21 SECRETS Spotlight :: Alma de la Melena Cox


Every Wednesday at Dirty Footprints Studio Tonia Jenny, the 21 SECRETS Creative Director & Course Manager,  is interviewing one of the talented teachers in our program.  Be sure to sign up for blog notifications below to never miss a spotlight — and CLICK HERE to check out past interviews. 

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Hello, Magic Maker!

Alma de la Melena Cox is this week’s Spotlight Artist. I was first introduced to Alma’s vibrant, layered, textile-inspired art through her book, Collage Fusion (North Light Books, 2009). It’s hard to believe that was a decade ago, but I love that Alma has stayed true to her authentic voice and continues to create unique, vibrant art today. Her style has morphed a bit through the years (as does that of most of us) but it’s always told fascinating stories. I think you’re going to love her 21 SECRETS Paper, Glue, Scissors workshop—Fused: Merging Photos and Mixed-Media Art—because it introduces you to creating collage on your phone! Let’s see what other surprises are revealed about Alma in this interview.

Name a time you “felt the fear and did it anyway” with regards to art making.

I began my creative journey as a quilter. For a festival where I had a booth with my fabric art hangings, I created a wood sandwich board sign and used fabric to write “Alma Art.” It was a hit. I had no experience with fine art (twenty years ago), so I stepped into that world to find a varnish that would not yellow my fabric. The more varnish I put on the wood-and-fabric mirrors I first created, the more I liked what I saw. I called my process “Telamadera Fusion.” In Spanish, “tela” is fabric and “madera” is wood). The super scary part was exhibiting those first pieces in an art gallery. I didn’t consider myself an artist yet and didn’t know if I was doing it the “right way,” even though it was my invention! I felt like all the questions I received were tests. It was nerve racking! But it launched a whole series and later a book, which was awesome!

How are the things you value most in life reflected in what you create?

Daily meditation and journaling are a vital part of my well-being. I live my life in tune with my soul and feel very directed by my inner voice. My artwork reflects that on-going dialogue.

I find meaning in conversations and serendipity in places I’m drawn to visit. I love to travel. The inspiration I receive is always a communication from my soul—sometimes it reflects where I am and other times where I’m being guided next. So I love to combine inspiring images I see in my mind’s eye with photos from my travels.

Or, if Divine Feminine energy is particularly needed in my life, I’ll take my charcoals and sit in on a figure drawing session. I’ll use those sketches to create larger mixed-media paintings.

I love technology too and feel grateful to live in a time where I can explore so many ways to bring the layers of meaning I find in everyday experiences to my artwork.

Name a time when the art you were creating inspired another area of your life.

For a job in a large corporation, I created an interactive pdf with my artwork and writing samples. I was hired to create a newsletter which was great but my art experience with photography, creating my website, creating videos, teaching, etc., brought me amazing opportunities. I created leadership videos, worked closely with executives and traveled for large events (on the private jet!). It was a special time that grew my confidence and abilities. I learned SO MUCH. Ultimately, my soul guided me to follow my heart again, so I left the company to dedicate myself to my artwork and writing.

What is the one thing you hope we remember from your workshop?

The Fused app is a great tool to let go of a plan and just see what comes of play—so I hope you lean into the unknown and trust where it takes you.

Where will you be and what will you be doing five years from now?

Five years—or sooner—from now, I will have published my novel and written my second one—both about how inspiration lives within us and creates our reality in a way that feels like magic. I’ll definitely be following my bliss!

If you’d like to follow along with Alma’s bliss, I have great news; she recently launched an updated website that features her art and musings. She also always has great art to share through her social media accounts.

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About Alma de la Melena Cox

Alma de la Melena CoxI get jealous of things like sunsets, deeply petaled roses and hummingbird shimmer. The Universe makes creation look so easy! I want THE magic wand to create beauty that inspires deeply. AND I want to be surprised and enchanted! Making art and writing books are the closest things I’ve found to wielding magic like the Universe does—and I thank my Soul for that every day. I even quit my corporate job in San Francisco a year ago because listening to my Soul’s guidance is essential …

These days, I follow inspiration like a blissed-out puppy: like writing and finishing a Magical Realism novel, co-authoring a non fiction book with a good friend, taking lots of photos, travel near and far, collecting fabric, creating layers of meaning—on the canvas and as I write and, using technology to captivate me. I live in Portland, Oregon. I’ve been a professional artist for 20 years, I teach at art retreats, I meditate daily, I practice Bikram Yoga and I love life.


Alma teaches Fused: Merging Photos and Mixed-Media Art in 21 SECRETS Paper, Glue, Scissors

My iPhone is quickly becoming my favorite creative tool. I love the instant gratification of creating something beautiful while I wait for a yoga class to begin or while I lay in bed. A handful of apps transforms photos into works of digital art I share immediately on social media or, I turn them into small and large-scaled mixed-media paintings.

The technique I’ll demonstrate uses two phone Apps. The first is, “Fused,” for IOS, and is free in the App Store. The second is “PicsArt,” for Android, and is free from Google Play. PicsArt is also available for IOS in the App Store. You may also download Fused in the Microsoft Store for your Microsoft Computer. I also use the phone’s built-in photo editor. I’ll show you how I create a digital artwork and then I’ll use that digital artwork to create another mixed-media artwork.

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