Austin Cafe Art

Featured Artist: Teresa Tinney-Purcell

Meet featured artist, Teresa Tinney-Purcell!

Her illustrations are on display now through the end of October at our Central location, 3704 Kerbey Lane Austin, TX 78731.

Austin Cafe Art

Teresa is a native Texan who grew up in Midland. She is a licensed professional counselor (LPC) and a registered art therapist (ATR) with her own practice located here in Austin. Before moving to Austin, Teresa obtained her master's degree in art therapy and counseling from Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"Kahlo & Jung" (An homage to two of Teresa's biggest influences.)

Teresa has been drawing since she was a little girl. When asked why she pursued a career as an art therapist she explained, "I think of art as another language. Often times it's easier to express ourselves through art than it is with words. We express different parts of ourselves through art than we do conversationally. Art therapy allows us to access a deeper part of ourselves and to find meaning in symbolism."

One year ago, Teresa set a goal to draw something every single day. She became inspired by the 100HappyDays Challenge, a social media challenge that asked users to submit a picture daily of something that made them happy. "It was a way to for me to hold myself accountable and get back to my art," said Teresa.

Austin Cafe Art

As a busy mom to her then 1-year-old son, Theodore, and 10-year-old daughter, Edith, it was difficult to find time for herself and she wanted to create something on a daily basis as a means of self care. The feedback received from her daily Facebook posts of her illustrations was overwhelmingly positive and people began to inquire about purchasing her work.

Momma Bird’s Mystery Ship is the title of her website. When asked about the meaning behind the name, Teresa laughed, "'Momma Bird' was my Myspace name many years ago." She was assigned this nickname by friends and family, due to her maternal nature. The 'Mystery Ship' part was inspired by the song from 70's band, Blues Image, "Ride Captain Ride". This name represents Teresa's whimsical and curious nature, which is evident in her artwork.

Austin Cafe Art

Displaying her artwork publicly is a way for Teresa to be seen. As an introvert, she often struggles to reveal herself and drawing is a form of expression that allows her to be vulnerable in a way that feels comfortable. Referring to the piece titled "The Contented Introvert", Teresa writes, "Introversion is a recurring theme in my work, specifically the way it lends itself to the creation of private inner worlds." A more obvious recurring theme in her work is the imagery of birds. To Teresa, birds represent the part of us that is plugged into something bigger.

Most of her recent work is about interpersonal dynamics in relationships; studies of what others have stirred up in her, and the identities we hold in relationship to other people. One of Teresa's favorite drawings is titled, “Where did you come from?” She writes, "It is about falling in love, the disbelief that can come with finding a person who feels unreal, the other-worldliness that can accompany the process of the early stages of love."

Austin Cafe Art

Teresa's primary medium is ink on paper, but occasionally she will apply watercolor on top of the ink. She finds that the greatest advantage to this medium is its portability, enabling her to draw whenever she is feeling inspired, no matter where she may be.

You can see more of Teresa's artwork on her website and Facebook page. All of her works at Kerbey Lane Cafe are for sale. On October 16, Teresa will be displaying her artwork along with other local artists during the AcoustiCoven Halloween pARTy at the Romani Gallery. Questions for Teresa? Email her at