We had the good fortune of connecting with Wanda Valles and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Wanda, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
Work life balance is tricky. At times I think I would love it if my art business was my full time focus, and other times I think it would take the love for it that I have out of it. I am a full time bartender aside from this and I find it is hard to find a balance between work and art related projects. Over time, as I have put more energy into my art and it has grown in priority, I have had to learn ways to manage my time better. I will look at my bartender schedule a week ahead and plan out my With the Trees work around it – especially when I am preparing for the next show or vending opportunity. I see my art business job as a 24/7 on call type of work, whereas my bartender job is 30ish hours a week and that is it. My art business is always on my mind and I am also learning to give myself a moment where I can let myself relax from it all.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I love to combine wood burning with painting. I work with a lot of wood and am always looking for one of a kind pieces that I can wood burn on. I am most excited about the opportunity to display my art at RiNo Showcase on June 11th because it will be the biggest show I have ever done with many original pieces that I am so proud of.

Also, consistency is a skill I very much still lack but I have found that that is the absolute most important key that got me to where I am today. It is prioritizing my art even for a small moment each day. It is creating anything, even if small, when I am not feeling very creative. It is starting a new piece that I have had visualized in my head for a while but can’t seem to start it. The start is the hardest part. Everything after that does tend to fall into place.

I am pursuing a master’s degree in art therapy and counseling, so I also want to incorporate my art into my career in this form. Creating art has lifted me up from a dark place at times and I want to work with people to help guide them towards their own healing through artistic expression.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I would absolutely find a sh0w at one of our many amazing music venues, Red Rocks, Mishawaka, Dillon Amphitheater, to name some of my favorites. For lunch I would take them to my place of work, Grow + Gather because it is a really cool spot and as the bartender, am bias on all the delicious specialty cocktails that we make. It is an urban farm to table restaurant with a hydroponic farm and a greenhouse all within the building so it would also be fun to take a little tour of where we grow our food. My favorite brewery is Raices Brewery because spanish music is my favorite and they have live spanish music so often.

I would definitely do a lot of hiking as well and Leadville is my favorite town that is still relatively close to Denver. We could spend a couple days there and camp by Turquoise Lake and do some hiking during the day – a 14er if they are up for it or there are options for a smaller hike. There’s also a cool disc golfing course in Leadville that’s really fun! There are so many things to do in Denver it would be hard to narrow it down but those are some of my most memorable places.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I appreciate every single one of my friends that have been supporting me from day one of With the Trees – through every hyper-fixation and each phase of art that I have had until I really found my calling, wood burning and painting. Most of all, my mom has been my number one supporter. She always sends me inspiration, unique findings from Peru (where I am from) during all her visits that I can incorporate into my art. She has brought me beads, gemstones, and more items that are native to Peru that allow me to connect with my culture as I am creating. She likes and shares all of my posts as well as purchases my pieces and I am eternally grateful for that.

Website: www.withthetrees.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/flowanda_/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WithTheTrees

Other: I have a tiktok account where it’s not entirely concentrated on my art but it is mostly! @allthingswanda

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