Rachel Alvarez Art

3 places to see in Franklin (just outside of Nashville)

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Morgan Nagle

When most people travel to Nashville, Tennessee, they focus on the city and all that it has to offer. Nashville is such a great city, but there is one particular town just outside of Nashville that holds a special place in my heart. Franklin, Tennessee was voted the #1 small town in the South in 2016, and I have to say that I agree with it!

Although I love all that Nashville has to offer, Franklin offers a quieter get away that is definitely worth stopping to see. I want to share with you my top 3 places in Franklin to visit if you want to stop by for a day.

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The first place I want to mention is Harlinsdale Farm. Although the name indicates it is a farm, it is actually a public park with several buildings, a pond, open fields, and a dog park. This former farm has been called the most significant historic farm associated with the modern Tennessee Walking Horse industry. In 2004, the Harlin family sold the farm to the City of Franklin with the understanding that it would maintain the history of the farm. Franklin has done such a beautiful job doing just that and restoring the farm to its full potential. The park is now used on a regular basis by the public and also used for special events, such as the annual Pilgrimage Festival.

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The next place that that is so unique to Franklin is The Factory at Franklin. The Factory is now a local shopping and event center. The Factory was once an old stove factory that has now been turned into a great shopping, dining, and entertainment area. The original structure and features of the original factory remain in tact, giving it a very industrial feel. Inside there are many shops and restaurants, most of which are locally owned. There is a center in the middle with chairs, tables, and sofas for people to gather and socialize.

One of the most beautiful places in Franklin is right downtown! Downtown Franklin is absolutely gorgeous, and a big reason why people visit the town. It is a great place to just park your car and walk around. There are so many wonderful restaurants, including many locally owned. There are also lots of small shops and boutiques, which makes this the perfect place to spend the afternoon.

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So next time you are in the Nashville area, take a trip just south to Franklin! The town is full of history, beauty, and entertainment with something for everyone.

 

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Hello! My name is Morgan Nagle and I am the owner of Heck Designs and Photography. I am located in Toledo, Ohio and Nashville, Tennessee.   I specialize in couples and weddings for photography.

My passion for design and photography has been around for as long I can remember. I grew up taking photos with my mom, and when she got a DSLR, I tried to learn as much as I possibly could, and my love for it has only grown. For me, graphic design and photography have always gone hand in hand, so for me to go to school for graphic design was no surprise.

I have always loved the south, even though I grew up in south east Michigan, so when I discovered O’More College of Design, I immediately fell in love and knew I would go there. I graduated from O’More College of Design in Franklin, Tennessee in 2016 with a BFA in graphic design.

Five months after graduation I moved to Toledo, Ohio and married my best friend, Matt. We now live in Toledo with our two pups, Brutus and Lenny.

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This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

 

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7 Best Beaches Near San Francisco

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Caitlyn Lunsford

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The San Francisco Bay Area has been my “home” my entire life, whether I actually lived there or not.  My family moved around a lot when I was young but I remember even as a little girl, we would visit my grandparents and I would get so excited once we reached the streets that were lined with palm trees.  They swayed back and forth in the breeze as if they were welcoming me back.

When I was seventeen, I moved out of my parents’ house in Ohio to California with big dreams of going to college for marine biology and I felt that same sense of home that I felt all those years ago, as if nothing had ever changed.  Ultimately, I decided not to pursue marine biology and became a photographer, but I still have a passion for the ocean and I visit the beach as often as possible.

Sometimes the beach was a hangout spot with a group of friends from college.  Sometimes it was a place for my husband and I to explore the world around us. Other times, it was a place for me to relax alone, while I breathed in that salty ocean air.

Today, I am going to describe a few of my favorite beaches in the bay area that stretch from San Francisco to Carmel-by-the-Sea.  All of them are located in close proximity to California’s coastal Highway 1 and will be discussed in order from North to South.

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Ocean Beach

The first beach I’m going to talk about is one that is dear to my heart. Ocean Beach is the first beach that I went to with my husband and it is where we kissed for the first time.  Three miles of sand stretches across the western coast of San Francisco, which is great for those long walks so many people claim to enjoy. It is across the street from Golden Gate Park and only about an hour walk until you can view the Golden Gate Bridge. The sunsets are gorgeous and there are always surfers out trying to catch some waves.  The only downside is, it’s in San Francisco and the weather can change quickly! Don’t forget to wear layers to stay warm in the cold wind! At night, the bonfires in the fire pits light up this beach.

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Rockaway Beach

This is my favorite secret beach, secluded behind restaurants and hotels and would be a great weekend getaway destination!  The beach itself is pretty small, but it features great rocky views and sunsets that never disappoint! There is a small lot where you can park for free and you don’t even have to leave your car to enjoy the beauty that Rockaway Beach has to offer!

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Pacifica State Beach

If you are a fan of fast food, specifically Taco Bell, this is the beach for you!  There is a Taco Bell restaurant right on the beach with a walk up window for you to place your order.  I usually opt for a crunchwrap supreme! This beach tends to be very windy, so it can be cold, but it is also a great place to fly kites.  Unfortunately, parking isn’t free, but I would say the visit is definitely worth the price!

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Wilder Ranch State Park

This state park features a historical dairy farm with live animals and hiking trails along the coast.  The Old Cove Landing Trail is a fairly easy walk that starts near the ranch and loops along the coast back to the parking lot. This is a great place to have a picnic and enjoy the ocean breeze.  There are secluded beaches along the trail, but they are a little bit of a climb down to get to the sand.

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Seabright State Beach

This is a very popular beach, but not nearly as crowded as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk down the street.  You could easily walk over to the amusement park or to the nearby shops and restaurants. The parking is free along the street or you can pay for a spot at the harbor.  There is also a lighthouse at the end of Seabright State Beach and I saw two dolphins playing in the waves near it the last time I was there!

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Seacliff State Beach

A concrete shipwreck at the end of a long pier makes Seacliff State Beach unique.  It was built as a tanker for WWI, but the war ended before they finished construction.  The parking is $10 and if the lower lot is full, you can park in the large overflow lot at the top of the hill with beach access via a long wooden staircase.  Also, if you enjoy camping, they have a lot for RVs and trailers.

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Carmel Beach

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a cute beach town with tons of shops in the downtown area.   Every time I have gone, there have been fancy cars parked along the streets and by fancy; I mean Lamborghini, Porsche, and Ferrari. This is a great beach to relax with a good book or explore the tide pools.  After a long day by the water, I recommend getting a pizza at Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria or taking a drive down the scenic 17-Mile Drive. If you have an extra day in the area, you should definitely check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium just north in Monterey.

Fun fact: Clint Eastwood was the mayor of Carmel-by-the-Sea between the years of 1986 and 1988.

Each of these beaches hold so many of my memories and I hope that you will get a chance to make your own memories at one of them someday!  If you do, I would love to see pictures from your own beach trip! Be sure to follow along with Rachel Alvarez to read posts from some other really fun guest bloggers from all 50 states!

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Caitlyn Lunsford freezes memories like it’s her superpower in Seattle and San Francisco. She enjoys spending time with family and is always craving chocolate, adventure and a trip to the beach! You can follow along with her on her website:  www.caitlynlunsford.com or on facebook, and instagram.

 

 

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

 

Best Off the Beaten Places in Naples, FL.

50 state stickers blog series, Art Scene

written by guest blogger Lauren Connelly

It’s crazy to think that my hometown is one of the world’s most visited places. There are palm trees everywhere and the beach is only minutes away. Now living 700 miles away in Greenville, South Carolina, I feel like I know Naples so much better. As a former local, I am giving you my favorite places to make sure I stop at when I’m home!

Kunjani Coffee

My heart beats a little faster for small businesses. I love that Kunjani is ran by a mom and daughter duo from South Africa. Not only are they making delicious coffee and serving the yummiest pastries, they are also changing the world. One side of their coffee shop holds jewelry and crafts made by artisans all over the world. Some are local to Naples and others are residents of South Africa. It’s definitely a hidden gem that won’t be hiding much longer.

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Koreshan State Park

Koreshan State Park is located in Estero, Florida. (Estero is only 15 minutes north of Naples) If you’re looking for a perfect backdrop of photos, this is the best spot. There are small houses around the property. Although the houses are vacant, it was a small community build by the Koreshans. You’ll see some houses used to be sawmills, bakeries, boat works, and even a printing facility.

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Naples Botanical Garden

If flowers are your love language, this place is for you. With over seven different gardens covering the 170-acres, you’ll find plants perfect for different climates. There is also a children’s garden where you can find a butterfly house. If you want a photo of you holding a butterfly, that’s the place to be.

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Kayaking or Paddle Boarding at Estero River Outfitters

Like I said, Estero is only 15 minutes north of Naples. It’s not as developed as Naples but still tons to do. Estero River Outfitters is the best place to kayak and/or paddle board because the waters are easier to paddle through. (It’s also $14 for 2 hours of kayaking! Steal!) If you’ve never kayaked or paddle boarded before, I would definitely recommend this for all experience levels. Plus, the owners are so kind and extremely helpful.

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Tacos and Tequila on Vanderbilt Beach Road and US 41

Tacos and Tequila opened a little over two years ago and is already the new craze. The atmosphere is casual with doors open and the chips are made to perfection. Right now there are three locations in Naples, but I think this one is the best. Their menu has so much variety that no one is going hungry. If it was up to me, i’d have the California Taco and the Signature Taco for dinner every single night. It’s that good.

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Have you visited Naples before? What’s on you “must do” list?

 

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Hi there! My name is Lauren Connelly and you can find me over at WriterLaurenConnelly.com. I’m a content writer and product photographer living in Greenville, South Carolina. As a content writer, I work specifically with photographers helping them with their blog content and creating other materials to help their business succeed. One fun fact about me is that I moved to Greenville, SC after googling top places to live in South Carolina. Greenville came up as #1, I visited once, convinced my sister to move with me, and two months later we were living in a new city and didn’t know a single soul. It has been the best decision I’ve ever made. If I had to tell myself one thing, it would be don’t let fear hold you back. Everything works out. Keep up with me on Instagram at @Lauren_Connelly

This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

 

Antelope Canyon, Horseshoe Bend, Lake Powell, Rainbow Bridge and Glen Canyon – Page, AZ

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger:  Alyssa Ryan

I’m super excited to share this post with everyone today! If you’ve never been to the northern part of Arizona, keep reading and let this be your sign to take that trip!

But first, huge thank you to Rachel Alvarez for putting this awesome collaboration together all across the US! Be sure to check her out to see what she’s up to and see how talented she is!

Okay, let’s get into it and explore Page, Arizona!

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If you follow along with me on my Instagram or Facebook, you’ll know that Kyle and I got to take a really fun trip to Page, Arizona (okay it was a while ago…in March…but better late than never right?!)

We were able to go on this trip through our Rec Center Copper Sky and it made planning super easy! So easy that we didn’t even have to do it ourselves 😀 This was a two day trip and it included:

  • Transportation to and from Maricopa to Page (about a 6 hour drive each way)
  • A visit to the Glen Canyon Dam overlook
  • A guided tour through Upper Antelope Canyon
  • A boat tour of Lake Powell which dropped us off at a trail to hike to Rainbow Bridge National Monument
  • A hotel stay at Lake Powell Resort
  • AND the chance to see Horseshoe Bend in all its glory.

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Yes. For real. It was amazing! Definitely check our your city’s Rec center or YMCA to see what trips you might be able to take too. We got to check off so many places from our bucket list because of this awesome program!

First stop was the Glen Canyon Dam. Thanks to City Town info I found out that the city of Page was established in March 1957. It was initially a housing camp for workers who were building the Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River. The city got its name from John C. Page, a commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation.

This scenic stop had views that rivaled horseshoe bend and a LOT less crowded. Win-win!

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Then we were finally on our way to Upper Antelope Canyon!

I was especially excited for this because I have always wanted to visit. Unfortunately, we were not there to see the famous light beams. Those are typically seen during the summer months when the sun is the highest. We were a bit early for that going in March and we were the last tour of the day starting at 4pm so the sun was already starting to set. I’ll get it next time!

Have no doubt, this canyon at any time of the day or year is just spectacular! Plus going in the “off season” means we didn’t have to fight the normal huge crowds. There were still a lot of people but even the guides mentioned it was not as bad as it can be. I was just thankful to get some photos that actually had no people in them! Yay for not having to edit out humans!

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We got to ride in this huge off road vehicle to the entrance of the canyon. It was super bumpy and loud but totally reminded me of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland so I enjoyed it 😉 After about a 10 minute drive, we arrived!

Our guide, Presley was SO friendly and super helpful the entire time of our trip. It was a great experience. He was also there to help other people with camera settings and phone settings for taking the best pictures inside the canyon. It was really dark once you were inside and about 20 degrees cooler!

According to The Navajo Parks & Recreation:
The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is Tse’ bighanilini, which means “the place where water runs through rocks.” The canyons were formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone, primarily due to flash flooding during the monsoon season.

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The time came for the tour of the canyon to end and I wasn’t ready to leave! I highly recommend going if you get the chance. It’s simply out of this world to see this in person and such an amazing experience. I’ll see you soon again Antelope Canyon!

We still had some daylight left afterwards so we headed to this amazing scenic view of Lake Powell. It was a little bit of a walk but the view was so worth it. Especially at sunset. We had the best cotton candy clouds that evening.

Side note – I’ve been challenging myself to create videos so you better believe I practiced getting some footage on this trip. Be sure to watch the video at the end of the post!

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After that side trip, it was time for dinner and some much needed rest! After traveling all day and seeing all the sights, Kyle and I were exhausted haha! We were happy about being able to spend the night at Lake Powell Resort (which had a gorgeous lake view room I might add, see below pic).

The next morning was gonna be an early one as it was time for a 2 hour boat ride on Lake Powell to go see Rainbow Bridge National Monument.

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Cool fact about Lake Powell, when it’s full it has almost 2000 miles of shoreline, about the same as the west coast of the United States! This lake was enormous! Kyle used to be a deckhand on a sportfishing boat in San Diego and has been on boats and the ocean all his life. Even he said he was shocked at how giant this lake was!

The guide on the boat was telling us some cool stories about the lake. For example, the scenery is so unusual there that it has been used as the setting for many movies! The latest was Gravity with Sandra Bullock. Planet of the Apes was filmed there too.

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It doesn’t look like it in some of these photos, but it was cold and windy! Everyone was bundled up!

This was our view coming up to the dock where Rainbow Bridge is.

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Rainbow Bridge is one of the world’s largest known natural bridges located in Utah. This rainbow-shaped arch is 290 feet tall, spans 275 feet and is 42 feet thick at the top. For centuries, the natural bridge has been regarded as sacred by the Navajo Indians who consider personified rainbows as the guardians of the universe.

Hiking up to this view and seeing that first little hint of the bridge was the coolest feeling ever. If you look at the mountains in the back, you can see there is still snow! The view was incredible.

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We got to explore that area for about an hour and a half then had to head back for that loooong boat ride.

Do you see those tiny people by the water? The rock formations walking back really put into perspective how small we are in this world.

After we got back, it was time to see Horseshoe Bend! I was so ready to see this iconic spot.

We hiked to the edge and let me tell you, there are no fences, no warnings, no guard rails…just the edge! You HAVE to be careful otherwise…There were people all around us and I heard the sounds of so many slipping on the sandstone and my stomach just turned. I am not normally afraid of heights, but this was another kind of fear haha! I still sat on the edge though 😉

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It was truly amazing to see this part of Arizona with my own eyes. Being a wedding + portrait photographer, my Instagram feed is filled with brides and grooms getting married at amazing locations like Yosemite, Iceland, and Horseshoe Bend. And I love being able to see those far away places right in the palm of my hand, but nothing will ever beat actually seeing it for yourself. Go explore! Get off the couch or computer desk and get out of the house! Find any excuse to make memories and be outdoors.

Here’s the promised video!

Hint: definitely watch this video at 1080p!

I’ll never forget this trip and can’t wait to go back! Who knows, maybe you’ll see it for yourself one day…

Alyssa is a Wedding + Portrait photographer in Phoenix, Arizona but was born and raised a California girl. She currently works full time for Shutterfly as a Production Design Training Lead. She and her husband have been married for almost 5 years and love to relax on their boat at Saguaro Lake. As a photographer, she specializes in capturing people just the way they are as the fun and goofy couple their friends and family know they are. She believes your soul knows when it’s onto something good and she enjoys capturing those moments forever, the way her couples see themselves is why she does what she does.
You can find more of her beautiful work here: 
This blog series will feature fine artists, makers and photographers from all 50 states as part of a #50statestickers project by Rachel Alvarez Art. You can see the inspiration for this series here: www.rachelalvarezart.com
Thank you so much for following along!

A Delmarvelous weekend – 48 hours of local fun in (and around) Salisbury, Md.

My Story.

Salisbury, Md. on Delmarva's Eastern Shore

 

I was born on a stretch of land on the Eastern Shore of Maryland called the Delmarva Peninsula, in the small town of Salisbury (population 33,114). Little did I know at the time that I would leave only to move back 3 different times. You see, when you grow up here, it’s easy to take things for granted.  When you are 16 wanting to go to a live concert, or 20 hoping for a bit of “city life”, you definitely won’t find it here. However, now as an adult, having lived a few different places, I fully understand now why people choose to “settle down” here.

 

To get here from anywhere west or south, you have to go over quite a few bridges or even drive into underwater tunnels. Perhaps, if you are a Marylander, you’ve only driven past Salisbury on your way to Ocean City or Assateague because that’s where ALL of the people go- (funny side story: when I first brought my Dominican husband to Ocean City on Memorial Day weekend of 2012 he asked, “are they giving away money or food?”)

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Image shown with permission : Zamonin

 

As a local, I do enjoy those other beach hangouts but usually only during off season (when I’m not snuggling up next to a stranger on my beach towel. …”what are you drinking?”). So, this post is all about my hometown- the places that I love to go to on a regular basis- and the places that I think that the locals would brag about. Honestly, it’s very hard to narrow down the list for this post but I’m gonna try to sum them up into one Delmarvelous weekend.

Here goes:

Day one:

  1. Start your day off right with a latte and breakfast from Rise Up  – A local favorite! Rise Up has the BEST local coffee. It’s Fair Trade and they have the happiest servers on the planet. Seriously. While you’re there, admire the beautiful window art painted by local artist Dean McNelia.
  2. Go to Pemberton Park for a hike on one of its many secluded trails. Make sure to read up on some of the history behind the planation home that was built there in 1741. Bring a book and sit at the picnic table surrounded by water.Pemberton Historical Park, Salisbury, MarylandPemberton Historical Park, Salisbury, Md.
  3. Roaring Point/Cove Beach – Take a country drive down Nanticoke Road to a pristine secluded beach on the bay (perfect for kids because there are no ocean waves to worry about). Stop by Westside Grocery, Bait & Tackle first to get your picnic lunch supplies. 20247947_10159119398720215_3921127018061044373_o
  4. Red Roost for dinner: crabs, fried chicken and corn on the cob. Two words- OLD BAY (seasoning) – a Maryland staple.
  5. Stay at the Whitehaven Hotel and go for an evening kayak or bike ride. (both are provided free of charge to guests.)

Day two:

  1. Take the Whitehaven Ferry over to Deal Island beach and search for beach glass. (make sure bring a bucket and to wear flip flops or beach shoes- some of the glass is still raw.) Deal Island Beach, Deal Island Maryland
  2. Drive down to the end of Deal Island Road to Wenona to see the crab shacks and boat slips of the local watermen.17545502_10158478543935215_4293836132741013794_o
  3. head over to Salisbury for lunch at Market Street Inn.
  4. take a walk thru the Salisbury City Park & Zoo– located in the heart of Salisbury.
  5. Visit the Ward Museum
  6. Dinner and local brews at Evolution Craft Brewing Co.
  7. Go to a Shorebirds Game- if you have kids, make sure bring extra money for the carousel and stay for the fireworks.

Well, there you have it folks. Here a summer fun itinerary for you. Our kids just had their very last day of preschool for the year, so we will be doing lots of exploring this summer. Can’t wait!

Be sure to follow along to read posts from some really fun guest bloggers from all 50 states! Next up: Arizona. We will hear from Alyssa Ryan from @alyssaryanphotography about her recent trip to Page, Arizona.

About the writer: Rachel Alvarez is a watercolor artist living on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her work celebrates life’s simple pleasures. Her custom watercolor paintings and illustrations reflect a love for travel, adventure, memory making and family history. You can see more of her work or commission your own piece of art here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

Follow her on Instagram here: @rachelalvarezart

Want to follow along as we travel to all 50 states? Receive an email newsletter every two weeks and freebies & coupons along the way>here<. Thanks for following along!

Have a beautiful day,

Rachel

 

 

*Please note: none of the content is this post was endorsed in any way.

Happy Earth Day!

My Story.

Today is a special day to celebrate this amazing earth that we all have to enjoy. There are many ways to do this, but today I want to introduce you to a couple of people that do it in a really beautiful way.

When I was in art school, we studied the work of one person in particular that really got my attention: Andy Goldsworthy. He is a British sculptor that uses pieces of the earth (leaves, sticks, rocks, etc) as his supplies.

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photo by iurikothe on Flickr

When he was a young boy, he work worked as a laborer in farm fields. He says that “A lot of my work is like picking potatoes; you have to get into the rhythm of it.” This is an interesting perspective to me because I have written in the past about how much previous “menial” work can shape art. Goldsworthy’s work is mesmerizing. The details he makes in his outdoor sculptures somehow exist without distracting you too much from the natural beauty of the location that they were designed into. 

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photo by Elijah Porter on Flickr

It’s interesting to note that much of his work disappears within a very short period of time. Many people have taken that fact and connected it to the fragility of the earth, but he sees it as much more complex than that: “When I make something, in a field or street, it may vanish but it’s part of the history of those places,” he says in another interview. “In the early days my work was about collapse and decay. Now some of the changes that occur are too beautiful to be described as simply decay. At Folkestone I got up early one morning ahead of an incoming tide and covered a boulder in poppy petals. It was calm and the sea slowly and gently washed away the petals, stripping the boulder and creating splashes of red in the sea. The harbour from which many troops left for war was in the background.”

If you have a few minutes, listen to this interview with him care of NPR: Andy Goldsworthy interview. Take special note of what he says concerning the topic of failure. It’s really an interesting concept that I can completely relate to.

You can see much more of his work, and a few other nature artists on my Pinterest board here: https://www.pinterest.com/ralvarezart/earth-inspired-art

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There are a few people that I suspect have been very influenced by Goldsworthy. One of these people is James Brunt. He is a current artist, and you can here his website here: http://www.jamesbruntartist.co.uk

On another note, if you are looking for some people to follow on Instagram that celebrate nature in their work, here are some of my favorites:

instagram.com/robertandstella

instagram.com/maggierutherfordart

instagram.com/thefloralfoxart

instagram.com/lisapittman

instagram.com/emily.phillips.art

Do you have any favorite artists that reflect nature’s bounty in their work? Please feel free to share them with me via the contact form on my website here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

I love following and supporting fellow artists!

Have a beautiful day,

Rachel

Tips for properly framing watercolor art.

My Story.

Ove the past year, I have had more and more requests for custom watercolor paintings – whether it is a custom home portrait or a family memory piece, one thing that I always to try to communicate to potential clients is the need to properly frame watercolors. Unlike acrylics and oils, which have their own specific framing/preservation needs, watercolors are painted onto paper. This process allows an image to be painted in a soft & delicate unique way, but extra care must be taken so that the art can be enjoyed, without damage, for many years to come.

Here is a simple infographic with tips on how to frame your custom piece. Doing these 5 things will allow your custom art to be preserved for many years, allowing you to celebrate your memories the way that they should be- in beautiful, vivid color.

If you have any specific questions concerning framing or custom art, feel free to reach out to me thru the contact form on my website here: www.rachelalvarezart.com

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Want to see some of the commissions that I have been working on lately? Check out my Instagram feed for all of my most recent projects here: @rachelalvarezart

Have a beautiful day!

Rachel

2017 Year in Review

My Story.

It’s April 3rd, and I am FINALLY getting around to writing about what happened in 2017. Funny thing is with tax prep, current art projects and LIFE, I just hadn’t made it a priority to sit down and reflect on what had happened, and what I would like to see happen in 2018. So, here we are!

Last year was a big, fun whirlwind. Being a small art business owner has it’s own unique challenges, but coupling that with being a full time stay at home mom makes the days & tasks all kind of run together. I’ve never been all that great at making time for reflection (as seen in this here blog post, ha!), but I am trying to be better about it.

Sometime at the beginning of the last year I read this article: 4 motivations that make artists successful. In the article, it talks about how there are 4 major things that inspire artists to succeed – people can either be motivated by one, or a combination of all of them:

  • financial success
  • social interactions
  • compulsion to create
  • the freedom of the artist lifestyle

After I read the article, I realized that my desire to paint every day is definitely linked to all four, with financial success at the bottom of the list and social interactions at the top, in terms of importance to me.

The one thing that sticks out to me the most about 2017 is all of the social interactions. I was blessed to be able to work on twice as many custom paintings compared to 2016. Each of those pieces offered me an opportunity to really connect with an individual- to see a glimpse into what they hold dear and see as meaningful in their own life. This is my absolute favorite kind of work. There is just something about being trusted with someone’s memories that really makes being an artist rewarding emotionally. Here are some of the custom pieces I painted last year:

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I definitely feel a compulsion to paint (although I really don’t like that word “compulsion” at all.) It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s almost like I don’t feel the compulsion, but more the absence of something when I don’t make time for art. Last year I made time for it, and that felt really good.

It’s true, there is great freedom in the artist’s lifestyle but, as it’s been said, with great freedom comes great responsibility. Unlike my previous “traditional” jobs, I have no one giving me a morning to-do list, setting up my meetings, or paying my taxes or contributing to my matching 401k. In 2017 it was a big learning curve for me to manage my time wisely but I am SO thankful that it was ME managing MY time. I had the freedom to say “yes” to projects that really meant something to me and “no” to ones that didn’t.

Here are a few of the highlights of 2017:

 

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  • participated in my first art fair, and a very dark photo to prove it. /\
  • successfully potty trained our daughter
  • got accepted to see on Handmade at Amazon
  • all 50 state paintings were formatted into decals:

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  • I made our bed EVERY SINGLE MORNING after watching this >video<
  • I was able to collaborate with The Maryland Citizens for the Arts on a project to help raise arts awareness in our state:

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  • I stopped feeding myself solely with the random food left on my kid’s lunchtime plates – ie. goldfish crackers and cold Mac n’ cheese….
  • 37 unique commissions were completed
  • first commercial rights art project completed
  • used colored pencils for the first time since college (15 years ago):

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  • first newspaper article was written about me concerning balancing being a mom and artist
  • successfully learned all of the songs from Disney’s Frozen and then subsequently performed them during my kid’s bath time every day (pro tip: bathroom echoes make for better concerts, let me tell you…)
  • first foreign country painted:DSC_2617

2016/2017 side by side:

Overall, It was a great year with many opportunities for personal growth. There were many “firsts” and even more “what the heck am I doing?!” moments.

So, what are my goals in 2018?

  1. learn to pump the brakes. A perfectionist by nature, I can sometimes try to take on too much at once. I’m learning to be intentional with my time, both as a mother and an artist.
  2. cultivate better friendships, especially with other artists. As much as I love the social interactions that being an artist affords, it can sometimes be a lonely place too. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best friend someone can have- not because I don’t care- quite the contrary- I am simply not very good at reaching out.
  3. grow the wholesale side of the business. There is something very special about the thought of having my work be a part of someone else’s dream to have a small business. It’s like we are in this together, and I love that.
  4. Paint things that make me uncomfortable and force me to flex my art muscles.
  5. Be better about book- keeping throughout the year so I am not writing my 2018 re-cap in April of next year… (2019, don’t quote me on this one. haha!!)

Well, there you have it. Lots of things happened, and here’s to setting (and reaching) some new goals in 2018.

Thank you so much for following along, everyone.

Your support means the world to me!

See more “real-time” art projects on my Instagram >here<.

Have a beautiful day,

– Rachel

8 tips for battling self doubt as an artist. techniques to increase productivity for artists, makers and creatives by Rachel Alvarez Art

8 tips for battling self doubt as an artist.

My Story.

True story. I am consistently battling self-doubt. As they say, we are all our worst critics, right? Self doubt is what kept me from using my art degree for over 15 years. It took me becoming a SAHM, after a long corporate career, to feel confident enough to try to paint again (mostly because we were going to be relying on one income anyways so, if I failed, it wouldn’t really affect anyone else but me.)

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After 2 years of painting every single day, I have had many opportunities to face my fears head on. It crops up in many ways, but here are some of the effects that self doubt has had on my art if I let it get to the best of me:

  1. Under-charging for my work. I’ve caught myself typing an email response to a custom painting inquiry and instead of putting my true prices and sticking to them, I typed a number- back spaced- and re-typed a lower amount. Or, something has been thrown in for free.
  2. I’ve said no to certain projects just because it wasn’t in my “comfort zone” and I was afraid of failing.
  3. Procrastination happens more often when I am not believing in myself.

8 tips for battling self doubt as an artist. techniques to increase productivity for artists, makers and creatives by Rachel Alvarez Art
During the last year or so, I have been really intentional about acknowledging these feelings and determining their roots. Here are some things that have really helped me to produce when I am not feeling the best about my ability:

  1. Having email templates ready so that I can respond to inquiries in the same manner every time. This takes the emotional ups and downs out of the equation. Doing this has helped me to have even more confidence in my work than if I had accepted commission work at a discounted rate (which leaves me feeling defeated for not allowing myself to get paid what any person should get paid for the amount of hours/effort I am putting in.)
  2. Making the decision to never say “no” (as long as I have time in my schedule to take it on). Last year, I made a personal decision to do my absolute best to take on all painting challenges- even the ones that tempted me to run in the opposite direction. I am a perfectionist by nature, and doing this has helped me to deliver quality pieces of art that are completely outside of my normal subject matter…like a rooster wearing earrings eating chocolate, or a Venus Fly Trap. In the end, I have found that the completion of art that utterly terrifies me actually encourages me to take on an even bigger challenge the next time.
  3. Deciding to produce every single day for an audience (even if there isn’t one). This may sound strange, but if I make a commitment to produce every day in honor of my followers, it helps me get past self doubt. It helps me focus on the process and get away from the hangups that are sometimes associated with it. It helps me to get outside of myself and give me hope that I might make someone smile that day- and that makes getting past that moment of doubt worth every bit of the courage that it takes to paint.
  4. Keep a journal of quotes from happy customers. Self explanatory, I’m sure, but remembering people who have previously trusted me with their vision and memories helps me to know that I am capable of doing it successfully again.
  5. Studying previous personal art and looking for times when technical improvements or better use of materials were developed.
  6. Going outside. There is just something really healing about getting fresh air and then sitting back down in the studio.
  7. Recording the painting process. Last year, I had many moments of self doubt when the image on my watercolor paper was still in the mid-beginning stages. By filming the process, and then speeding it up, I can study how elements like shape, color, contrast and texture develop over time. It helps me to understand the concept of growth in my art. Just like a seed, it takes many other critical steps of development before that seed becomes a flower, blooming out of the dirt.
  8. Never throw away an unfinished piece of art. This decision was born out of this 50 state watercolor project, which took a little more than 5 months to complete. For that project, I had personal deadline- November 1st. With limited time available to paint (literally during the nap times of my kids) I could not afford to fail. If I started something that I wasn’t happy with I set it aside, moved onto something else, and re-visited it on another day. Somehow, I managed to paint 50 consecutive paintings without throwing away a single piece of paper – and I finished the last one on, you guessed it, November 1st.

watercolor United States map - 50 state paintings celebrating America the Beautiful. by Rachel Alvarez

How does your self doubt effect your business? What do you do to combat it?

Let’s get in touch. I would love to hear about your work, and the art that only YOU can do.

-Rachel @rachelalvarezart

PS. Along the way, I have been greatly inspired by other fellow artists and entrepreneurs. Here are some links to some of my favorite speeches and podcasts on this topic.

Recently, I had the privilege of hearing Adam Lerner talk about the risk of failure at Maryland Arts Day in Annapolis. It was very inspirational. He spoke about his Failure Project- which was designed to allow kids the opportunity to fail- while trying. Students were awarded “biggest failure” based on how much of a risk they were willing to take in order to create. This speech is similar to the one I heard last week:

“Hacks to get more done” via Amy Porterfield’s podcast

“Keeping Real on Social Media” via Jenna Kutcher’s podcast

Read my latest blog post here: I didn’t get the art scholarship.

I didn’t get the art scholarship.

My Story.

It’s a time in my life that I will never forget. I was in my sophomore year of school, and I was deep in the trenches of my art studies.

For spring break that year, my mom and I decided to take a train trip half-way across the country to Topeka, KS. to visit family. On our last day, we arrived at the train station only to hear that our train had partially derailed somewhere west of us after hitting a cow on the tracks.

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Our itinerary was going to be delayed. As I’ve written before, it’s usually my preference to take the long, scenic way home, but this time I need to get back- I had applied for an arts scholarship, and I needed to be home to present my portfolio.

When our train finally arrived in Kansas, we were hours behind schedule.  Our route was taking us to Chicago and, there, we would know just how late we would be on our return to Maryland. After we all boarded the train and got settled in, there was an announcement: “Amtrack officials will be meeting with people in the restaurant car to arrange travel plans. Please choose a member of your party as a representative to speak with them.” My mom looked at me and said, “Rachel, you’re 19, you go and make a decision to get us home.” We settled back into our seats and, ironically, I continued reading a book for my sociology class entitled “Ain’t no Makin’ It” (a really fascinating study on social inequality that I highly recommend.)tom-barrett-328717-unsplash

After a few hours, someone came to our seats and said that we were up. I followed them to a train car quite a ways away, and went inside where two officials dressed in navy blue were seated, waiting for me. “Where are you going?” they asked. “Salisbury, Maryland by way of Baltimore.” I said. “What brought you to Kansas?” they asked. “My mom and I spent my spring break traveling to see our family.” “Is there anything we need to know about your travel needs?” “Yes,” I said, “I need to get back to Salisbury as soon as possible. I’m an art major in college, and I am presenting my portfolio for an art scholarship.” They took notes. “Ok, ma’am, we will determine the best course of action and you will be notified in Chicago of the decision. You may go back to your seat.”

After 10 hours of travel, our train stopped in Chicago. It was about 2am.

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Hundreds of people exited the train and filed into lines at the Amtrak counter. Exhausted and frustrated, they received news that the next trains were not leaving for hours and they were prepared for the long night ahead.

While we were waiting in line, someone discreetly walked up to us and said to me, “Rachel?” “Yes.” I replied. They handed me an envelope and quietly whispered not to mention it to anyone. Inside the envelope we found information about a Chicago hotel, taxi fare, and 2 plane tickets-  back home to Baltimore. My mom and I were pretty shocked. We ended up spending the night in a very nice hotel, and took our time getting to the airport the next morning.

Our plane landed and we drove back to Salisbury. Turns out that, after all of that, we still arrived home sooner than if we had never been delayed in the first place. The next day, I arrived at the Salisbury Wicomico County Arts Council with my photography portfolio in hand and never said a word about what we had just been thru. I didn’t get the scholarship.

19 years has passed, and I will never forget the amazing way that our trip ended. To this day, when I am going thru something tough, I think back on times just like this one. I didn’t get the scholarship, but the experience was even more rewarding.

Isn’t it funny how things all seem to work out in the end?

“Sooner or later we must realize there is no station, no one place to arrive at once and for all. The true joy of life is the trip.
— Robert J. Hastings

art inspiration - never give up on your dreams

Want to see some of the art that I paint now? Look here <

Read more about my love of travel here <

Enjoy the journey, folks.

-Rachel Alvarez