January 2017

by Cassie Stephens Art Teacher Johnson Elementary

When you get a really good idea, what do you do with it? Do you think about it endlessly? Does it stay in your daydreams or do you start to plot, plan, and imagine it coming to life?

Ms. Camilla and Cassie Stephens

East Nashville artist and art teacher Camilla Spadafino had a really good idea: to create portraits of friends, family, and pets in her neighborhood. But not just pictures that would hang in a gallery but interactive portraits that anyone could add their artistic flair to. It was then that the coloring book Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood idea came to life.

I recently had the chance to sit down with Camilla in her East Nashville home and studio. You see, I’ve been working on creating videos for my students that showcase working artists. I want them to know that art is more than just creating artwork during the short amount of time we spend in the art room each week. My dream is for them to realize that something you love to do, like creating art, can become a career. In my time with Camilla, she shared so much more.

First of all, she has a wonderful spirit. She’s warm, loving, and has the sweetest Southern accent around. While explaining her process, she talked about how she puts “magical thoughts” into her mind when creating. She spoke of art being a unifier, not a divider. She mentioned “serving the paint” but not wasting even an ounce. I realized that my students were going to take away so much more than just creating from Camilla. They were going to learn how to be a good steward to their supplies, their community, and all that through their art.

Since coming up with this idea, Camilla has published her coloring book. She’s also painted over 100 portraits of those in her neighborhood. But this isn’t the end of her ideas. Her newest one is to create a series of paint-by- number portrayals of cities across the U.S. You can find her Paint the Town by Numbers of Nashville, as well as her coloring book, on her website at www.camillaspadafinoart.com.

Now, what will you do with your idea? I was definitely inspired to stop daydreaming about mine and work toward bringing it to life. I do hope my students receive the same message from Camilla Spadafino.

The video of my time spent with Camilla can be found on my YouTube channel at Cassie Stephens.

From the Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood series

Marti Profitt-Streuli, Black ink coloring sheet, 10” x 8”

Neighborhood series Marti Profitt-Streuli, Acrylic, 10” x 8”

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