Tina Simmons started painting in 6th grade, when her father started building a house. He left one wall of Tina’s bedroom unfinished, so she could paint to her heart’s content. That was the beginning of her artistic expression. When Tina’s husband, Aaron Simmons, (Building Superintendent for EVO LOU // BUILT. Construction), heard that EVO LOU wanted a mural for the Childcare Room, he quickly volunteered his wife. We’re glad he did.
AARON AND TINA
Hi, Tina! Thanks for meeting with me. To start: I know I’ve asked you a few times, but how many kids and how many pets do you guys have?
We have four boys; Micah is 10, Evan is eight, Joel is turning six on Sunday, and Nathaniel is three. We have three dogs, two cats, one snake, a few cats, and four turtles…that’s pretty much it.
Haha “that’s it.” I’m so impressed. What are the dogs’ names? Do the turtles have names?
The dogs are Corbin, Shep, Rooster, and Petey. And I’ve had the turtles so long, that I just call them turtles. Is that terrible? Two of them are from the 7th grade.
Sorry…what? You’ve had two of the same turtles since seventh grade?!
Yes, and I’ve had the other two (native box turtles) for 15 years, from when I was a veterinary technician. They both had their shells ripped apart, and we had to epoxy the them back together. They can never be re-released, so, I just put them in with my other two turtles from 7th grade.
This is the best story I’ve heard all day.
(Laughs) I have no idea how old they are, but they’re going strong. They get baths, and I trim their beaks and nails. Sometimes they crawl around outside their tank for a while. I’m just going to give them to the boys when they move out!
FUTURE TURTLE OWNERS
Turtle heirlooms for the win! Now that I’ve learned the most interesting fact about of the Simmons family, can you tell me about your experience with painting?
My dad gave me a wall in the house we were building, and just left it as sheetrock; that was the first time I started painting murals. I also had an aunt who used to take me and my cousins to a lake and give us canvases. She started teaching us oil paintings and landscapes; sometimes she would take us inside and teach us still life. I took art in high school, and a few classes in college, but no real formal instruction.
You artist people are amazing. I understand you have murals in the boys’ bedrooms?
Yes. I grew up in Willow Park, so I painted Pike’s Peak on one wall of the kid’s rooms, and it feels like home. I painted the Matterhorn on another wall. When the kids are older, they can paint over them if they want, if they’ve grown out of it.
Do you think you’ll give them a wall?
Actually, yes. Since they heard me tell Clint about how I started painting, they’ve asked! I’ve decided which wall I’m going to give to them. Why not? It’s a kids’ room. Have at it. I think two of them (the boys) will especially love it.
That’s exciting to let them explore that skill. Now, onto the EVO LOU project. How was it presented to you?
After Aaron volunteered me, I drew a sketch and presented it to Clint and Hilary. From there, it evolved. I knew I wanted to make the mural interactive for kids by painting hidden objects. Clint really liked that idea and suggested climbing gear.
CAN YOU FIND THE ATC?
How many hidden climbing objects are there?
(Counting in her head.) Six total. I would have put more, but you know, an art piece is kind of one of those things that you just have to be done with. At some point, you have to call it.
Apparently, my great-grandma used to ruin paintings by continuously adding things, so, good work! What else did you keep in mind when painting this mural?
Haha, thank you! I drew off the interests of the people coming in the building; knowing it’s probably people who love to camp and be outdoors. At the same time, I wanted to make it fun; so I added the mischievous bear and the hidden objects and the bright colors. A lot of the colors are actually directly from the EVO color palate.
I SPY A QUICK DRAW
The whole room has a great vibe. Every time I talk to a parent, they say their kids never want to leave. You nailed the nature theme. You and Aaron are active outdoor enthusiasts, correct? Both climbers?
Yes; we’ve been together 14 years, and when we first started dating, I was a snowboarder/mountain biker and he was a climber. The deal was, I would learn to rock climb, if he learned mountain biking and snowboarding. It worked out!
Do you think you will encourage your kids to climb?
Oh yeah, Aaron already is! Aaron cares about this gym. It feels like we’re invested; it’s not just some place we come. We came in with the boys when this place was just slab and steel. It’s been amazing to watch it come together.
SIMMONS BOYS HARD AT WORK - EARLY STAGES OF EVO LOU
Well, EVO LOU is super grateful to have you two (and the rest of the army.)