Tegg Art Studio in downtown Brenham is built on artist Alicia Tegg’s passion for horses, country living and oil painting.
“I came out of the womb horse crazy, but, despite all my begging, my parents couldn’t afford to buy me one,” said Tegg, who was reared in Houston. “So what do you do when you love horses, but can have any? You draw them.”
And for years, she drew horses—and horses alone.
“I didn’t even put trees in the pictures,” Tegg said laughing.
Her perspective changed in junior high when her art teacher noticed her talent and encouraged her to expand her artistic horizons.
“He saw something in me,” Tegg said.
At home, Tegg’s mother Rhonda Leigh encouraged her artistic inclinations by example. Leigh, a mother of six, carved time out to indulge her passion for oil painting. The smell of linseed oil lured Tegg upstairs where she watched Leigh work in an unused bedroom-turned-studio.
“My mom would wear my dad’s old shirt and paint barefoot while her transistor radio played,” Tegg recalled.
“She never knew I was there because she was transported to her own world.”
Although Tegg was captivated by the artistic romance inherent in the moment, she didn’t immediately pick up a paintbrush. Instead she worked in pastels and prismacolor pencils.
“You need a designated space to paint,” Tegg said. “If you don’t have a studio space, it’s a pain to get everything out and then put it all back up every time you paint.”
Time passed. She graduated and entered the workforce, eventually becoming a real estate agent specializing in equestrian properties. When she wasn’t on the clock, Tegg was in the saddle competing in polocrosse, an equestrian version of lacrosse. In fact, she met her husband Kevin through the sport. She continued to draw horses—as commissions for their owners.
“I knew horses and horse people, so it all just came together and made sense,” Tegg said.
Country Roads Took Her Home
Horses, more specifically space for horses, brought the Teggs to Washington County.
“We were horse people in the middle of Houston, which doesn’t work so well,” Tegg said.
When confronted with the choice of moving south to Alvin or north to Brenham, Tegg followed the North Star. She’d been smitten by Washington County’s small town charm and rolling terrain since her childhood when her family would stop en route to Bastrop State Park, where they regularly camped among the Lost Pines.
“I was the only one of my siblings who longed for life in the country,” Tegg said.
In 2004, she and Kevin settled in between Burton and Brenham on acreage large enough to support their 15
horses and one “seeing eye” donkey. They held an old-fashioned barn raising.
On a 110 degree F day, their family and friends hoisted timber frames by hand.
“We were those people,” Tegg said.
At their new home, Tegg had enough room for horses and painting. She began painting with oils.
photos by Natalie Lacy Lange, Natalie Lacy Lange Photography
“Once I picked up oils, I never touched pastels or pencils again,” Tegg said. “There’s a luminosity to oils that I love.”
Tegg took one workshop and then dedicated herself to mastering oil painting. Her secret to learning a new medium?
“Desire—and simply spending time in the saddle,” she said. “I burned through a lot of canvases while I was learning what to take off and what to leave.”
In the beginning, Tegg painted in the living room. Then she moved to the barn. Despite its poor light, periodic visits from rodents, and dirt dauber nests on the back of her canvases, she persevered in the barn until a snake slithered between her feet.
“The snake was the last straw,” Tegg said. “I told Kevin I was going to find a place in town.”
She found her first space in the Faske Building in downtown Brenham. It sold. Rent rose. She moved back to the barn, fussing to everyone she knew about being back in the dark, dirty “dungeon.”
A friend offered to let her use a space in her building in downtown Brenham at 119 W. Alamo Street as an interim measure. The building was on the market, so the owner wasn’t renting in anticipation of the sale.
“I loved the light and the location,” Tegg said.
The building sold. Tegg moved back to the barn as the closing date approached. After painting in the light-filled, spacious old building, going back to the dungeon was tough.
Every time she ran errands in Brenham, Tegg scanned the streets for real estate signs. Her persistence paid off when she spotted the “For Lease” sign in the window at 119 W. Alamo Street, her beloved studio space.
She moved back in and began painting in earnest—four hours a day for five or six days a week. Often she
painted with the doors open to cross-ventilate the room.
“I thought it only would be my studio, but then people started wandering in—and buying things,” Tegg said.
She planned to try the studio and a full-time art career for six months. It has been two years now.
“Had I known what it would grow into, I might have been intimidated,” Tegg said. “I embraced art and stumbled into shop keeping.”
While Tegg uses social media to raise awareness of her work, most of her sales result from people coming into the studio. The soaring ceilings, towering walls and abundant natural light provide an ideal setting to showcase art, especially art inspired by the area’s natural beauty.
“Washington County is rich with subject matter for a landscape painter,” Tegg said. “I have a hard time leaving here because I see a familiar, beautiful scene from a different perspective, under different light or even through a different mood—and I am inspired again and again.”
People—residents and visitors alike—connect to the original work displayed in throughout the studio. Some people buy a piece that speaks to them, while others choose to commission a painting of their special place in her signature style. Tegg estimates 60 percent of her sales are original paintings while the remainder are commissions.
“If I paint it, I’m passionate about it,” Tegg said. “The beauty of selling your own art is the interaction with people and the direct connection over a shared vision.”
Photos by Natalie Lacy Lange, Natalie Lacy Lange Photography