How to stay motivated to paint when life is so busy.

My Story.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked my Instagram followers what they would like for me to write about in upcoming blog posts. I received many questions, and I will do my best to address them in the coming weeks. One question that came up really struck my interest:

“How do you stay motivated to create when life is so busy?”

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This question is something that I have had to personally answer many times. As a full time stay at home mom, and a full-time artist, I can easily fill in all of the little chunks of “free time” that I have with other tasks: house cleaning, business needs (like taxes and social media), grocery shopping, meal planning, and prep, etc. I’m just as busy as anyone else, so I can’t say that I have a magic answer to this, but I do have some personal insight that may be helpful.

Here are 4 things that have helped me to consistently produce art.

  • made a promise to myself and I kept it.
  • made a promise to my followers to keep “showing up”, and I did.
  • wrote it down in a schedule, and seriously limited my time.
  • pretended that I had a boss that would be checking my work each week.

When I first started painting again, four years ago, I made a promise to myself that I would pick up my paints every single day. Most days, that meant painting during my son’s nap times (he was 2 1/2) at the time. However, I do remember a few times when he wouldn’t nap and I had to sketch in a sketchbook while he played in our backyard.

I announced my decision to social media. At the time, I didn’t have many followers at all, but the people who were following me (mostly being family and friends back then), knew that I had spent YEARS day-dreaming about doing art while never actually doing it.  Promising myself to them gave me something extremely helpful in combating artist  “creative block” ….accountability.

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When I was a Starbucks manager, I remember thriving on the high-demand multi-tasking: the oven would be beeping because the cookies were done, the drink orders required many levels of preparation simultaneously, and the milk delivery would almost inevitably arrive when we were at the height of our rush hour. I found that with my art business I really enjoyed having many balls in the air at the same time, however, if I didn’t write down a tentative daily plan, I would waste time doing tasks that were not essential to moving the needle in my business (such as painting). Keeping a schedule has been really important- and I would suggest it, even if you are just trying to create a little more art for yourself every day. Oh! and don’t give yourself TOO much time. You will get overwhelmed and feel defeated- you don’t need any of those feelings doing something so fun. 🙂

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I pretended that I had a boss. This one may sound silly, but I really did help me to make a habit to paint every single day. (you can blame my “type A” perfectionist approach to life on this tip.) When I was working outside of the home, I thrived in the corporate environment because I really enjoyed the challenge of reaching the next level- whatever it was. Pretending that I had someone else critiquing my work at the end of the week was really crucial to my motivation, and many times it was my husband that heard what my goals, challenges, and successes were instead of a scary “real” boss. haha!

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So, there you have it friends- the four things that have helped me to make a habit of painting (or drawing or making something) every day. I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any tips you would like to share, or if you implement one of these tips and it’s helpful to you.

One thing is for sure, you won’t become an artist until you make art- so, get to making some! (and send me some photos when you’re done 😉 )

Happy painting!

xoxo,

Rachel

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photos by @mandaweaver

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My fancy studio is in our bedroom.

My Story.

When I was in art school, I painted in an elaborate studio. We each had our own easels, were able to pretty much come and go as we pleased and had glorious floor-to-ceiling windows with abundant natural light. (You can see me way in the back with the clouds.)34635_144495152233396_416674_n

After graduating, I got tricked into thinking that my art space had to be large. I talked myself out of painting because I didn’t have the best easel or paints or space…the excuses went on and on. I moved into a small apartment and hung the clouds on the wall. 1928704_121444080214_9417_n

Then 15 years later when painting had, sadly, been put on the back burner, I realized that even my sketchbooks were dusty. The small tools that I DID have available to me were not even being used. There was a bigger issue at hand- I didn’t believe in myself.

It took encouragement from my husband for me to finally try my art again.

I started small, painting tiny 6″x6″ pieces. If I couldn’t paint something, I would grab my pencils and draw. I made a promise to myself not to get too wrapped up in WHAT I was doing just THAT I was doing it. Soon enough, I got more comfortable with my tools.

When we first walked into our 1950’s home in Salisbury,Md., we fell in love with the windows. Natural light burst thru them and the entire home felt like a breath of fresh air. We just knew we had to live there. (Here is a photo from when we had just moved in…sadly, none of those plants are still alive. ha!)1172268_10153176224720215_145980376_o

In our new home, I quickly discovered that the best light was in one particular east-facing corner…which happened to be in the master bedroom. I had tried to set up a “fancy” studio in our bonus room, but because it lacks temperature control it just isn’t the best place to store paper and paint. So, for the past 3 years, I have been faithfully painting daily from a small corner in our bedroom- finishing over 200 original pieces of art.

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Why am I writing all of this? Sometimes we talk ourselves out of starting something because we think we don’t have all of the best equipment, the inspirational dedicated workspace or the talent. What we don’t realize is that the only way to become something is to start. We all have to start somewhere.

While I do dream of having a secluded space where I can paint and pack orders, this pretty little corner of our home works just fine for now.

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My encouragement to you is: start. Start doing that thing you’ve always wanted to try but were nervous you would fail doing. Start making promises to yourself and keep them.

You will never regret trying, you’ll only regret the fear that kept you from it.

xoxo,

Rachel (TheNapTimeArtist)

 

What I want when I’m 80 years old.

My Story.

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This is my favorite photo of me and the kids. My son, with his sweet little baby face and my daughter with her two bottom teeth.

I can remember that moment like it happened yesterday, and it was almost 4 years ago. We were in the guest room of our home having a pillow fight and making a “fort” under the down comforter. It was cold outside but we were cozy.

As a full time stay at home mommy artist, I have had many opportunities to play with my kids. Many moments of making a complete fool of myself on purpose just to make them laugh (everyone know that those are the best kinds of giggles to hear).

When I was younger, I never really gave much thought about what was important to me as a life mission. I did my best to be kind, successful and passionate, but I never asked myself the question, “where do I want to be when I’m 80?”

Now that I am in my late thirties, and away from the corporate world, the allure of money and things have started to die down and I am realizing now, more than ever, the importance of relationships. Every day I have the opportunity to love on my little family. Every day with my art, I have the opportunity to help other people love on theirs. That really is an honor.

I think that that realization is what has truly started to form my vision for my own personal and business goals over the last few years. Because, as we all know, not much matters more than the relationships we have and get to enjoy in our life, however long or short it may be.

When I am 80, I want to be known as a faithful loving wife and mom, a good friend, and someone full of forgiveness and grace. I want to exude joy, and help others to do the same. I want to give the people around me a reason to laugh and smile and love life.

In business, I want to do many of the same things. I want to help people to celebrate their relationships, and to give them a moment of joy every day by reminding them of the beautiful world around them- a way to remember where they were when their special memories happened.

It’s been a true joy, the last few years, to work on so many custom art projects that honor anniversaries, marriages, homes, friendships, moments of transition and growth… for that, I am abundantly thankful.

This is my big picture. What is yours?

Have a beautiful day,

Rachel

 

 

 

 

2018 – Year in Review

My Story.

Can you believe that 2018 is already over? I don’t know if it was the unseasonably warm winter weather or the influx of fall activities that made it seem to fly by faster than usual, but here we are at another beautiful year.

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Each year I try my best to take a look back at the projects, commissions and goals that were completed. It’s a fun way to start with a clean slate for the next year, see opportunities for growth and development and get my priorities for life and business in order.

I had 5 major goals in 2018:

  1. to learn to pump the brakes.
  2. to cultivate better friendships, especially with other artists.
  3. to grow the wholesale side of the business.
  4. to paint things that made me uncomfortable and forced me to flex my art muscles.
  5. to be better about book- keeping throughout the year.

All in all, I call 2018 a success according to those measures.

There was a marked difference in my stress levels this year. A conscious decision was made to be less of a “yes” person, and spend more time “in” the business and not “on” the business. So, I planned ahead more and used more automation tools to help with that.  I was also thankful to have more consistent childcare (21 hours per week) which helped life/work balance tremendously, and allowed me to truly enjoy both more than before.

Collaboration was a huge focus in 2018- from partnering with amazing guest bloggers, to working with photographers and wedding planners, it was so refreshing to cultivate new relationships with ultra-talented artists across many outlets. What an inspiration!

Wholesale became a huge focus. After applying and being accepted to wholesale outlets Indie Me, Stockabl and Faire, wholesale took over as the 2nd largest portion of my business, just after retail.

For commissions, I reached out of comfort zone on several occasions this year – moving away from solely painting landscapes and venturing more into portraiture. Digital illustrations became a new adventure as well- something I have wanted to try for quite a few years.

I’m still working on being better about monthly bookkeeping, LOL (!), but at least I am getting to my year in review in December instead of April… #progress?

 

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It’s interesting to me to compare year over and year and see where things have changed and where my energy and time can be best used going forward.

So, here is a side by side for 2017- 2018.

 

Here are a few of the highlights of 2018:

  1. first collaboration with the National Parks Service for Chaco Culture National Historical Park

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2. first digital t-shirt design

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3. first major art fair (National Folk Festival)

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4. The release of mini versions of the 50 state stickers & travel tracker map.

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In the coming year, I have quite a few big dreams and goals. Here are a few of them:

  • Automate more of what can be automated to protect family/friend time
  • Work on more personal projects
  • Develop new product lines
  • Continue to expand wholesale
  • Collaborate with influencers
  • Explore more logo/branding design

Thank you all so much for your constant encouragement and support.  I am forever grateful to have you here along with me in this journey.

Here’s to 2019- a new year for getting past fears, making and meeting goals and opportunities for growth. What are some of your goals & dreams?

Love and Light- Happy New Year!

-Rachel, TheNapTimeArtist

 

 

 

 

 

 

2018 Holiday Gift Guide by Rachel Alvarez Art

My Story.

I don’t know about you, but I always have the hardest time trying to think of gifts for my loved ones. Whether they are young or old, my mind gets swamped with ideas and information and I usually end up settling for a simple, easy to please them….gift card.

That’s why this year I thought it would be fun to help out my art followers with some easy gift ideas so they can cross off some people on their list.

So, here goes!

For the traveler on your list: 

  • this US travel tracker map. Formatted from 50 individual watercolor paintings, you won’t see anything like it! Each weatherproof vinyl decal can be placed individually so that your wanderluster can celebrate the places that they’ve checked off!

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For the coffee lover (or new mom 😉 ) 

  • the brunette version seen below was originally painted on International Women’s Day. You can read the full reason why here. I’m looking forward to expanding this series as time allows. So fun to paint!

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For the long-distance family or friend:

  • tell them you can’t live without them- even across the miles- with this customizable long distance love art print. (also great for wedding and anniversary gifts!)

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For the college student: 

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For the foodie or chef:

  • Help them bring a splash of color to their walls (not just their meals) with these pretty watercolor fruit and herb prints. (Also available as blank notecards.)

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For the vintage lover: 

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For the photographer: 

  • a little something to inspire them to share their gifts with the world: a camera sticker that they can put anywhere.

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For you: 

  • a way to celebrate the places you’ve made memories. All 50 state art prints available in standard, framable sizes- pop them in a frame and make your own beautiful gallery wall!

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For everyone on your list:  

  • gift cards, available in any denomination. Would they want a custom home portrait? Maybe a painting of their beloved pup? The sky is the limit when you let them pick something they will cherish forever.
  • donut notecards…because, who doesn’t love donuts?!

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So, there you go friends! Lots of ideas for everyone on your list.

Be sure to check out the full shop here: www.rachelalvarezart.com (also, you will get a 10% coupon if you sign up for the newsletter!)

Have a wonderful holiday, everyone!

– Rachel

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5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

50 state stickers blog series

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Written by guest bloggers: Adam & Kathryn 

5 Fun Seattle Neighborhoods to Explore

One of the things that makes Seattle special are all of the quaint, unique, and fun neighborhoods that surround the city. As you walk the tree lined streets, you often forget that you’re just a few miles from downtown. We love having the ability to escape the hustle and bustle of the city so easily and love the different personalities that each neighborhood has.

Here are our five favorite Seattle neighborhoods (it was so hard to choose!) and some of the top restaurants, coffee shops, and things to do in each one. Whether you’re a Seattleite or planning a trip to Seattle in the future, we hope that this helps you discover new spots within the city!

PS: If you are looking for an itinerary for Seattle, check out our 3 Days in Seattle guide, which features most of these neighborhoods.

Upper Queen Anne

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Upper Queen Anne is where we call home and we absolutely love this gem of a neighborhood! Upper Queen Anne is less touristy than some of the other neighborhoods on this list, as it’s a quieter, family-friendly area with less trendy restaurants. However, it’s still filled with so many great spots, including our favorite view of the city!

Where to eat: We admittedly have not eaten at many of the restaurants in Queen Anne, partially due to the fact that we don’t eat out that much and also because we are usually out exploring other areas. However, there are a handful of super great restaurants in Queen Anne worth checking out: Bounty Kitchen, 5 Spot, Macrina Bakery & Cafe, Bite Box, Mezcaleria Oaxaca, Homegrown, and How to Cook a Wolf (pricey!). For dessert, we recommend Molly Moon’s Ice Cream!

Coffee Shops: Our favorite coffee shop in Queen Anne is El Diablo, which is a cuban-inspired cafe with great coffee, awesome breakfast sandwiches, and great indoor and outdoor spaces for working or hanging out. Some other coffee shops we love in the neighborhood are The Wick Motorcycles and Coffee (a joint motorcycle and coffee shop!) and Storyville Coffee.

Thing to do: By far the best thing to do in Queen Anne is Kerry Park, which actually isn’t much of a park, but it is a beautiful scenic viewpoint overlooking the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, and on a clear day, Mount Rainier. This is one of our top must do things in Seattle! While you’re at Kerry Park, make sure to continue walking down Highland Drive to see some crazy big and beautiful houses, as well as check out the other viewpoint at the end of the street. And for Grey’s Anatomy fans, the house from the show is located right around this area too!

Ballard

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Ballard is probably our favorite neighborhood in Seattle. Its tree lined streets, great restaurants, bars, and cute shops make it such a fun area to explore!

Where to eat: One of our favorite restaurants in Seattle, Asadero, is in Ballard. This is a steak lover’s paradise! Their carne asada is a good price for the size (and totally shareable!) and their homemade guacamole and salsas are so good! Some other great spots in Ballard include Pestle Rock, Biscuit and Bean, Un Bien (a little north of Ballard, but super close!), Cafe Besalu, and The Walrus and the Carpenter (if you’re feeling fancy!). For dessert, make sure you swing by Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery!

Coffee Shops: Ballard is home to many coffee shops! Some of our favorites include: Ballard Coffee Works, Slate Coffee Roasters, and Cafe Umbria. Slate Coffee Roasters does something pretty unique that is worth trying–a deconstructed latte, which is a latte broken up into three glasses. One has espresso, one has milk, and one has a traditional latte and the purpose is to taste the elements separately from one another. It’s a cool thing to try once!

Things to do: There is no shortage of things to do in Ballard! The neighborhood has a lot of Scandinavian and maritime history, as it’s right by the water. One super unique thing to do in the area is check out the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, where you can watch boats go from Lake Washington and Lake Union into the Puget Sound. It’s surprisingly very interesting! You can also watch salmon migrate up a fish ladder in the summer months. Another one of our favorite attractions near Ballard is Golden Gardens Park, which is a beach on the Puget Sound with views of the Olympic Mountains. This is a great place to relax for a couple hours, have a picnic, and watch the sunset. On Sundays, one of the best things to do in Seattle is go to the Ballard Farmers Market. This is our favorite market in town and features tons of local vendors–make sure to go hungry! And lastly, Ballard is home to many breweries, including Stoup Brewing and Reuben’s Brews, which makes it a great neighborhood to go brewery hopping.

Fremont

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Gas Works Park

Fremont is known as the Center of the Universe and is a quirky and fun neighborhood across Lake Union from downtown Seattle. Similar to Ballard, the streets are tree lined and we could spend hours walking around the area.

Where to eat: Two of our top restaurants in Seattle are in Fremont: Stoneway Cafe and Uneeda Burger. Stoneway Cafe is our go-to quick spot for affordable and fresh food (almost everything is under $10). They serve breakfast all day and we love their breakfast burrito, their pulled pork, and their salads. Uneeda Burger is an order at the counter burger spot cranking out high quality, fancy burgers and amazing fries. They have an awesome outdoor patio for those non rainy Seattle days. A handful of other popular spots in Fremont include: Royal Grinders, SWeL, Manolin, and RockCreek Seafood & Spirits.

Coffee Shops: Fremont, just like the rest of Seattle is full of great coffee shops. A few top shops to check out are: Milstead, MiiR, and Fremont Coffee. Milstead is a delicious coffee shop right by the Fremont Troll and close to Gasworks Park, making it super convenient for anyone exploring those areas. MiiR is a pretty unique place to grab coffee, as it’s a small outdoor gear shop that also serves coffee and beer, while Fremont Coffee is in an old house and has a nice cozy vibe.

Things to do:  Some of our favorite tourist attractions in Seattle happen to be in Fremont. First up, Gas Works Park, which is is unlike anything we have ever seen before. It’s a former gasification plant on Lake Union that is now a park with views of Seattle. It’s a great picnic and kite flying spot and you can also watch the seaplanes take off and land! It technically may be in the Wallingford neighborhood, but it’s so close to Fremont that we are going to include it anyways. 🙂 After exploring Gas Works Park, head to the Fremont Troll which is one of the weirdest and most random landmarks in Seattle, but makes for a great photo opp! It is a huge sculpture of a troll crushing a VW bug underneath a bridge and is fun to climb on. If you love chocolate, you must check out the Theo Chocolate Tour. Theo is a local chocolate factory and during the hour long tour (which is only $10) you get tons of free chocolate samples! You also get to learn a lot about the chocolate making process. Lastly, the Fremont Sunday Street Market, similar to the Ballard Farmers Market, is a market full of local vendors. The Fremont market is a bit different because it’s indoors and outdoors and is more of a flea market than a produce and food item market.

West Seattle

Alki Beach

West Seattle, as the name implies, is the area west of downtown Seattle and has an awesome laid back beach town vibe. With a large beach, views of the city and mountains, and miles of beachfront biking and walking paths, there is no better place to be in the city on a sunny summer day!

Where to eat: Whenever we go to West Seattle we always go to the same place to eat: Marination Ma Kai. This Hawaiian fusion restaurant is right on the water, has breathtaking views of Seattle, delicious food (try the kimchi fried rice!), and is pretty affordable. You can also take the water taxi from downtown Seattle to West Seattle and it drops you off right in front of the restaurant. If you’re not craving Hawaiian food, we recommend checking out Husky Deli and The Swinery for sandwiches or Cactus for Mexican food with a view.

Coffee Shops: If you’re in need of caffeine while exploring West Seattle, we highly suggest getting a cup of coffee at Sound & Fog, Olympia Coffee, or Realfine Coffee. We can’t pick a favorite among the three–they are all great!

Things to do:  The big appeal of West Seattle is its proximity to the water and it’s no surprise that the best activities in the area are water related! Our must-do item while over in West Seattle is to spend some time at Alki Beach. There are volleyball courts, fire pits, lots of space to lay out, and amazing views of the mountains and city. The water isn’t the best for swimming, so we recommend renting a kayak or stand up paddle board to actually get out on the water. And if you’re lucky, you may see a seal! When we aren’t at Alki Beach in West Seattle, you can usually find us at Lincoln Park, which is a little south of the main area, but has nice walking trails, water access, picnic spots, and mountain views.

Capitol Hill

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Capitol Hill is a bustling, colorful, hip neighborhood just east of downtown Seattle, known for being the city’s LGBTQ hub and home of Seattle’s nightlife. It’s probably Seattle’s most popular neighborhood and is full of Seattle’s top restaurants and coffee shops!

Where to eat: Our all time favorite place to eat in Seattle is an amazing taco shop called Tacos Chukis. Their original location is in Capitol Hill and is a bit of a hole in the wall, but their signature Tacos Chukis tacos with pineapple are so delicious! A few other great spots to check out include: Witness, Fogón Cocina Mexicana, Mamnoon,and Cascina Spinasse. For a sweet treat, we love Frankie & Jo’s, a vegan and plant based ice cream shop with the best waffle cones ever. Verve Bowls, for acai bowls, and General Porpoise, for filled doughnuts, are two more super cute options to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Coffee Shops: If you’re looking for coffee paradise, head to Capitol Hill! There are way too many great coffee shops to list here, so we’re sticking to some of our absolute favorites! For coffee and an awesome experience, visit the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room. This is unlike any Starbucks you have ever been to. You can watch them roast and package coffee, as well as try drinks that aren’t available at regular Starbucks. For another unique coffee shop experience, head to Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe, which is a technical bookstore and coffee shop, with great coffee, food, and really neat tables that are full of trinkets. We love going here to work! For more traditional coffee shop vibes, Victrola Coffee and Capitol Coffee Works are both solid coffee shops in the heart of Capitol Hill.

Things to do: As we mentioned above, the Starbucks Reserve Roastery & Tasting Room is a super cool experience and one of our favorite activities in Capitol Hill. Another thing we love to do in this area is walk around the shops. A few awesome shops to check out are The Elliott Bay Book Company, Standard Goods, Glasswing, and Retrofit Home. For those of you who love to go out, Capitol Hill is full of fun bars and clubs. We hardly ever go out, but we have been to Rock Box, which is a super fun karaoke bar where you can rent out your own karaoke room with friends. A few other popular spots are Unicorn, Sun Liquor, and Pie Bar. While Capitol Hill is known for its going out scene, it’s also home to the beautiful Volunteer Park and Conservatory, which is nice escape from the hustle and bustle of Capitol Hill. We love going into the conservatory and seeing all of the unique plants, as well as going to the top of the water tower for great views of the city and mountains!

And that’s a wrap on our 5 favorite neighborhoods in Seattle! We absolutely love this city and the little areas that make it special. Now that you have a list of many of Seattle’s neighborhood gems, it’s time to get exploring. Which spot will you head to first?

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About Us

We’re Adam and Kathryn, an adventurous married couple living in Seattle. You can often find us driving all around the PNW on the weekends, cuddling our fur child Kona, scoping out the best coffee shops, eating tacos, climbing mountains, and dreaming about Hawaii. Our goal is to make travel planning easier for others by blogging about our adventures and creating free travel guides for the cities we visit. Come explore with us at Adventures of A+K!

 

 

This blog series features 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!

Greetings from Austin

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Candace Perry

Austin, Texas is known for The Longhorns, barbeque, and being the Live Music Capital of the World. It boast great events like South by Southwest (SXSW) and Austin City Limits (ACL), but Austin has so much more to offer.

We were in Austin for my daughter’s birthday this year, so we decided to visit a few of its well known places. We have lived in Austin for 4 years, but had never checked out these sights.

The first place we wanted to see was the Greetings from Austin mural, so we headed downtown to the corner of South First and Annie Street.  The kids enjoyed looking at the details of the mural and getting their picture in front of it. The mural was originally painted in 1998 by local artist and business owner Todd Sanders, and was restored in the fall of 2013. Today, it is one of the most recognizable images associated with the city. 

Austin Mural

Next we went to a place where you can be the artist, The Graffiti Wall. Sadly this installation will be moving to make way for condos, but it was definitely a part of the Keep Austin Weird movement, and a great way for people to express themselves. There are so many talented people in this world and it was amazing to see all of the unique beautiful art created with just a can of spray paint. The birthday girl even found a painting that had been created and dated that day. 

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Zilker Park is 350 acre park in the middle of Austin. We were there just for the playground, which was pretty spectacular, but it also has a naturally formed Barton Springs swimming hole, a mini train, disc golf, soccer fields and great green spaces just to hang out. The kids had a blast running around to the different playground areas, including one made from a vintage fire engine.

If you want to get out and enjoy nature, in Austin, you can do that too! In the middle of the city we found a beautiful trail; River Place Nature Trail. You’ll want to get an early start if you decide to hike this trail in the summer. It warms up quick and the trees hold in the moisture, so it gets really humid. The trail was scenic, with a few small waterfalls, and the lake at the trail head was full of turtles.  We did the Panther Hollow and Little Fern Trail. From start to finish it was 2 miles, but if you add the Canyon Trail it totals about 6 miles. We weren’t quite up for that, but it is a place that we are likely to visit again.

While these places may not be the reason you come to Austin, they are fun places to check out that are family friendly that give a sense of what Austin is all about.

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Candace Perry is a crafter, blogger and mother of five, who for the last year has been traveling the United States in an RV, exploring the history and the natural wonders of the country. When she is not roaming and homeschooling her children, you will find her crocheting, sewing, and capturing family memories with her camera.

You can find her handmade crochet items at MyRedBalloonBouquet.com and you can follow her family’s journey at RainbowsAndRainBoots.com

 

 

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!

Ideas & tips for hanging artwork properly

Tip and Tricks

I don’t do art fairs often, so it’s not usual that I have the opportunity to see people interact with my artwork in person. However, last week I participated in The National Folk Festival and, while I was there, I had several people ask me for framing and sizing suggestions for artwork. So, if this is something that you have had questions about, please know that you are not alone.  Here is a quick post concerning the proper display of art, and some real-life customer photos so that you can see examples.

First things first: art ALWAYS looks better in a frame than it does alone. I cannot stress this enough! I remember when I was in college working for the on campus galleries and art would sometimes be shipped to us un-framed. Framing makes a big difference! It can take a piece of art from pretty to being the focal point of the entire room. Matting is almost as important. It helps to let the art “breathe”, giving the eye a place to rest between the art and the frame’s edge.

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photo by Etsy customer: Melissa M.

Size matters. All of the prints in my shops are “standard size”, which means that they were intentionally designed in a way so that my customers could go to any home decor shop and find the frame of their choosing- eliminating the need for costly custom framing. When a customer requests something with really unique dimensions, I take the time to explain that it may require custom framing- which isn’t an expense that I want the customer to have to endure unexpectedly.

Standard sizes for art are as follows:

  • 4×6 inches
  • 5×7 inches
  • 8×10 inches
  • 11×14 inches
  • 16×20 inches
  • 18×24 inches
  • 24×36 inches

All of the sizes listed above can be easily placed in any frame from Michael’s, Hobby Lobby, A.C Moore or any other home decor/craft retailer. For sizes larger than 11×14, pre-cut mats may not be available, so you may need to have one cut for you by the faming department. In my small town we have Hobby Lobby & Michael’s to choose from. Personally, I prefer Hobby Lobby because their services and prices are much better than Michael’s, in my opinion.

 

Go bigger than you think.

It doesn’t happen often, but occasionally I will get an exchange request for art. In those instances, it is ALWAYS for a larger size. A good way to test your wall space is to cut a piece of brown paper and use painter’s tape to place it in the spot you are intending to hang something. This will give you a very quick visual for the appropriate size art for the space.

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photo by Breanna B.

As a rule of thumb, art should be between 1/2 – 2/3 the size of the furniture you are hanging it over. I’ll never forget going to an open house with my mom and there was a 4″x6″ piece of artwork hanging over the person’s bed- in one word: WEIRD! HAHAH!!

Here is an example of this. This piece was printed in the largest size available, 18×24 inches, and it works well in this space above her washer and dryer in the laundry room. Many thanks to Abby of twistmepretty.com for allowing me to share this photo of your beautiful laundry room makeover, and for choosing my work for your lovely space!

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Photo provided by Abby of twistmepretty.com

Group art close together.

If you are hanging a gallery wall, it is important that it looks intentional. By keeping them tight in the display, you are ensuring that the grouping looks cohesive.

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photo by Kara P. IG: @hey.poindexter

Don’t feel like you have to hang in a straight horizontal line. 

Here are some examples of unique ways to hang art:

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photos by IG: @amritakauranand

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photo by Etsy customer: Grace E.

Take advantage of small spaces.

You do not need to hang art on your largest walls- sometimes the little corners of your home can be the most interesting ones. Don’t forget about them!

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Well, that wraps it up. Applying these simple tips can help you to design your rooms in an even more beautiful way.

Feel free to take a look at my Pinterest board here for some really fun display ideas. There is lots of practical information online about how to hang art- so, have fun! Also, if you are hanging original watercolor art, you need to follow some basic rules to ensure that your art can be enjoyed for many years to come. Please check out this post for most information on that.

Thank you so much to everyone that allowed me to share photos. I love seeing all of the creative ways that you have displayed your art.

Hope this helps, but please feel free to reach out to me if you have any specific questions. You can always send me an email right thru the homepage on my website here: rachelalvarezart.com

Have a beautiful day!

Rachel

 

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National Folk Festival 2018 in Salisbury, MD.

My Story.

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This year, my hometown of Salisbury, MD was privileged to host the 78th annual National Folk Festival. As one of the 23 selected tri-state artisans for the Festival Marketplace, I had the unique opportunity to showcase my work during this amazing event. And, although the three days presented major weather problems and huge logistical feats for our small town, in my opinion it could not have gone any better than it did.

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According to the festival’s website, “Since it was first presented in St. Louis in 1934, the National has celebrated the roots, richness, and variety of American culture…. Some of the artists presented at the first festival are now legendary and the recordings and other documentation made possible by the National are precious. “Father of the Blues” W.C. Handy’s first performance on a desegregated stage was at the 1938 National. It was also the first to present to the public musical forms such as the blues, Cajun music, polka bands, Tex-Mex conjunto, Peking Opera, and many others.”

7 music stages, placed strategically along our downtown’s streets, gave people the opportunity to come together to hear some really incredible performances covering all genres. There were street performers, good eats and local cultural activities.

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Yesterday, I received a phone call from a reporter at The Daily Times of Salisbury. She wanted to ask me a few questions about my experience as a vendor, and to see if I had any suggestions on how things could be improved for the 2019 & 2020 Folk Festivals. I told her that I could not think of literally one thing that I would’ve changed about the festival itself. In my opinion, Salisbury really rose to the occasion and gave our community (and those beyond) a weekend FULL of memories and fellowship. Perhaps the only minor detail that could be addressed going forward would be to make it more clear that the artisans that were selected were LOCAL to Maryland and the Delmarva Peninsula, and not traveling in with the musicians. I cannot tell you how many people were truly surprised when I mentioned that I live & work just about a mile from the festival grounds.

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Here are some of my favorite moments of my experience at the Festival Marketplace (and, I am sure that I could think of many, many more.)

  • seeing our entire community gathered together on common ground- in spite of cold, rainy conditions.
  • the overwhelming sense of community in the artisan tent amongst the other vendors that were participating. (and getting to meet some artists in person that I have respected for a very, very long time.)
  • having the opportunity to show my children (ages 3&5) each of the other artisan’s work in my tent, and explaining why I respect how they work with their hands.
  • being encouraged in person by people that have been following my work online, and hearing their stories of how they had initially found out about it.
  • spending quality time with my parents and husband as they helped out in the booth.
  • having the opportunity to encourage young artists who are either currently majoring in art at Salisbury University (my alma mater, too) or in high school taking art classes.
  • helping a Nicaraguan artist to learn how to make prints of his work so that he could ship them home to his family.
  • running into almost every person I have ever met in 23 years of living here.
  • hearing people’s unique stories about their travels (after they asked about the U.S watercolor map shown on my booth banner)
  • feeling a deep sense of pride to call Salisbury my hometown.

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So, to sum it all up, The National Folk Festival far exceeded my expectations. And, although it’s almost a year away, I am definitely day-dreaming about my application & art booth for 2019. Please make your plans to be there next year. You will not regret it (even if you need to bring rain boots and a poncho.)

Thank you, Salisbury, for allowing me to participate in my first-ever major art fair. If this is what soggy and windy feels like, I can’t wait for 80 and sunny.

Sincerely,

Rachel Alvarez of Rachel Alvarez Art 

**funny side note, during the weekend I went to get a mint out of my backpack. I opened my altoids tin only to realize that I had accidentally brought my homemade mini watercolor palette instead. ha! #artistproblems

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Photos by local Salisbury photographer, Manda Weaver

 

 

 

Visiting Abilene, KS. “Best Small Town To Visit” by Smithsonian Magazine

50 state stickers blog series

Written by guest blogger: Kaitlyn Black

While Kansas is well known for the Wizard of Oz, there are so many hidden gems among the state that you’re sure to miss if you don’t venture off I-70 on your way through. Just 45 minutes to the west of the gorgeous Flint Hills is the little town of Abilene, named “Best Small Town To Visit” by Smithsonian Magazine.

Hometown of Dwight D Eisenhower, 34th President of the United States, you can tour the Eisenhower museum and see his childhood home while learning all about the history of Ike.

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The Heritage Center is home to the C.W. Parker Carousel built in 1901 that is still in operation today and the Museum of Independent Telephony explaining how the Sprint Company got its start in the little town of Abilene.

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The Seelye Mansion is beautiful to tour, especially when it is all decked out in Christmas décor. Dr. A.B. Seelye made his fortune in patent medicine, which he in turn purchased the furnishings of the house at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair, including a bowling alley in the basement.

Take a tour around Old Abilene Town while you’re down there and check out all of the old buildings that have been moved in from around the county, learn about the history of them and take photos while you’re there.

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You can pet live greyhounds at the Greyhound Hall of Fame and learn about the history of the breed, or venture downtown and visit one of the many antique shops that line the streets. While you’re downtown, stop in at Amanda’s Bakery for lunch, and be sure to get one of their amazing scones while you’re there, too.

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Once you’ve visited the Jeffcoat Photography Studio Museum and viewed the history of Dickinson County the three generations of photographers have preserved, you can relax on the Abilene and Smoky Valley Railroad Association dinner train, which has catered meals by The Brookville Hotel on certain evenings. The Brookville Hotel is one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas and has been serving family style chicken dinners for over 100 years.

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“Hi there! My name is Kaitlyn and I own Lazy KT Designs, LLC. Currently located in Solomon, KS, where I grew up.

With my business Lazy KT Designs, LLC, I turn your artwork and photos into unique gifts and keepsakes by printing them on interesting and unusual surfaces such as slates, cutting boards, cake pans, coasters and mugs, so that you can give or receive something to be treasured. More often than not, I can be found printing with my Australian Shepherds Annah and Cedar and German Shorthair Trigger close by.”

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!