Rena Warren – artist, educator, artisan, extraordinaire!

Imagine doing exactly what you love and sharing that with others. Now throw in some world travel, some philanthropic action, community involvement and raising a daughter. It’s all possible! Just ask local artist Rena Warren!

I recently had a chance to talk with Rena Warren, a Kelowna based artist, about her work, her inspirations, and her dedication to the arts.

Anyone who knows Rena is aware of her various roles as an art educator, an art practitioner, and her participation in many local artisan markets. What I find intriguing and inspiring is that, in addition to all this, she is also a single parent, she is involved with non-profit organization, both locally and in India, and she is a ceaseless marketer, publicist, and art advocate.

Not only does she work with the members andof Cool Arts, a non-profit society for adults with developmental disabilities, she promotes the group through a blog, a website and helps to market their art for sales and shows.

While this use of social media is also a large part of how Rena promotes her own art and the classes she teaches, her success and recognition has since led to many of her courses filling up as a result of the most complimentary means possible: word of mouth.

Much of our conversation occurred while she painted but she put the painting aside to tend to the melting beeswax being prepared for her next round of tapers and to show me some of the beautiful block prints she has created. We discussed her working methods and her plans for future prints.

Rena has spent time in India on several occasions and her love of this part of the world is evident in much of her work, especially the block prints. One of her goals is to contribute to an organization called Muskaan that provides educational opportunities to children in rural India. If the right circumstances were to prevail, Rena would like her next visit to India to include working with Muskaan to teach block printing to the children. Funds could be raised for the NGO through the publication of an illustrated book based on this experience.

As part of the interview process, I besieged Rena with a myriad of questions. She very generously took the time to answer all of them. Here is a selection of our interview:

JG: How would you describe your life as a working artist?

RW: I know what its like to work in an environment that suffocates your creativity….been down that road before. Now that I have positioned myself back into the art community, my life, my work, my play is all art. The two are synonymous. The ability to create and inspire others to do so is such a rewarding and nourishing process.

JG: How do you work? Your process?

RW: I have three jobs working as an art educator and have my own creative practice as well. The two feed each other. Sometimes while planning a class or being engaged in instruction, I get inspiration or ideas for my own practice. Sometimes while creating at home, I will arrive at an idea or breakthrough that feeds back into my teachings. As for process…..I like to play with everything; paint, ink,  photography, wax, sound, food…. whatever…everything can be made beautiful. If can create an object of beauty or a beautiful setting, then I am in my element.

JG: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

RW: Byron Johnston once said to me in my fourth year studio course, that “Too often we think too much with our heads, and not enough with our skin.”  It has become one of my mantras.

JG: What methods do you use to organize your time? How do you balance your different roles? (parenting, marketing, teaching, creating…)

RW: This is a constant learning curve…. My home is also my office and studio so we live and breathe art. My daughter volunteers at Cool Arts with me, she helps out at my after school art classes. I think it’s vital that children be engaged with the creative process. When we cook it becomes art, when we garden it becomes art….we even make our own gifts. Sometimes…….we even remember to do the dishes.

JG: Describe your role in the community

RW: I feel it is vital that we don’t lose sight of the importance of art education. With continued cutbacks in education and arts funding, I feel that the service I provide brings meaning and balance to many people’s lives.

JG: How do you motivate and inspire your students? And yourself as a teacher?

RW: It is most important to acknowledge the gifts that everyone brings to the table. I encourage students to explore various mediums, to trust in the process and not be obsessed with a finished product, or to compare ourselves to others. I have taught all ages from pre-school to senior citizens and have found that the students who are most difficult on themselves, are middle aged adults, often semi-retired professionals. Somewhere in their youths, they came to believe that they were not artistic. I believe that everyone has the capacity for creative expression, and that those abilities can be drawn out of us in an environment where we feel safe to take risks, and acknowledge mistakes as markers of growth rather than failures.


~ Join us in the New Year for Part Two of Joanne Gervais’s conversation with Rena Warren (she’s got so much great stuff going on that we wanted you to know about, that we decided give it all to you). ~


4 Responses to “Rena Warren – artist, educator, artisan, extraordinaire!”
  1. Sue Robinson says:

    I have been lucky enough to attend one of Rena’s latest courses in drawing and it was amazing to have had her as instructor! She is very easy to talk to and amazingly talented. I miss your classes Rena. You are an inspiration…

  2. Noushi says:

    My daughter attended a one-week summer art class that was instructed by Rena…She came back with amazing and unique art pieces. Rena brought out the individuality in her. Hope to attend one of her classes myself!

    • katie says:

      Rena will be teaching some classes at the Kelowna Art Gallery in the new year. Just search the oook events for “Rena” and all the details will pop up.

      Kelowna Art Gallery – Drawing for the Absolute Beginner – Instructor: Rena Warren

      Kelowna Art Gallery – Advancing Skills in Acrylic Painting Instructor: Rena Warren

      • Beverlee Williams says:

        I would be interested in the Advancing Skills in Acrylic Painting class. When is the scheduled and what is the price. Rena’s work is amazing.
        I’m an artist, and have painted with all kinds of mediums for year. I moved to Kelowna 3 years ago. I do have a studio in my home, and I teach art classes Apr. to Nov. My students (5) then leave for winter breaks. This is when I love to take courses to keep my creative juices going and to pass the info on to my students. We had two shows this past year. and did a fund raising at the Cancer Clinic with Christmas items.
        We would very much like to get in more art juried shows and get our work out there and our names. Hoping this site will help us.

        Christmas season greetings, I hope to attend Rene’s class in the New Year.

        regard, Beverlee

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