Life is Beautiful. Then, Messy. Then, Beautiful.

Life is beautiful. Then, messy. Then, beautiful. We cannot be so afraid of the next mess that we don't appreciate the beauty, now. Art is my response to the mess, and to the beauty.

Each of these doors was painted in memory of someone, and the color of each was selected by a loved one who knew them best, a color that reminds them of that person. I painted each vintage door the chosen color, and then with some information about each person, created a thoughtful, hopeful mixed-media painting, with most of the larger metaphorical imagery at eye-level and the painted surreal doors incorporated into the painting. Half way through the painting process, I took photos, created a digital pattern, and ordered the pattern to be printed on wall paper. Next, I continued to paint, when the wallpaper arrived it was attached and integrated into the overall painted design on the door, with some final painting on top of some of the wall paper. Since the pattern was created before the painting was finished, the wallpaper patterns are mysterious hidden images within the painting, resembling the painting, but hidden underneath the final layers of paint.


Surface Design: Hold & Release

Hold & Release Chain design printed large on crepe fabric,
and grandma Ruth's fabric carrots.



Currently, 7 of my paintings, 8 pattern designs on fabric, 1 pattern on wallpaper, 5 mixed-material paintings on vintage doors, and a video, are on display in the 2-person show THRESH. HOLD. at the Great River Arts Main Gallery in Little Falls, Minnesota. I am honored to share this show with friend and amazing photographer Laura Grisamore of Lauralee Photography, and pleased with how our work complements each other! 
Just after installing the the show.
Between Us and Morning Light painting, lower right.
Also, the two fabric designs that were created from that painting.

Sheila's Flames, mixed-materials on vintage door.
Right, Dream Dots pattern on wallpaper.

Just after installing the show.
Painting on bottom left, Between Summer Warmth & Quiet.
Top, Summer Strata pattern on fabric created from the painting.
Bottom right, Laura Grisamore's digital photo fusion.

Artist Statement, Tiffany Besonen

For me, creating metaphor is a process of rediscovering how everything and everyone is connected. My work for THRESH. HOLD. is diverse in materials, but all deeply connected.

Doors in my work began during a time of grieving for our family. As I photographed, drew, and began to paint doors and thresholds, I discovered that the 'space in between' of a threshold isn't inside or out, here or there, but a connection (or division) of the two. Later, I rediscovered a photo that our daughter had taken from behind my husband and me, as we overlooked a lake. All of the paintings on canvas in this exhibit began with this visual format, our silhouettes and the space in between. The watery shape in between us has intrigued me for years; like a threshold, that space connects us, yet reveals our differences. Repeating that visual format in all seven of these paintings, freed me to be more spontaneous with color, line, shape, and motion.

When the ‘space in between’ paintings were done, I photographed details, and digitally created patterns. Eight of these patterns have been printed on fabric and one on wallpaper by spoonflower.com for this exhibit. I have always wanted to design fabrics! There is something soothing about patterns, and something especially uplifting about colorful patterns on soft fabrics. Creating these patterns digitally has been a great lesson for me in giving up control; beauty is often revealed in the most spontaneous and unexpected ways. The short film Thresh. Hold. Release. became an extension of that lesson in spontaneity, with the contemplative and hopeful music of Mark Hartung (1971-2015) completing the film.

My THRESH. HOLD. work culminated with the five mixed-material, free-standing doors. I am giving each one of these doors to a different family, in memory of someone they have lost. Each door began when I asked the family to choose a color that reminded them of their loved one, and from there I began painting on the vintage doors without much of a plan, only positive thoughts and memories. Half way through the painting process, I took photos and made the digital patterns that became the patterned wallpaper on each door. For me, these doors have become celebrations. When we find ourselves on the threshold of loss or change, may we be kind to ourselves; may we accept what we can not control and somehow find freedom, beauty, and hope in that.


Patterns of Curiosity

Dear relentless child, 
Stay curious. Keep questioning, everything. You are not bad; you
just need to find things out for yourself. Dogs will bite. The coffee
will burn. You will make messes, and some adults will frown. Still,
stay curious.

Recent digital patterns made from portions of a painting.


What grows and what kills curiosity? Hint, you.

What kills my curiosity? 
  1. Being busy. Avoiding or not making time and space to think, practice, or play.
  2. Avoiding challenges.
  3. Only skimming and scanning, and not thinking about what I read and see.
  4. Worrying about the results and not enjoying the process.
  5. Not writing down my thoughts, reactions, and questions.
  6. Not sketching ideas.
  7. Not listening to or having time for interesting people.
  8. Keeping thoughts to myself. Or, wasting time with people who do not listen.
  9. Not trying anything new, or not looking at routines and habits in a new way.
  10. Not asking questions. Or, trying to find answers too quickly.
  11. Missing connections, or ignoring them.
  12. Repeatedly ignoring those fascinations that keep me wondering.
  13. Me.

What grows my curiosity? 
  1. Making time to think, and space to practice and play.
  2. Taking on new challenges.
  3. Reading and intensely observing, and then thinking about it.
  4. Wondering 'what if', and not worrying about the results.
  5. Writing down my thoughts, reactions, questions.
  6. Sketching thoughts, reactions, questions.
  7. Listening to inquisitive, curious people.
  8. Sharing ideas with people who really listen.
  9. Trying something new, or something old in a new way.
  10. Asking big and little questions, and then allowing time to ponder them.
  11. Making connections, and then making more.
  12. Repeatedly following those fascinations that keep me wondering.
  13. Me.
Dream Dots, Digital Pattern for surface design
made from Between Fierce Dreams painting.

Original painting, Between Fierce Dreams, 2016
acrylic on canvas, 24" x 30"


In 2017, stay curious, my friends!

2014 BRAVE
2015 COLOR

2016 FREE


"What is creative living? Any life that is driven more strongly by curiosity than by fear." Elizabeth Gilbert

Stay curious, my friends! A fox crossed my path while driving home late on the 31st, a few miles from our home, in the same place where I found a dead fox a year and a half ago. Before that, I had been thinking about the importance of curiosity (and hope, and trust) in life and in the creative process. When the fox crossed my path, I wondered why. Why are there so many fox in that specific area? After the influx of coyote and wolf into our larger area, how do the fox survive in what appears to be a small protected zone? Maybe local farmers aren't protecting the fox, as much as the livestock. Is the food around there what the coyote and wolf do not want?

The metaphor of the fox (Resilient Fox) was important in my work for awhile, and then the wolf appeared (When Wolves Enter, Curious Wolf, for Avery). Now, the fox may be back. A fox crossing your path has many meanings, but what does it mean for me in a new year? With all these questions, my word for 2017 is CURIOUS. We are all passionate and fierce at times, but I think everyday curiosity is what really moves us along.

A year ago I said:
Choosing one word isn't an easy task, yet 
that is what I assign myself to do every 
new year, now. BRAVE in 2014. COLOR in 
2015. This one large word/idea, like a block 
of raw basswood, begins the new year with 
a promise. If I will work at it with both 
wild abandon and careful hewning,
something from within it will be set free. 

I don't know where my curiosity will lead this year, but I am convinced that admitting I do not know is the best way to stay curious and engaged, daily.

"We keep moving forward, opening new 
doors, and doing new things, because 
we're curious and curiosity 
keeps leading us down new paths." 
Walt Disney

Working on some surreal door photos that we
took last summer. Need to place this green 
door in the winter landscape next. 
Upcoming exhibit that goes up at the 
end of April is entitled Threshold.