The Midnight Alchemist; Teresa Navajo

Teresa Navajo

It’s so hard to say what motivates me to create. I grew up around art and making art, so it’s just a very natural thing to me. It’s like breathing really. I will say that when life gets hectic and I don’t make time to allow myself to be creative I do notice that I am not as happy. Maybe it’s just my chemistry to create?

I am proudly self taught. I have dabbled in very casual art classes, the ones that are offered by the City of Tampa or I will enroll in an e-course once and while, but overall, I have truly learned by just doing. I think I have learned the most by doing and “failing”, honestly. Coming up with an idea and then attempting to create it only to not love it’s outcome, I feel like that has taught me the most and it’s definitely helped me grow and better my skills.

Currently, I am working with insects a lot. It’s a fairly new muse and I’m having a lot of fun painting these moths and butterflies, but also I really enjoy learning about them, too, on a more academic level. I got into these after a long period of working very expressive and abstractly and I kind of felt lost in that. I was accepted into Gasparillia Festival of the Arts in 2016 as an abstract artist and it kind of became my identity. For the past six months or so I have felt like I just wasn’t connecting with some of my work and the idea of giving myself a rebirth creatively kept coming back to me. The idea to paint a moth hatched from that feeling.

Cymothe Beckeri_framed mu

Typically, I would tell people that I am an intuitive painter, but now that I have given my abstract work a little bit of a break, I think a better way of describing my style is that I am a restorative painter. I am really taking in my muse of Lepidoptera and noticing that a lot of what goes on with these moths and other insects is also what’s going on with me right now. I am changing and turning into a new version of myself; a more intentional and awakened version. With this being my first showing of these paintings its like this show is my Chrysalis. It’s new and exciting, but also a very vulnerable feeling since I am shifting my usual style so much.

I am so inspired by unknown famous artists like Flora Bowley, Laura Horn, and Alisa Burke. Locally, I love the work of my new friend Shay Michelle and I am always inspired by my tribe of four amazing artists: Kara Vorhees Reynolds, Hoolie Rowe, M’ria Swire, and Mark Williams who I literally chat with daily. We help each other work through ideas, roadblocks and so much more. The four of them really keep me inspired and motivated to be my best self.

Galleries and other artistic locations that give me good feels and serve as a source of inspiration are the Tampa Museum of Art, where I work on a contract basis as an art teacher. I always leave there feeling motivated to make something new. I also really love the work that Michelle Sawyer does with Merge Culture, she embodies that powerful female aura that gives me the motivation to achieve my creative goals. I also cannot forget ART Pool Gallery! I feel like they are an extension of my family. Marina Williams, the owner, hosts a monthly artisan market and I have the pleasure of participating each month. We set up a little market and all connect and have the opportunity to sell artwork. It’s beautiful. ART Pool hosts me and others the second weekend of every month in St. Petersburg, off of Central Ave.

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I am very, VERY lucky that our little house has an extra room that we were able to turn into my art studio. I had once rented a space but the cost began to outweigh the benefits (and my sales) so it just didn’t make sense to continue to do that. Now, I have a really nice little room with great sunlight and get to spend a lot of time there creating art. Having my own space that is so easily accessible has really made it much easier to draw inspiration from my own ideas and experiences. I have a wall above my desk where I have personal photos, and collected artwork from other local artists, my best of the bay award from last year and also print outs of different bugs to give me some inspiration on the daily. It’s my analog pinterest wall, if you will, but it really works wonders.

While I truly love my little art room, and yes, I am absolutely a homebody, something I really want to do this year and next is attend an artists retreat. I’d love to dive into one of those immersive journeys through creativity. A few of my favorite artists host them so it’s something I want to explore. I think travelling to see new places and make art elsewhere would be a beautiful experience that I’d be able to draw from often.

This exhibit is very special to me. It’s my first showing of my newer pieces that are more focused on insects and botanicals. It truly is my Chrysalis. A blend of some of my more organic abstract works and the introduction of my newest muse. It’s scary but its also exhilarating because its proof to me that I am growing as a creative and that two styles that felt conflicting to me at first could coexist in harmony. I had created this idea in my head that I could never paint anything other than expressive abstract work because that what people identified as “me” and now to see some softness and the introduction of something new shows me that I can evolve and emerge with new wings to be any type of artist I want to be.

My favorite pieces in this show is tied between my first moth painting, Sunset Moth, and one of my newest moths, Cymothe Beckeri. The Sunset Moth opened the door and was so well received that it encouraged me to continue. Cymothe Beckeri is just inspiring to me because I have only jumped into this style and I see so much improvement and stylization. I see my confidence growing in the brush strokes and it warms my heart to reconnect with that feeling again through art.


Outside of painting and time spent in my studio, I love to also teach art. I work at the Tampa Museum of Art as a contract teacher and I get to make art with young children and teens through two programs, Art Spot and Teen Open Studio. I also work on a contract basis at a K-8 school in Clearwater as a substitute teacher a few times a month. Otherwise, my pleasures are pretty simple. My partner, Andrew, and I like to go to the movies to see the newest Marvel releases and we often fall victim to binging Netflix. We also play Dungeons and Dragons weekly with a group of amazing adventurers.

I am very lucky to have an amazing support system. I feel like its essential when you are a creative person to have that in your life. My partner, Andrew makes it all possibly. He works really hard to provide a life for us that allows me to chase this dream. If I didn’t have him in my corner constantly cheering me on I know that I would have given up on myself a long time ago! I also have a lovely community in my core group of friends. Kara Voorhees Reynolds, Hoolie Rowe, Mria Swire and Mark Williams literally make the sun rise and set as far as I am concerned. Having them in my life makes the good times great and the bad times not even matter.


Teresa Navajo is the featured artist at the Portico Cafe Gallery from April through June with open mic nights and gallery receptions from 6-9pm on Fourth Fridays.

Follow Teresa: web:   |   insta: @themidnightalchemist

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