Health & Happiness

Like many people, we routinely make New Year’s resolutions to "find more balance" or “live in the present” only to find they are not as easily attainable as we'd hope. They are often interrupted by daily life, to-do lists, or bumps in the road, and before we realize it, we feel overwhelmed and confused.

When we opened our studio, we knew our work-life balance was about to shift but we did not realize how significantly.  A few months into our new careers as owner-operators, we were both spending the majority of our time at the studio or thinking about and working on Little Art House.  Don’t get us wrong, we love what we do, and wouldn't trade it for the world, which is why it was so easy to just defer to Little Art House all day every day. During the holidays, we both realized we needed to bring some balance back into our days. This is why we have welcomed more members into our Little Art House family and connected with other like-minded individuals running businesses that believe in the same core values.

As we were making decisions on how best to utilize our studio space and time, Ashley Ray from Habitat Yoga attended an adult class with her family.  We realized we knew her from previous summer camps at USN, and we decided we needed to work together in some capacity. We saw an opportunity to expand and offer a great addition to well-rounded healthy living.

Art is a great outlet for personal reflection, understanding and growth.  Now, we are so excited to offer a mind-body opportunity to support these same goals as well!  In an effort to help our community be well-balanced, we can’t wait to co-host Yoga & Art in the Park with Habitat Yoga!  Join us as we practice our yogi skills and then create a fun art project to kick off what is sure to be a gorgeous weekend.  We’ll be at Fannie Mae Dees Park (Dragon Park), 2400 Blakemore Avenue, on March 23rd, 4:30-6pm with Yoga 4:30-5:15 and Art Making 5:15-6pm.  We hope to see you there!

We Heart Creative Communities!

Want to know a secret? There have been years where neither one of us has picked up a paintbrush to paint for pleasure.  As owners of an art studio, one would think we could carve out time to create but life gets busy, it’s too hard, the dog ate my paintbrush, etc.  The list goes on with reasons and excuses as to why we have taken hiatuses.

It is challenging to put time aside to create and even more challenging to save the brain space for it, which is why creating within a community is so important.  Our classes, for both children and adults, have reminded us about the power of support.  Watching others imagine, explore, and create in our space has become an inspiration for us.  It is amazing to see what happens in our classes, and the encouragement our students provide each other.  

The routine is admirable and make us so happy to see.  Artists of all ages consistently choose to come create with us, and part of what drives that desire is seeing their artist friends in class.  We have watched friendships develop and participated in wonderful conversations that might not have happened if the class wasn’t there.

Our goal is constantly to support and encourage imagination, exploration and creativity.  After teaching and participating with classes for almost a year in our new space, we have also learned how important it is to create with others for inspiration, motivation and overall camaraderie.  We hope to continue to offer a variety of classes for all of our artists to enjoy together for years to come!


Art and the Brain

Betty Edwards's book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is one of our favorites at Little Art House.  It explains how our brains and our biology works for and against us when it comes to creating art.  The introduction describes how the left side of our brains - our logical and analytical side - likes to insert opinions and corrections while the right side of our brains wants to see the whole picture and express feelings.

As we all know, we need both hemispheres working together to really dive into the creative process. But, how do we allow them to work together and not at odds?  We have to train our brains and create connections by honoring all aspects of learning.  When we ask our students, “what is the most frustrating part of making art?”, the most common answer is “it isn’t what I imagined in my head” or “it doesn’t look like I wanted it to look.”  This is one conundrum of our biology: understanding what we see versus what we think we see.

Training our eyes to see and our brain to understand - to perceive depth, color, and perspective - involves creating connections in the right hemisphere. Throughout our school years, we spend an inordinate amount of time creating connections on the left side of the brain through math, science, and literacy.  Now, there is ample evidence showing the importance of supporting the arts in connection with traditional academic subjects, and, as a result, classes are starting to blend both daily.

At Little Art House, we strive to show students how to create these connections and how to use both sides of their brains. We want our students to know that everyone struggles to make these connections and use their brains this way.  It is a common myth that art is a talent and some are born with it and others are not.  While some people may be more naturally inclined, everyone can learn how to create and make art.  If there is a desire, there is a way.  We are here to support that journey.


Little with Great Intention

The word “little” is one of the most meaningful parts of why we chose to name our studio Little Art House. We have chosen smaller locations for our classes and camps in order to create a space that feels comfortable, personal, and private like the studios in our homes.  From the room at University School of Nashville where we host summer camps, to our space on Music Row, to our amazing studio in Hillsboro Village, our goal is to always have a warm and inviting environment.

Another reason we keep “little” in mind is the difficulty of being brave in a large group.  In a smaller group, our students feel like they can imagine, explore and create with less pressure.  Small groups are equally important in order for every participant to get solid feedback and guidance from the teacher during each class.  We love getting to know our students in weekly classes as well as adult classes for a few hours.  It allows us to ensure the experience and lesson is as enjoyable as possible for each student.

These smaller groups are also perfect for bringing in artists with unique mediums or processes.  Some artists are not experienced in teaching and others practice artmaking that is quite complicated.  With smaller groups, artists can get to know those in the class and really dig into their process with each student.   It is always exciting to have artists come and share their process in our studio with adult classes!


Where It All Began

We are asked all the time how and why we started Little Art House. The short answer: every person is an artist and art enhances our lives! The longer answer involves our memories of childhood, personal school experiences, and career choices along the way.

Teaching art in Nashville public schools was an amazing experience for both of us.  Each year, we enjoyed getting to know nearly 180 students from all sorts of backgrounds and showing them all the wonderful things about art.  We also enjoyed the opportunities for our students at the inspiring art institutions we have in Nashville like Cheekwood and the Frist Center for Visual Arts.  After we both spent time teaching extracurricular art classes outside the school system that we realized Nashville was missing something: Little Art House!

Our biggest inspiration came from classes our mom used to host in the fellowship hall of a church around the corner from our house. The projects she planned were always colorful, imaginative, and fun - all characteristics of a great lesson that we try to keep in mind when we plan our lessons now. Oversized paper mache flowers we created in those classes still hang in the upstairs hallway of our childhood home, and seeing them takes us back to those early days. Over the holidays a few years ago, those flowers sparked a conversation between us and we realized Nashville had a need for classes like our mom’s: small classes with a focus on exploring, imagining, and creating where every participant can succeed. Both of us had spent years teaching in various public school classrooms and other art studios, but none of them provided the same feeling we had growing up. We knew we wanted to create a place where kids and adults alike could feel the magic we did in our mom’s classes.

Though we’re not in a house, we intentionally choose small spaces, first on Music Row and now in Hillsboro Village.  Small classes are important in order for every participant to get to work directly with the teacher.  Everyday we get so excited to plan projects with exploration and imagination in mind just like our mom planned for us. And we love finding fellow artists with similar mindsets to come and teach our adult classes.  It is such a joy to have a full schedule for artists of all ages to create in what we hope is a safe and inspiring space.

Art Making for All Ages

While we were growing up, our parents always encouraged Leighton and me to do what we love and follow our interests.  Like many kids, we changed our minds about that constantly.  Who knew exploring all the choices available to us would lead us to own and manage a business together?  

Little Art House is truly a family business: run by sisters and inspired by our mom.  Teaching is in our blood and that’s what we pursued for years while teaching art in elementary, middle, and high school classrooms.  After we both gained experience teaching art outside the classroom setting, we found a whole new way for connecting, teaching and learning within our community.  We believe that art is for everyone so our mission is to empower and educate the artist in everyone.  

Little Art House is unique because we offer consistent, personalized instruction to artists of all ages who are curious about art, and looking for opportunities to learn and be inspired.  We keep our classes small because, as Matisse says, “Creativity takes courage” and we want to honor the spirit of risk-taking to create by providing a safe, personalized space.  When we dive into the creative process by imagining, exploring, and creating, we open ourselves up to vulnerabilities and discoveries.  The creative process is praised, encouraged, and nurtured at Little Art House so we can all continue to improve our art making and problem solving skills while enjoying our creative community.