by KELLEY GUSICH | photos by Soul of Photography

Full Expression

faces_navarrete1Artist Tena Navarrete has lived in Olde Del Mar for the past 19 years, enjoying the small town feel and living among the Torrey Pines. In her studio, Tenart, she creates stories with images instead of words. The images reflect what she’s feeling at a particular moment in time, and Tena uses the elements of design to convey a certain mood or feeling. She finds inspiration in nature, architecture, and everyday experiences, like shadows cast on walls or streets, and cracks on the pavement. “It seems I see things that others may not take the time to notice,” she said.

Though Tena’s University of Southern California schooling resulted in an education in psychology and physical therapy, after raising her daughters she went back to school and immersed herself in art classes. She painted every chance she got and practiced seeing what could be created with paint and canvas. After trying watercolor, oil, monoprinting, silkscreening, and photography, Tena found she was able to express herself more fully with acrylic paints and other objects at her disposal. “I like finding things that others dismiss or throw away,” she shared. “I find excitement in repurposing – finding ways to use them in my work.”


Name: Tena Navarrete
Community: Olde Del Mar
Profession: Abstract Mixed Media Expressionist
Family: Daughters – Tracy, Kelly, and Jamie
Hobbies & Interests: Traveling, photography, and teaching art
Favorite Local Spots: Dog Beach, Cedros, Flower Hill, Del Mar Plaza, and Coast to Crest Trail

faces_navarrete2She also belongs to an art group with other talented artists. “It was started by local artist and teacher Jean McNeil Sargent,” Tena explained. They have professional and emerging artists working together to support one another. Tena also volunteers as a tutor with Casa de Amistad, and experiences great joy in donating artwork and some proceeds from her artwork to this and other organizations that help others. It might surprise people to learn that Tena travels monthly by train to Disneyland. “I never got to go as a child so I’m satisfying that inner child as an adult,” she smiled.

She also dances zydeco, having fallen in love with the grassroots music and the Creole culture. She belongs to a local zydeco group called the Bon Temps Social Club, and travels all over the country to dance festivals. The most rewarding part of creating and sharing her art? “Seeing how others connect with the work through their own life experiences.” Tena’s advice to aspiring artists includes listening to what each piece is trying to say, allowing it to evolve, and experimenting to see where it goes. “Enjoy the beauty that surrounds us,” she said. “Find art that you connect with, and place it in your home where you can enjoy it.”