Born in Portland, Oregon, but raised largely in Pinole, California, Thea DeFeyter, the oldest of six siblings found herself oftentimes retreating to her art---painting, drawing and always taking pictures. Thea’s passion, even as a child, was art. Her art professor once told her, “Thea, you have paint that flows through your veins.”
Her passion for painting and photography continued as did her lifelong dream of living in Tillamook County at the beach in Oceanside. Her family vacationed in Oceanside throughout her childhood and even in her young, married life, Thea brought her own children to vacation in Oceanside and always looked for property, but nothing fit her budget. Not discouraged, she always promised herself that “someday, I will live here.” From oldest child of six to Mother of three grown children and four grandchildren, Thea decided it was her turn to get her degree and so enrolled at Portland State graduating in 2005 with a degree in psychology and another in sociology taking art courses all through her years at PSU. Her education also included visiting all of the art museums in Western Europe studying art, architecture and the Impressionists.
Thea’s first art installment was in downtown Portland at Twelfth and Jefferson. She’d noticed when driving by how the building had huge windows with equally huge black cases ringing the inside of the windows. She imagined how her work could be beautifully showcased in the cases and so contacted the building owner to inquire if he was interested in her work. He liked the idea and so for the next year, she saw her work “shining like jewels” everyday when she drove by. From that installment, Oregon Gardens commissioned her to paint their oak tree on the Oregon Garden grounds. Her piece, “The Rings of Life” became the focal of an elaborate outdoor Summer dinner celebration event with the Oregon Symphony playing background!
When asked about her first art experiences, Thea described when she was seven or eight years old, she walked two miles to school everyday. “Not wanting to bring attention to myself, I kept my head down and noticed all of the ‘bits’
of stuff—neat, cool, sparkly glass, and other stuff—all the variety left in the gutter as I was walking by. One day, my eyes came upon this most beautiful piece of blue/teal chalk I had ever seen, and right beside me was this gorgeous red brick wall. The chalk had a soft, waxy feel to it and felt so good in my hand. I began coloring and coloring and coloring on the wall until there was nothing left of the piece of chalk. I stepped back to admire my work, my design and I absolutely LOVED it. It was the most beautiful design EVER.......and then I turned around to find a policeman who proceeded to lecture me about coloring on the businesswoman’s wall and of course, I had to go in and apologize and she told me to clean it off immediately. And of course I did with just my hands. But, my parents never did find out about it!”
Thinking back on that childhood experience, Thea wishes there had been someone who might have said, “please, work on your art project over here or let’s get you involved in this art class.” It was a different time and place though. So imagine how excited after twenty years to find an art home in her dreamland: Tillamook County! Thea was asked to participate in Art Accelerated’s first Pop Up art show, sold a painting and was so thrilled wanted to find out more about what the group was all about. “Art Accelerated welcomed me and accepted the art in me! I’d been all over to many different places, but never really connected with other artists like I have here. They listen to me as an artist. They push me.”
Thea’s mural project involving teaching young art students was “transformative” for herself as well as her students. “We had to work together as a team and as a community by defining the task and then creating how to complete it together along with figuring out financing and all of the details that go into creating a piece of art for public display.”
Thea continues to work everyday on her art—usually at night and every Sunday. Currently, she’s working on “Fractal Science...kind of like chaos theory. The idea is that you paint into the base product and then begin manipulating the paint with as few brush strokes as possible so there aren’t any delineated lines.”
Come and see Thea’s current work at the Art Accelerated Gallery in downtown Tillamook, 1906 Third Street, the Tillamook Forest Center, 45500 Wilson River Hwy, and special one person show Garibaldi Boathouse, July 20 - August 25. Opening Reception: July 20th, 12 - 4pm, music & refreshments.
By: Cindy Gardner