Monday, December 14, 2015

Travel: Dinosaur World (Part 1)

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World! You see this on the side of the highway and OF COURSE you have to go!

Cave City is full of delightful, fun spectacles in the middle of nowhere America. We already checked out the Wigwam Village and a cave, so after the sun came out the next morning, Maz and I explored this great roadside attraction.

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World is simple: over 150 replicas of various extinct reptiles spread out over 20 acres of land.

Simple...but SO MUCH FUN! After paying an admission fee, you're set loose to follow a trail around the grounds. There's a dinosaur or two every few feet with a small placard displaying information about the species. 

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

The temperature was hovering just above freezing and we were on a strict travel schedule so we couldn't spend too much time standing still. It took us about an hour to cover the entire space, but I could see spending a few more hours there if you had smaller kids. There's a playground that could keep little ones entertained for awhile.

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY
We had to pose with the large Photosaurus! We got a couple of honks from the highway, too.

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

Dinosaur World, Cave City, KY

As long as you don't take your dinosaurs too seriously, you and your family could have a nice afternoon at Dinosaur World! 

Monday, December 07, 2015

Travel: Wigwam Village #2

By now you should be familiar with my fondness for weird roadside attractions. While planning my annual roadtrip to Michigan to visit family, I knew that I wanted to stop mid-way for a rest (my younger days of driving 14 hours straight through are officially over!). So I fiddled around on Roadside America and discovered that the Wigwam Village #2 wasn't too far from my route. 

I have to add that I'd seen where Kaylah of The Dainty Squid has stayed at all three Wigwam Villages. I'm pretty sure this is how I discovered the awesomeness of these unique attractions.

I mean, how could you pass up staying in one of these?!?

#2 Wigwam Village (4)
From their website: Wigwam Village Inn #2 is the most unique motel in all of Kentucky. It celebrated 60 years of colorful history in 1997, and staying there will be an experience you will never forget.

#2 Wigwam Village (3)
We spent the previous day driving through nasty rain so I was glad to see a bright sun and clear skies the next morning. 

#2 Wigwam Village (2)
From Wikipedia: The diameter at the base of each tipi is 14 feet (4.3 m), and they are 32 feet (9.8 m) in height. Behind the main room of each unit is a small bathroom with sink, toilet, and shower. In 2008, the rooms contain the original restored hickory furniture and a window-mounted air conditioner. There are no telephones to maintain the original atmosphere of the motel, but the rooms do have cable TV and internet access.

Wigwam Village #2 is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Thank goodness for the wi-fi! I could not figure out how to get the cable tv working, so we at least had the internet to keep us entertained. The room itself was very drafty, especially around the door and window AC unit. It was an extremely windy night due to a cold front barreling through. There was a small space heater in the wigwam that kept us at a comfortable temperature. That thing was a champ!

#2 Wigwam Village (1)
Staying in Cave City was a treat! We visited Onyx Cave for a short, inexpensive tour. Our tour guide was obviously excited about the cave and science in general, which makes an already interesting experience ten times better. Dinner at El Mazatlan was HUGE and very satisfying after a solid 7 hours driving. 

After telling my husband of all the fun things we did (and all the fun things still left to do!) we decided that we should definitely try to go back to Cave City, Kentucky.

& I have to tell you about our visit to Dino World!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Travel: Blue Ridge Parkway with a Side of Asheville

Visiting Asheville, North Carolina has been on my to-do list for a very long time. Looking back at some email correspondence between me and a friend, it looks as though I've been thinking about going to Asheville for a solid five years

Amber and I finally made plans to make the drive over the weekend. "Fawne does not go anywhere in a straight line!" says Amber. So of course, I decided to do some adventuring along the way and looked for some interesting sights. 

There are plenty of neat things to see in North Georgia/North Carolina area but we only had a small window of time for exploring. I saw that the Blue Ridge Parkway lead directly to Asheville and determined that it would be our best bet.

After entering the Parkway we saw a sign that said Asheville - 53 miles. We can make that drive in NO TIME! ...or so we thought.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
We stopped at the first few overlooks, super excited to see the beautiful scenery.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
Five miles into the Blue Ridge Parkway. Looking at Steestachee Bald. 

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
And then we decided that if we continued to stop at every lookout point, we'd never make it to Asheville.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
We continued to climb in elevation. Ears popping galore!

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
But we made it to the top! The highest point in all the Parkway!

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
It's about 12 miles into the Parkway, if you enter from Hwy 74. We were not prepared for how cold it was going to be! My phone said it was 43 degrees but with the wind it felt much colder.

Blue Ridge Parkway - Highlights
Hello! The usual touristy photo op.

Then we had to make the decision to not stop at any more overlooks for the rest of the ride. If my calculations are correct, then the Blue Ridge Parkway added about two hours of travel time to an otherwise 5 hour drive. Still, with these kinds of views, we consider it time well spent! Well worth it!

As for Asheville...I took a total of ZERO photos. What? We mostly hung out with friends we hadn't seen for a long, long time. Amber and I agreed to return with the intent of doing more tourist-y exploring. 

We did get the chance to try out some AWESOME food! We had tapas at Zambra, drinks at Asheville Yacht Club, then breakfast at Sunny Point Cafe

Wicked Weed and The Black Bird get a shout out because our friends work there. (Adding these two places to our to-do list for next time!)

Asheville, we'll be seeing you again real soon! This time, with a specific to-see list. And more time to explore!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Inktober! - The First Half

October is my most favorite month! It got even better when I found out about Inktober in time to participate (usually I discover cool group projects after they started). What is Inktober?

Check out this link:

Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month.

Sounds easy enough, right? It definitely has been. But of course, life gets in the way and I haven't been able to make a drawing every day... just almost everyday. 

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

I started off with a crystal drawing obsession. And then quickly got tired of them.

Day 5

Day 7

I take that back...there's the crystal drawing popping up again.

Day 8

Then trying to figure out a mermaid drawing for a commission.

Day 10

Day 12

Now it looks like I'm in a under the sea phase. 

As you can see, I haven't been able to draw every day and I'm not sure if I'll be able to make up for those missed days, but I'm drawing more than usual so that's nice. 

So many artists are participating! If you're on Instagram, check out the hashtag #inktober to see a HUGE variety of styles and abilities. It's always fun to see all the creativity being shared and celebrated. 

Here's the next two weeks of drawing!

Monday, September 14, 2015

Commission: Red Tailed Hawk

Being my friend means that if you ask for a piece of art it'll probably take me about six months to complete it. Not because I don't like you, it's because I procrastinate like woah.

I would like to note that a buddy asked me to paint a red tailed hawk in January. I finally sent him a sketched out idea sometime in April...maybe even May.

Red Tailed Hawk Progress
The sketch was given the thumbs up and so I got started.

Red Tailed Hawk Progress
Cutting this out took a lot of patience. What a lot of work! 

Red Tailed Hawk Progress
Coming along. I took this photo to show a size comparison to my feet.

Red Tailed Hawk Detail
A close up of the face in progress. The final touches include the black lines and the color in the eyes. At this point he's looking more angry than regal. 

Red Tailed Hawk Progress
The completed piece. It's about 3 feet wide and 2 feet tall. Acrylic painted on 3/4" plywood.

Red Tailed Hawk Detail
Detail of the wingtip.

Red Tailed Hawk Detail
Another detail shot. I'm loving the colors of this piece!

I also love how I was completely trusted with the outcome of this piece. The official commission was: "Red tailed hawk, your style." And that was it. How awesome is that?! I assure you, this is a responsibility that I don't take for granted.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Art Snacks - September 2015

Subscription boxes are all the rage now, aren't they? I mean, a box of cool stuff showing up on your doorstop every month...yeah! Sign me up! But I know I would quickly go broke buying ALL THE BOXES (for example, I'd love to get Teabox, Mistobox, and/or Ipsy. And my pup would love Barkbox!) so I had to be very, very selective on which subscription I'd choose. When I heard about ArtSnacks, I immediately made up my mind that THIS IS IT!

What is ArtSnacks? ArtSnacks is a monthly subscription service for the best art products around, providing artists all over with top-of-the-line art supplies.

Art Snacks Aug 2015 (3)
I signed up almost a day before the monthly cutoff date so I didn't have to wait too long for my box to arrive. Thank goodness! I'm so impatient when it comes to stuff I've ordered online. 

When a small box arrived with an ArtSnacks stamp, I quickly tore into it. Everything was carefully wrapped in tissue paper. There were five products inside:

Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers (Magenta & a White Blender)
& Laffy Taffy!

Art Snacks Aug 2015 (4)
The magenta marker made me think of tulips so I quickly sketched some. At first I was like, hmm, I dunno...a pencil is a pencil, right? But I found myself thinking, woah, this feels pretty good. I'm used to drawing with whatever crappy pencil I have around, so this was definitely a step up in my usual process. Not to mention, the pencil smells really good! 

Art Snacks Aug 2015 (2)
The markers are even on the market yet, so ArtSnacks subscribers are some of the first artists to try them out. Neat! I don't have much experience with markers, so I can't tell you how these compare to others, but I did notice a big difference when I went from regular sketchbook paper to the marker paper that ArtSnacks provided. Look at that nice blending! I might just have to get some marker paper and experiment some more. 

Art Snacks Aug 2015 (1)

In conclusion, this was a neat way to spend twenty bucks. I think I'll keep up the subscription as long as I have the extra funds in my monthly budget. I've read some other reviews about how you can just as easily try stuff out at the art store, but if you're anything like me you'll talk yourself out of any extra purchases while you're there. With ArtSnacks, the decision is already made for you. Just be open to whatever supplies you recieve and have fun with it!

(Disclaimer: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned.)

Monday, August 31, 2015

On Display: Monkey's Uncle, Griffin

Wanna know the secret to get your artwork hung in various places? 


I think I've tossed out the idea of hanging my work at Monkey's Uncle a time or two. The owner was a friend of a friend and so I'm sure I just added him on Facebook and struck up a conversation with him. This was AFTER I ate dinner there and scoped out the wall space, of course. When the time was right, we both agreed on a date to hang my paintings. 

That seems easy, right? It kinda is. But I also cannot tell you how many unanswered emails I've sent to various coffeehouses & restaurants. For every YES, there's about five NOs. Those are pretty good odds, though. 

If the result is hanging your work in a new popular restaurant in a nearby town, then its totally worth it!

I hung everything an hour before the restaurant opened. You can see the chairs are still flipped on the tables. 

Just look at how good these look on the red wall!

I sold two pieces! One of the little suns and Cetus, the whale painting shown above. So so so happy to share my art! 

Monday, July 06, 2015

These Things I Know: How to Make it in a Small Town

Photo by

First things first: "MAKING IT" is totally subjective. Do I think I've made it? Sure, but that kinda varies from week to week. Sometimes the art is flowing and selling and it's all coming up roses, and other days inspiration alludes me and I just can't seem to get my projects done. But I think that's all part of the life as an artist, and if you're fortunate enough to live it, then you learn to roll with the punches.

Thomaston is located in middle Georgia, about an hour away from bigger cites like Atlanta, Macon, and Columbus. There's a little over 9,000 people living in the city, and about 27,000 living in the county. Of course, "small town" is also subjective but after some casual Internet research I've decided for the sake of my story that small towns hold less than 15,000 people.

Currently, I have a storefront studio near the town square. I'm able to pay my own bills with the money brought in from hosting art classes and selling art. Now, full disclosure: I would not have been able to do anything without the support of my husband. He took on the responsibility of general living expenses while I slowly built up my art career, so I'm extremely fortunate to have a supportive partner. I've also recently started working part-time at a restaurant (a story to be shared at a later time). But I think the advice I typed below can be used whether you're married or completely on your own.

Here are five things I know about trying to make it as an artist in a small town: 

Join Everything! Make Friends Everywhere!
Moving to Thomaston after my daughter was born was probably one of the most significant changes in my life. Not only was I a new mother, but I was in a new town where I didn't have a friend to call my own. With social media being in it's infancy (Hello, Friendster!), I had no idea how to make friends that weren't a. co-workers or b. former classmates. I mean, how do grownups make friends anyway?

Thank goodness for the Internet, really. I spent a lot of time searching for art galleries and art stores in the nearby area. Only one thing popped up: The Thomaston Upson Arts Council (TUAC), a local non-profit that promotes the arts in the community. Perfect, right? Right!

I read everything I could about TUAC: their programs, their plays, their gallery space, etc. Of course, the gallery space was what held my interest. I composed a quick email, attached a few photos of my work, and anxiously awaited a response.

Thankfully, TUAC is always looking for more local artists to display so all I had to do was meet with the Visual Arts Chairperson, show off a few paintings, and I had a gallery showing fourteen months after moving to Thomaston. Little did I know, that show would be the first step in a long journey to having my own storefront studio.

Here's a quick run-through of the next few years:
- Participated in Crazy for You as a showgirl (2004)
- Became the Administrative Assistant for TUAC (2005-2013)
- Taught an art class for TUAC's Summer Art Camp (2007-2008)
- Started attending meetings for the West Central Georgia Shutterbugs (a new photography club) and eventually was voted in as Vice-President (2006-2009)
- Started volunteering for SlowExposures, a photography exhibit (2010ish-to present)
- Helped curate a feline photography show at a nearby book store (2011-2012)
- Opened up my first art studio (2012).

Every single one of those opportunites put me in touch with new people who had an interest in the arts and my circle grew and grew.
* * * * * * * * *

Give It Away for Free (Barter & Share!)
We all know the old saying:

And I wholeheartedly agree! But... if we're talking about the me from a few years ago, I would gladly do projects for free just for the credit...BUT (and it's a big but!) only if it was a project I felt good about. I'd make sure that the project, painting, whatever lined up with what I wanted to accomplish within my community. Non-profit art project? Yep! Decor for a program that benefited the youth? Yep! 

I would even work within people's budgets just for the experience. Say, someone wanted a wall painted but they only had X amount of dollars...I'd agree to it, especially if I had nothing else going on and if I had final say in the design. I currently have a freebie project that I do yearly just because it's fun and I can paint whatever I want (as long as it fits the business' theme). If it fits in my schedule, why not? 

Bartering is fun too! I've done projects for anything from boxes of fresh veggies and homemade pies, to hair services. You have to have a strong set of boundries and make sure that you're not being taken advantage of. Make sure that it's an even trade and it's stuff that you can really, really use.  

* * * * * * * * *

Promote, Promote, Promote
It's so easy to just sit here and type DON'T BE AFRAID! If you're anything like me, you're painfully shy and modest. Just talking about yourself makes you ill. I mean, c'mon, I'm introverted as all get-out so it was a HUGE challenge to get out of my comfort zone. It gets easier as I get older, mostly because I believe that in the end, no one really pays that much attention. I've done some majorly embarassing things (just recently: stuttering through a thank you speech in front of hundreds of people), but life goes on, y'know?

Stack of Promo Postcards
Promo postcards from 2007
I used to hand out business cards that just had my name, email, and website. Facebook wasn't a thing so people had to actually go to my website to check out my artwork. But now there's Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, you name it...people have it on their phones. Amazing right? Have a card with a photo of your artwork on it and list ALL of the social media links you have. Share all of your stuff on Facebook! Post daily on Instagram! Social media can be amazing for introverts like me. I have a hard time really "bragging" about stuff in everyday conversation, but if you look on my FB it'll show what I've been up to every day. People really enjoy looking at what artists are up to. Posting progress pictures piques interest and gives your audience a chance to ask questions.

It's also helpful to promote your artist friends stuff too. Lift each other up into the spotlight. Share and share alike, right?

* * * * * * * * *
From a trip to Baltimore in December 2011.

Get Out of There
Yes, get out of town everyonce in awhile. Personally, I get antsy if I haven't traveled outside of the county lines in a few weeks. Thankfully, I live inbetween several cities that offers different artistic experiences. I can almost always count on Atlanta (about an hour's drive) to have a really neat artsy event. Getting out of town helps shake it up a bit, check out what's going on in other communities, and you might even get inspired to bring it back to your town.

Seriously, some of my best ideas are ones I've "borrowed" from other events. Why did I make a street puppet? Because I was at an out of town festival and saw a friend with her puppet. Why did I want to even open up my own studio? Because I saw some other artists spaces while I was on vacation and wanted a space of my own. Even some of my fundraiser ideas came from events I attended from out of town.

Even if you can't get out of town due to finances, car troubles, what-have-you, try to "escape" through Netflix or any other streaming service. If I need a little inspiration I watch Beauty is Embarassing, Beautiful Losers, or Exit Through the Gift Shop. The list could go on, actually, but these are the first three that popped up in my head.

It doesn't even have to be an artistic adventure. Sometimes just getting outside your small town and outside your own head does wonders for the artistic soul!

* * * * * * * * *

The artist and her gallery wall, Spring 2014.
Keep at It!
Oh man, yes, keep at it! My journey is at least 12 years long so far. It takes a long, long time to become "an artist".  There are days where I just pout and wish I lived somewhere else (I call them my "Boo-Hoo Days") but someone pointed out that I would just have to start over in that town too. And it would be even harder if there's an already well organized and established art community. That's a whole different set of challenges to take on.

I'll close this out with a quote from Ira Glass:
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.
* * * * * * * * *

If you're a small town artist, do you have any advice for other artists trying to make it? 
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...