Showing posts with label art day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art day. Show all posts

Monday, July 17, 2017

Art Teacher Travels: Lowe Mill, Huntsville, Alabama

Not too long ago, a sweet art teacher friend asked me if I'd ever been to Lowe Mill Arts and Entertainment in Huntsville, Alabama. Not only had I never been, but I'd never even heard of it! When I think of Huntsville, which is a couple hours south of the Nashville area where I live, I think of the NASA's Space Flight Center. Art isn't usually the first thing that comes to mind. So I was super surprised one Saturday morning when Mitch and I pulled up to this giant old factory turn arts facility. 
Every Saturday, Lowe Mill hosts a small farmers market on the front lawn. There were just a handful of booths when we walked by and I didn't stop to check them out...I was too intrigued by the giant brick building which had a steady stream of folks going in and out. We stepped inside. 
The Mill has three floors. The first was filled with open concept shops like this weaving studio. There was a comic art shop, a quilting shop with some super fun fabrics, one filled with instruments crafted from cigar boxes, you name it. Each storefront was super welcoming with mini-make and takes happening. In this weaving shop, I was introduced to the Weave-It loom, a miniature loom that was created back in the 50's. I had inherited two of these looms from my I was thrilled to have an expert show me how to use it. 
 Also located on the first floor were a couple of art exhibits. I was loving these paintings by Bethanne Hill as apart of her show titled Home Ground. 
Each artist's studio was so unique and each artist so stinkin' friendly! I was encouraged to snap photos, ask questions and try my hand at creating. 
 Loved this artist's collection of bottles. 
From the first floor, we took the stairs (deciding to forgo the slightly frightening vintage elevator) which opened up to a vendor's craft market. Here, the artists were selling their inexpensive wares sidewalk style, right in front of their shops. There were artists of all ages selling such a variety of stuff that I was always intrigued. Not to mention, this place was hopping! I loved that so many folks were out celebrating the arts. 
Also, that monster door thing is giving me life. 
 As is this bright orange deer. 
 I have to say, the shop that excited me the most on the second floor was the one with the puppets. This place was like a puppet museum! I was fascinated with the variety of vintage and handmade puppets. 
 After traveling in Italy this summer, I'm really excited about the idea of puppets and having my students learn about the history of Pinocchio. But now I realize I'll have a lot of puppet ideas to share with them. The puppet possibilities are endless!
The owner of this shop was every bit of awesome and informative as her booth. I chatted with her at length. I loved that about the Lowe many opportunities to meet and hang out with working artists. 
 So I took exactly one million trillion photos in her booth. Sorry not sorry. 
 Can you blame me?!
 On the third floor, there were much bigger studio spaces. I learned that some of these spaces were open for rent. I saw a clay class happening in one rented space. I need to get on their email list to stay up on the classes offered. 
 There were also places where folks could drop in and create. Lots of classes being offered like ones for painting, stained glass, you name it. 
The third floor was also home to a fantastic popsicle place and a coffee house. 
 This view of the third floor should give you a better idea of the space. Again, very open air and open concept. What I love about that is that it seemed to provide a chance for artists to have a community...and not feel isolated as they normally might. 
 The variety of artwork being created was so inspiring. 
 LOVE these pieces!
 Mitch and I did take a break half way through our visit to grab some pizza. Lowe Mill is so big, we needed to step away for a bit and come back to explore some more. 
Here is what I found the most amazing about this place: the amount of folks who were there. Imagine what the halls of a mall look like on most weekends with folks mindlessly walking up and down. Now imagine those same crowds here, at the Lowe Mill...but this time, being intrigued and engaged all while creating and admiring art. It was amazing! I thought: why don't all towns have something like this?
 You know what? Maybe they do. And I've failed to find them. New mission! I know both Nashville and Franklin (where I teach) have thriving art communities. I need to get more involved. Look what I'm missing out on.
 But back to Lowe Mill. After our pizza lunch, we finished exploring this magical place. 
If you find yourself near Huntsville, Alabama, I recommend a trip to Lowe Mill. It's a place I'd definitely like to visit again. 
What magical maker spaces are near where you live? I'd love some road trippin' recommendations. 
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Saturday, July 15, 2017

Art Teacherin' 101: Episode 38

Winner of the Growth Mindset Coach Playbook announced at the end of this post! 

Because I'm a world renowned over-sharer, it may come as a surprise that there was a time, not that long ago, when I didn't blog, post videos, share on social media or present...anywhere. I honestly didn't think that what I had to say was important, valid, and/or worthy of being listened to. It wasn't until it was pointed out to me that I should share, that I had ideas, methods and projects that some might find useful, that I finally did. But only after years of folks gently coercing me to do so. If I could travel back in time and have a shoulder-shaking moment with myself, I would say, "just do it! And do it right now!" And I'm here today to deliver that same message to you, if you find yourself on the "should I? or shouldn't I?" fence. Here, let's chat:
Now that I've hopefully got you convinced that you are amazing, you have a voice and you have ideas that need to be shared with the universe, let's chat about some of the finer details:

* Where to Share? That's one that deserves serious thought...and is totally up to you, your time and your favorite means of communication. Are you a visual person? Try an Instagram account for your art teacherin' outlet. Love to chat and interact with other art educators? Twitter might be your jam. Facebook is kind of a combo of both and the most popular...therefore a great way to reach many parents and peers. Make videos for your classes? Consider sharing them on YouTube. Blogging, well, I'm not gonna lie, that one requres a lot of time and effort to reap the reach-of-desired-audience rewards. Be honest with yourself. Do what you know you will enjoy...because that is what you will stick with.

* Give It a Test Run. If you are going to start an Instagram account or dive right into blogging, might I recommend a test run. What I mean by that is this: keep your blog posts or social media accounts private for a pinch. Type up at least four blog posts; line up no fewer than a dozen IG posts and keep them private. Then step away from them for a few days. Did you enjoy typing up those blog posts? Is that something you think you'll enjoy doing on a continual basis? Great! Now you have four posts all lined up and ready to roll out. This will make it so you have some breathing room and don't feel like you have to crank out content and not enjoy the process. As for your social media, like Instagram, look at those images before making your account public. Do your images make sense together? Do they look like they belong with one another? Do they have your "mark", so to speak? It takes time to develop a "look". Be patient with yourself and pursue who you are. This will help you carve out your very own niche. 

* Beware of Being a Lookalike. When I first began blogging, it was way different than the blog you see here. Back in 2007, it was a blog created to sell my Etsy creations (many moons ago, I created ceramic belt buckles), not share my art teacherin' pursuits. I had no idea what I was doing. I had just read on some Etsy forum that if you wanted to sell your wares, you should have a blog. So I had a blog. With no direction, no look, no vibe, no clue. I turned to my favorite blogs for inspiration...which became gentle copying, shall we say. I tried to fit myself and my blog into a box that I thought others would enjoy. Needless to say, it felt unauthentic and I quickly dropped out of the blogging scene. Not until 2012 did the blog you see here come to life. It was at that point, I was ready to be myself and use my true voice. I threw the notion of what other folks might think out the window and just went for it. Staying true to my voice and my interests is what has made me a blogger for the last 5 years. Regardless of what social media path you take, follow your voice. If you feel something is off, if you feel untrue to you, stop. Change it. Be you.

After all, YOU have something to share! So YOU should do it. Present! Post! Do what suits you. Just know that you have something powerful to say. And we want to hear it.

Congratulations to...Kimberly Schultze! Kimberly, please email me at so we can chat about getting The Growth Mindset Coach Playbook in your hands! 
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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Art Teacher Travels: Venice

Well, kids, I've shared with you nearly all of my Italian adventures. I've discussed how my mom and I organized the trip (okay, let's be honest: how I organized the trip...and she came along for the ride), our experiences in both Rome and Florence and all that we learned along the way. If you are planning a trip, I hope you have found at least one useful nugget. Along with your passport, knowledge is the most important thing to pack...needless to say, we had to gain ours along the way. Our last place to do just that: Venezia!
Venice, Day 7: What is it with us and train stations, y'all? I shared with you in my last post about our crazy experience in the Rome train station. Thankfully, we had a little train station knowledge under our belt and this time we were able to navigate the train station without help. I will say, the train station in Florence is much smaller and easier to get around. Just an FYI: have some euro on hand as the restrooms are 1 euro a trip. Pay to pee, so to speak.  
So we were all good until we arrived in Venice. Now, if you have never been to Venice, it truly is all on water. There are no cars. Just canals, bridges, super narrow alleyways and very few street signs. This was hands down the most difficult city to navigate. Thankfully, Venice is super small and dominated by landmarks such as the Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square. You can find big yellow signs on the sides of buildings pointing you to either one or the other. If you no longer see those signs, then you've made it to a different part of town. Good luck. 
I got the big idea that when we got off the train, we'd take a water bus to the general area of our hotel and navigate with our map from there. Big mistake. Little did I know that the streets would be so poorly marked. When I called The Star Splendid Hotel (which was truly ever bit of splendid. The most posh hotel we stayed in during our adventure!), the receptionist said, "Our hotel is located between the Rialto Bridge and San Marco Square." Y'all. Literally everything in Venice is located in that very same spot! From our water bus drop off, we lugged our suitcases up and down the stairs of bridges before finally turning to Siri for advice. She was mildly helpful but it was mom's eagle eye in the end that spotted our local. So, take my word: a water taxi is expensive...but it will get you right to the front door of your desired location.  
As with every hotel, despite arriving in the morning hours, each allowed us to go to our rooms. We were stunned by our extravagant digs and the fact that we had a rooftop to gaze over Venice from. Having had so much fun on our previous tours lead by locals, I looked into tours of Venice. Here's a little known secret: there are a couple of tour groups in Venice that offer FREE tours! All you have to do is sign up online. Mom and I had to book it to our tour meet up as the narrow alleys really confused me and almost caused us to miss our tour. I'm so glad we made it in time! These tour groups are every bit as awesome as the ones you pay for.
Our guide took us on a 2 hour adventure all over Venice. These companies offer free tours because of some red tape issue with the local government. They operate off of tips...which is the least we could offer. Our guide was a wealth of knowledge. The history of Venice is fascinating: being made up of a series of islands, people took refuge there to escape Roman and Barbarian attacks. During the 12th century, Venice began to flourish as a trade center between Asia and Europe. Families began to acquire mass amounts of wealth and loved to show off. For example, this spiral staircase, the Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo, was one such extravagance. You can climb the well as see other expressions of great wealth especially along the canals. Look for the windows with what appears to be a rounded cross configuration at the top. 
Our tour took a wee break at San Marco Square. Mom and I later went to the top of St. Mark's Campanile which was a great way to see Venice. You can catch more of that view here:
We also took a tour of the Basilica San Marco. It is free to get in but, like all churches in Italy, you'll need to cover those bare shoulders and exposed knees. I learned to always carry a lightweight scarf with me. But if you forget, you can easily pick one up from the countless vendors selling souvenir scarves for under 5 euro. We were not allowed to take photos inside the Basilica so trust me when I say: it is a sparkly, golden, mosaic'ed wonderment. We learned that the Venetians were told, when traveling to foreign lands, to pillage as much as they could. Which they did and promptly added to the front facade and inside of the Basilica. This is the reason it is so outrageously golden...and mismatched. 
Here's one of the biggest reasons I would recommend taking a guided tour from a local: they take you off the beaten path. It was there that we discovered The Most Beautiful Book Stop in the World
This book shops floods regularly (as does all of Venice!) with water washing right into the shop from the open door that leads to the canal. The damaged books are used as steps and wall dividers...while the rest are piled into old gondolas to keep from being damaged. Here's a clip:
After our tour, mom and I wandered the streets and visited many of the fun pockets our tour guide told us about. She did tell us that despite the very dark alleys, Venice has little crime and is safe at night. Mom didn't dig the alleys...but really, Venice is so small, getting lost is hard to do. That being said, we did find ourselves in a more residential area, completely turned around. It was then that a woman opened her window from her second story home and began shouting at us in Italian. We had NO CLUE what she was saying and she was VERY aggravated with our ignorance. We decided from her wild hand motions that she wanted us to knock on a door that we happened to be standing next to...but in her cranky state, I had a feeling that it was not gonna be a pleasant convo with whomever was behind that door. We were flattered that she thought we spoke Italian but decided to say, "So sorry! English only!" and get outta there quick. 
Venice, Day 8: Our last full day in Italy. We decided to enjoy our last day by getting ourselves on the water. There are so many ways you can do that: water taxi, water bus or gondola. The gondolas are not cheap at 80 euro for a 30 minute boat ride. We opted for the 20 euro, all day pass on the water bus. It was crowded...but we weren't in a hurry. We took the boat up and down the canal and eventually got a seat at the front of the boat. We traveled up and down the Grand Canal and loved it. We did try to do it again at sunset and found that everyone had the very same idea. Word to the wise: when taking the boat, do it at those odd hours of the day like midmorning or early afternoon. 
We were lucky in that the Venice Biennale 2017 was happening while we were there. We were able to see some of the public art and exhibits...but not as much as I would have liked. Like all good vacations, ours was just not long enough. 
Mom easily enjoyed Venice the best because of the water. For her, Rome was a close second. I love Venice, it is amazing...but Florence comes in first in my book. 
Here's a view of San Marco Square from St. Mark's Campanile. Our favorite thing was to see the cities of Italy from above and at sunset. Look at this crammed together's no wonder I got us lost in those endless alleyways. Something we learned is that San Marco's Square floods throughout the year. Narrow planks are set up that rise above the water for people to walk across. There are a couple of cafes on the square that play live music but the most famous is Caffe Florian which opened in 1720. You can still go there today...just be ready to pay through the nose for even a cup of coffee. But it's worth it! 
Venice was easily the place where I found the most lovely of souvenirs. I fell in love with the Murano glass...there is a shop that is on the Rialto bridge which had glass palates, pencils, brushes, tubes of paint and palette knives. I knew I was going to get in trouble when I spotted that place! I had to get some glass paint brushes and pencils, right?
I mean...
We also spotted a bookstore that carried the work of a ceramic artist who mom and I both fell in love with. I had to pick up a piece of his work because I knew it would remind me of this incredible place:
The artist is Riccardo Biavati and I'm just in love!
On our last night, mom and I ate at a great hole in the wall, rubbing shoulders with locals. The food was incredible and the people were delightful. However, if you go to eat in Italy, just know, you are on their time. Don't rush it, just enjoy it. And know that you will have to ask for the bill about 3 times before you get it. We Americans need to slow our roll! Italians got this right.
Venice, Day 9: Our last day! With a mid-morning flight, we really were just hitting the road, er canal, on this day. Thanks to Costco Travel, there was a water taxi as well as a taxi arranged to take us to the airport. The water taxi ride was my favorite. No better way to travel and say good-bye to this incredible place and wonderful adventure. 
Have you been to Venice? What did you love? I went nearly 20 years ago...and had such romantic memories of the place that I was fearful I would dissolve when I got there. But there were only more realized. I love Venice. 
Ready to go back! Until then...

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