Meet Alana Tillman, Artist & Owner of ArtXcursion
Sebastopol-based artist and entrepreneur Alana Tillman was born with a condition called Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita (AMC) that left her without the use of her arms and hands. Growing up in a family of creatives, though, she was inspired to become an artist herself, so she learned how to draw and paint by mouth. Ever since, she's considered her identity as an artist to be her calling card.
"I realized at a young age that art was there for me to create conversation and a relationship with people," Tillman says. "It allowed me to become approachable to my peers, who might not have otherwise understood me."
As she grew up, Tillman focused on building her art career by selling her paintings, working in galleries as an assistant curator, accepting art residencies, and drawing on her family's love of entertaining, hosting several solo shows. She found she loved the process of combining art with event coordinating.
In 2018, she channeled this love into founding ArtXcursion, a unique events business that encourages art as a means of social connection. Tillman partners with area wineries and other vendors to host her ArtXcursion "Sip & Paint" events — fun, laid-back opportunities for people to, as Tillman says, "connect with each other in a creative and inclusive way."
For these Sip & Paint events, Tillman and her team will bring in blank canvases, paint and other art materials, and a snack and drinks will be provided. She facilitates each class herself, teaching people "how to mix their colors, how to start their composition, and how to create depth and texture in their piece," she says. Each Sip & Paint event has a theme, and everyone is encouraged to create their own motif for that theme, producing their own unique piece of art.
In her own artwork, Tillman says, "I definitely pull from Sonoma County for my inspiration — the agriculture, the landscapes, the food. I really love to cook, so sometimes I'll go to an area farmers market and see some beautiful cherries or tomatoes, and I like to sit right down and paint them."
ArtXcursion events are generally limited to groups of 15-25. In addition to regular Sip & Paint events with Sonoma County partners like Paradise Ridge Winery and Flying Cloud Farm, ArtXcursion also hosts private events for team building, bachelorette parties, birthdays, and more—any occasion where connection and relaxation are desired.
Tillman says the goal of her events is to nourish participants both artistically and physically."I feel like art is extremely healing," Tillman says with a smile, "and allows you to press that reset button."