How did this book lead to a chance encounter with a fellow artist...in an airport gift kiosk, no less? Only in Key West, my friends!
And how did this chance encounter lead to my bringing home this print...signed on the spot by the artist himself? Or was he a clever imposter? And if so, why would he give away this print instead of attempting to pry the few remaining vacation dollars from my purse?
Let's backtrack a bit...
One of the highlights of my five days in Key West, aside from the beaches, of course, was a morning spent with a delightfully knowledgeable tour guide at the home of Ernest Hemingway. Her admiration for the man and his literary legacy were obvious and her meticulous attention to preserving his memory left me curious to know more. But, as is bound to happen when on vacation with friends, beaches and sunset cruises intervened, and scholarly pursuits were abandoned.
And then departure day arrived...
Let to my own devices after the earlier departures of my two friends, I wandered into the "Last Call Beach Bar" in the hopes of finding at least a magazine rack or newspaper stand for a little reading material to pass the time. Sure enough, around the corner and behind that soda vending machine, was a very small "Last Chance Souvenir Shop". I quickly spotted the bright red cover of "Hemingway's Key West", and walked over to see if this might suffice. As I was fanning the pages to determine whether to make the purchase, a gentleman dressed very casually in Key West style walked over and asked if I wanted to purchase the book.
Not ready to make a commitment, I responded by saying that I had found the tour fascinating and considered it one of the highlights of my stay because of the very engaging tour guide. Turned out that he knew her and that she was considered one of the best tour guides on the island...and here is where my encounter with the mystery artist really begins!
Our friendly conversation continued for a bit, as I had plenty of time until my flight, and as we chatted about my work at home as an art teacher and occasional artist, I noticed a small, hand-lettered sign..."Free print with any purchase". Of course, I was curious and upon asking was presented with this rather interesting print. The man assured me that it was signed by the artist, Michelle Kennedy, since he knew her personally.
Although this artist's style is not quite my taste, I thanked him and he began to roll the print to put it in a tube. Suddenly he stopped, turned to a rack with much larger prints, and said to me, "I think I have a print from the Hemingway House. Would you like to have it, too?" I was pretty certain that a sales pitch was forthcoming, but instead, the man pulled out several prints of watercolor paintings highlighting Key West landmarks. None proved to be of the Hemingway House, and he seemed a bit disappointed, but he turned to me and said, "You teach art...I'd like you to have one of these." Surprised, I chose this one of the oldest house on Key West.
"He smiled, confirmed my choice by saying, "Nice one, I believe", then proceeded to pick up a pencil, saying "This one's not signed," and quickly wrote a name in the corner of the border. He wrapped it up and handed it to me with a smile, and before I could say another word, wished me safe travels, spread the curtains behind the table with the cash box, and said, "Guess I'll get back to work now." Behind the curtains, I saw an easel with a partially completed painting, a watercolor paint box, and several brushes.
Had I met the artist...or just another interesting Key West character? Now I needed to find out who is he really was. Was he an unknown "wanna be" working at the airport kiosk to support a simple Key West lifestyle? Or was he someone more...someone who preferred a simpler life and a chance to meet people just for the fun of it?
As it was, I had a long day of travel ahead, with long layovers in two different airports. Plenty of time for a little research on the name "Kennedy" and any possible connections to Key West. And midway through a two+ hour stay in the Tampa airport, I found this link www.kennedystudios.net/index.php/robert-e-kennedy/florida/key-west.html. Robert Kennedy (no apparent relation to the famous Kennedy family in Massachusetts!) is indeed a watercolor artist with a gallery in Key West and several others up and down the East Coast. Although I couldn't find a reference to the print I was given on any of his gallery sites, the similarity was obvious...so I will always believe that I did, indeed, meet the artist in an airport gift shop kiosk!
What's not to love about Key West? Warm sunshine, clear waters, soft sand...and all the action on Duval Street in the evening! Not to mention those amazing sunsets over the calm water of the the Gulf of Mexico...best observed while sipping an exotic adult beverage on the Pier or while on a sunset music cruise!
After a wonderful five day stay at Bahama House with two of my very best friends, it was time to head back to landlocked Ohio. Since we had met up in Fort Lauderdale and driven the Keys to our destination, I had no prior experience with Key West International Airport. I knew it would be small, but I had no idea what an artistic treat it was going to be for this art loving traveler! From the time I entered the lobby to check in with Spirit Airlines until I reached my departure gate, I was delighted by artwork everywhere I looked! All of it was amazing, but I think my favorites were the photo-realistic wall paintings tucked into unexpected corners. And who would have thought...Key West International has the ONLY airport beach in the world! Check it out in the slideshow below!
This was a fabulous vacation for an art loving traveler, but there's more to come! In my next post, I'll fill you in on my art filled day at the Hemingway House and a chance meeting with a local artist...one more lovely surprise at Key West International Airport!
Summer time means travel time for those of us fortunate enough to have those long weeks of summer to look forward to after a hectic ten month school year! This year, my travels took me through several airports and involved some lengthy wait times between flights. Luckily, two of these airports featured some interesting artwork to keep me from boredom...or too much time wandering Facebook and Instagram.
Stop #1 was a stay at Atlanta's Hartsfield International on my way to Key West, Florida...
After a wonderful five days in lovely Key West, it was time to return home...more inspiring airport art time from stop #2, Key West, in my next post!
During those final, endless weeks of the school year, just when I needed it most, got a subscription email from Bonnie Glendinning of ThrivingArtistAcademy.com inviting me to join a closed Facebook group called The Artists' Mentor and to check out one of the photography courses that was being offered. The course, titled The Present Perfect, was a short seven day exploration of Mindfulness, using photography as a tool.
Even though May is one of the busiest months of my school year, the thought of taking a few minutes a day for seven days to do something for my own artistic soul, was very appealing. So I signed up, followed through, and loved every bit of the experience! Jen Kiaba, professional photographer, educator, and digital marketer, not only presented new ways to explore photography as an expressive art form, she also provided helpful, encouraging comments on every post made by one of her students.
I must say that learning the ins and outs of any new digital device is always an adventure! Not all my apps and links want to play nice yet, and some passwords are refusing to let me make changes, but overall I think I am going to really like creating art on my new iPadPro. Here are a few of my first adventures into digital lettering.
"Brushing up" on my long-neglected calligraphy skills has been great fun since I discovered @randomolive, thanks to a class with April Bowles-Owen on Creative Live last October. Before then, I knew nothing about brush lettering, although I had been doing pen and ink calligraphy off and on since high school art class. The April challenge of 30 baseball related words really caught my interest since my grandson is now playing tee ball!
The countdown to summer has begun in my head, even though there are still five very busy weeks left in the school year for me. I recently acquired a gorgeous selection of stones from Dakota Stones and am spending as much time as possible building my Sand and Surf summer collection for my Etsy shop. Right now, I have listings for stretch stacking bracelets, but I have plans to add earrings and other bracelet styles in the coming weeks. Check back often and follow me on Instagram to get all the latest updates!
February 21...Day #52 of 2016...the year with the #oneword365 goal of SIMPLICITY.
Time for a reality check!
Since my last post, I have taken on no fewer than three, yes THREE, web-based art challenges!
CHALLENGE #1: One Little Tag Craft Challenge
What is it? A Facebook group for people who want a daily dose of creativity on a small scale...specifically a little hang tag, like you might put on a shipping box. You make a tag each day (or week, or month...whatever works!) and post it to the FB page for all to see.
Who is doing this? Hosted by blogger Jenny Barnett Rohrs, mastermind behind Craft Test Dummies, this FB page has over 300 participants, although only a few seem to post regularly. Lots of scrapbooking, stamping, and mixed media fans seems to be on board with this challenge. Every few weeks, Jenny writes a post or shares a video with some new twist to the challenge, just to keep it interesting. After all, this is a full year challenge!
CHALLENGE #2: Brush Letter Practice Challenge
What is it? A really fun way to add to my calligraphy skills! I've been doing traditional pen calligraphy since high school art classes, back in the pre-internet dark ages. Instead of a stiff pen and India ink, you use a soft, flowing brush and watercolors.
Who is doing this? The work of Olivia, who goes by Random Olive, first caught my eye when she was a participant in a Creative Live class I was taking last October. I liked her style, so I checked out her website, Instagram, and YouTube videos to learn more about brush lettering.
How does it work? Each month, Olivia posts a list of words with a theme. December was all about yummy holiday cookies, January was a list of inspirational words, and February is definitely my favorite so far...flowers...hint of spring to come! Olive also offers great practice sheets that you can download each month to help with learning the brush strokes. My skills have improved just enough to give me the confidence to occasionally post a sample on Instagram at #brushletterpracticechallenge, although I have a long way to go!
One plus, though is being able to combine challenges. I've used brush lettering with iPad drawings on some of my tags for the One Little Tag Craft Challenge. A little bit of simplifying!
CHALLENGE #3: #28tomake with Creative Live
When I got the email from Creative Live, offering a free 28-day drawing challenge, I couldn't resist! Each morning brings a new email video with a prompt for the days' creative challenge. These are quick, no more than 20-30 minutes, which is perfect. I've even been able to do a few of them during my lunch break at school, and one of them, the tangram challenge, became a lesson plan for my first grade classes this week! The best part of this challenge is going to Instagram to see all the amazingly creative problem solvers posting their responses.
Will you join me?