Historical accuracy. Personal expression. Family stories. Beauty.
Many of our customers choose to have a painting added to their lodge to make it uniquely theirs. The addition of animals, designs, symbols or story-telling images are an important part of tipi history. Depending on the tribal affiliation, tipis were painted to reflect historical events in the tribe’s history, personal visions of the tipi owner, or tribal symbols. Each tribe has a unique style of painting. We approach tipi painting with reverence for the history and appreciation for the beauty. Crafting authentic Sioux style tipis for over 40 years, our approach has always been to honor, preserve and celebrate Native American culture.
All of our tipis are designed and hand-painted by our incredibly talented tipi artist, Shauna Tewksbury.
Shauna is originally from Vermont, and came to Colorado 18 years ago after living in Arizona. She has a degree in fine art photography and cultural studies from Prescott College, and has always been interested in historical photographic processes and ethnobotany. Her interest and appreciation for cultures has served well in learning about tipi art and history. Shauna says, “Being a tipi painter has been unique experience in which I have learned about the history of the tipi as a dwelling, about different Native American design styles, and how the painted design was a family’s dedication to the guiding forces of the universe.”
Describing her almost six years painting tipis, Shauna says, “A typical work day for me often involves painting a design picked by the customer from our website’s “Paint your Tipi” tool. I use a scribe to determine the proportions and I have stencils for the animal shapes. I use brushes, paint pads and other methods to apply the paint to the canvas while it’s lying flat in our shop. Although I do some designs over and over, they always have a unique look that comes from hand-painting. There is zen-like learning process in which I evolve my craftsmanship and process.”
About 1/3 of our customers choose to have a custom design. That is a process where Shauna gets to know them and translates their vision to the canvas. One of her favorite custom jobs was creating a design to represent a lotus for a meditation space. “I enjoy the challenge of translating a customer’s idea to the tipi canvas and the creativity involved.”
Outside of her job here, Shauna is an accomplished artist exploring new themes, techniques and mediums in photography. She currently has a one-woman show hanging in nearby Ridgway “Art in the Time of Corona”. This work combines photography and encaustic medium and pigments to create one-of-a-kind pieces. The show runs through early November at 610 Gallery.
When not in the studio working on art, Shauna enjoys being outside as much as possible. Her favorite activities are mountain biking and skate skiing in the winter with a river trip or two thrown in each year.