the organization’s desire to create a place where artists could be part of a community and share their art.
For this reason, in 2019, the two organizations split, and members organized to create a “reformed” version of the ALBB that continued in the spirit of collective community building. The Artist’s League of the Big Bend officially became a nonprofit corporation with the Florida Department of State.
It partnered with Tallahassee Community College to annually develop a summer group show. This year marks ALBB’s 2023 4th Summer Annual Show. “Permutations” features 85 art pieces from 43 artists to be showcased at the Tallahassee Community College’s Fine Art Gallery. The exhibition is juried by Kabuya Pamela Bowens-Saffo, the curator of the Anderson-Brickler Gallery in Tallahassee.
Tippin-Moody brings whimsical joy to this exhibition with a dream-inspired woodland scene. Her signature illustration style shines in a piece that plays on the magical nature of a full moon and the springs that once filled Tallahassee’s backyard.
“It’s a real eclectic show,” says Tippin-Moody. “I’m just glad (for) people (to) get out to see it. Very little of it is realistic, (and it uses) very expressive voice and diverse mediums. People are surprised when they go see it.”
Read the article on the Tallahassee Democrat.