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Meet Tammy Kushnir

Tammy Kushnir’s mother turned her art into gifts. “My mom was into art. She used to create T-shirts for us and decorate cakes for us when I was little. Things like that,” she remembers.
And now Kushnir herself, who lives with her husband and two sons near Philadelphia, creates art as gifts, too. “Even today I make paintings for people as gifts for different things,” she says. “My husband and one son and I recently became blackbelts, and as a thank-you to our senseis, I made paintings for them. Creating art for gifts kind of started with my mom.”

Kushnir has been making art since she was little and was an art history major in college. It was when she and her husband started a family that she turned her focus to becoming a working artist. “I got married when I was twenty-two,” she says, “and we wanted one of us to stay home with the kids. I said ‘I’d love to do it and get a chance to do art.’ I started in mixed media and used to write a lot and get money that way. So, I never really used the art-history degree technically, but it still serves as an inspiration in my work.”

Another major inspiration in her work was a trip to Alaska the family took about two years ago. In fact, this artist now known for her acrylic paintings didn’t actually take up the medium until after that trip. “I used to do everything in black and white, with graphite. But after Alaska I was kind of inspired. I have a nice camera and got nice photos for inspiration. I never thought I would ever paint or be able to paint, and I ended up loving it. Now I want to keep expanding. I’m trying to broaden into different things and branch out more.”

Part of her branching out will involve trying her hand at abstracts in addition to animals and nature.

One thing that won’t change for Tammy Kushnir is the link between art and gifts, even when the recipients are people she will never meet. “To think something that I’ve created could make someone I’ve never met happy, or make their day, or inspire their children to want to be an artist like I was, that’s a good feeling,” she says.

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