Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ms. Camilla's Neighborhood

Ms. Camilla's Neighborhood is a series of  portraits featuring friends, friends of friends, neighbors and co-workers near and far.  Each 8X10 acrylic painting is created from a photograph and items representing each person are incorporated into the background with loving care. Each painting is $185.00 and comes with a free coloring sheet as the painting's companion. 

Please contact Camilla at to commission your portrait or a portrait for someone you know. 

Living in East Nashville and teaching k-4 art at Lockeland Design Center inspires Camilla Spadafino’s art which mostly centers on the theme of “community.” Studies show that being a member of a community is essential for our health and happiness. Camilla’s most recent project is bringing her a great deal of happiness because it is inspired by community members near and far.

The idea for “Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood” began during the 2012 Tomato Art Festival when she spotted her friend Katy in a most fabulous flower hat. Camilla snapped Katy’s photo on the spot and declared that she would create “Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood” and paint the portrait of every single person that lived in the East Nashville. Once the project began, however, Camilla realized that neighborhoods do not stop at zip codes or the end around the block but reach far and wide. Communities are no longer limited to bricks and mortar but include technology where we can connect with virtually anyone nearly anywhere in the world. Still, nothing takes the place of the human touch and although each portrait in “Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood” begins with a photo taken with an i phone and they end with a hand drawn and hand painted portrait that is as unique as each person in the neighborhood.

Commissioned portraits start at $185.00 for an 8”X10” acrylic painting on canvas. Each commissioned portrait includes a free companion coloring sheet and will join the rest of the neighbors on the “Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood” Facebook page. Some of the coloring pages will be compiled into a coloring book that will be for sale at a later date.

To commission your portrait contact Camilla

Via email:

Facebook: Ms. Camilla’s Neighborhood

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Artist in Residence at Lockeland

“Artists in Residence Bring Life, Love and Learning to an East Nashville K-4 Art Program”
The saying "It takes a village to raise a child” is more than a cliché; it is the thinking behind several East Nashville parents who are part of the Artists in Residency Program at Lockeland Design Center. Lockeland is a K-4 Metro Nashville magnet school located at the end of Woodland Street within walking distance of the galleries and restaurants there. As the art teacher at Lockeland, I like to think of it as the “heART” of the neighborhood. Many people have assumed that the "design" part of our name is related to our community based art program. However, our school's name came about when Metro Nashville Public Schools was making a shift in what it called magnet schools and used the term "design" to refer to the theme of a school, which in our case is language and literature. Lockeland is known for its quality collaborations between teachers, the principal, and involved parents. Parental support is a plus for any school but it also brings a set of challenges. Lockeland presented its own unique set of gifts and challenges when I moved from a regular classroom of 20 students to teaching over 300 students in the art room.

When I began the job as Lockeland’s art teacher in 2008 there was only a few hundred dollars in the art budget. Despite the lack of funding it was clear that ART was already a huge part of the school culture. The art teacher before me, Adrian Watts-Driscoll, had collaborated with Plowhouse and their artist cooperative the previous year as a fundraiser. The Plowhouse show was a huge success and the entire community loved it. Seeing it was part of my attraction to applying for a job there and enrolling my own children in the school. I first got a job as a third grade teacher at Lockeland. After two years of third grade I transitioned into the art teacher position and knew that I had big shoes to fill. I was excited and overwhelmed anticipating the community of creative people that was going to expect me to provide an excellent art program for their children. I also realized that I was going to need to create my own sources of funding while keeping the community engaged.

Another challenge I faced was how to keep Lockeland’s art program involved with the community while learning the ropes as a brand new art teacher. I thought I would be prepared as I had just received my art endorsement from Belmont, had a background rich in art experiences, and possessed 9 years of classroom experience. Yet, I had no experience as an art teacher. In fact, I had never seen an art classroom in action before. I didn't even know how to turn on the kiln much less know what supplies I would need to order, where to order them from, or what quantities would be needed. I quickly saw there was more than I had ever imagined involved with the planning, implementation, and keeping the inventory of art supplies to facilitate the art education of over 300 students. On top of these components of the job there was also the daily task of record keeping, assessing, emailing, parent communication and so much more.

The first year of teaching art was as exciting as it was exhausting; frankly, I often wanted to quit. Thankfully it was the artistic parents at Lockeland who showed me the way. Many of them were part of an East Nashville neighborhood artist group I founded called The Collective Muse. These artistic friends also had children who were classmates of my own children at Lockeland. During that time The Collective Muse was meeting regularly to inspire and support each other in making art. While we were gathered around the table at night, making art together, we would talk about our children and what they were doing at school. It was from those late night art meetings that meaningful school collaborations began to form.

At first the collaborations were about the sharing of ideas and techniques for things I could do in the art room. But soon these conversations turned into parents coming into the classroom to roll up their sleeves with me. Pretty soon what I called the Guest Artist Program was born. Each parent was sharing their own unique twist on teaching art with the children. It was a very fun and playful time with mostly spontaneous visits from the parents. This process was very enjoyable and I wanted more because I could see the positive influence it was having not only on the children but the adults who were helping and our community as a whole. We could all feel the spirit of art growing in our school and spreading out into the neighborhood.

Art began to burst out of the walls of our school and into the surrounding community. Art was being created naturally and spontaneously; for example one parent brought in several large wooden shapes left over from a set he was building. Another parent proclaimed they looked like Alexander Calder shapes and a full community collaboration to create a large scale wooden mobile began. Rob Hollett acted as the Guest Artist for the Lockeland Student Art Club which designed and stained the mobile. Rob created the metal joining pieces through blacksmithing. The Collective Muse, particularly Michelle Fuqua's engineering skills and David Harper's architectural skills, helped bring the project to life. The team effort was made complete by Alex Sigg who figured out a method for hanging the mobile and got the job done. Everyone was amazed to see the mobile as it swayed and danced in the large maple tree on our campus. I felt as though it was a visual celebration of the parent partnerships in art at Lockeland. I loved taking groups of students out to examine it and was thrilled see passing cars slowing to admire it.

The following year, I set a goal to find a Guest Artist for each class in my school. During the first couple of years it was difficult to find a Guest Artist for all 15 classes. Some parents took double duty and then with a leap of faith I decided to reach out into the community and ask established artist from the Greater Nashville Community if they would volunteer their time. Working artists like Andee Rudloff, Cindy Wunch, Jodi Reeves, Shelia Smith, Robert Edwards, and Beth Inglish rolled up their sleeves and volunteered their time in and out of the classroom. These guest artists created such beautiful things as a mosaic table, a giant Picasso inspired totem pole, fused glass pieces and so much more. These pieces were auctioned to raise money for the art program and many can still be seen in the community.

Riverside Village was our community partner for three years. Each business helped host our annual Art Show by featuring the work of our students and the Guest Artist who inspired them. At various points in time, art has been displayed at a myriad of East Nashville businesses, including Art and Invention Gallery, Bongo Java, Pizza Real, Pied Piper Ice Creamery, and Eastside Cycles. The creative spirit spread so fast that more and more parents came forward offering their assistance. This left me with the wonderful problem of figuring out how to manage all the parent help and community involvement. The art room is a physically demanding place spent on your feet working with students. There is very little desk time and even less phone time, so coordinating the Guest Artists requires tremendous finesse. In the business world this problem would be solved by hiring an assistant. But as a public school art teacher I have learned to be creative while keeping good boundaries for my own personal time and time needed with my family.

Since I knew hiring an assistant was not realistic I figured I would need to find some balance and creativity to keep the Guest Artist program manageable. This past year I decided that I would try having our annual art show inside of our building and make connections with music, movement and the Spanish culture. Thankfully the special area teachers not only agreed but pitched into help along with the support of the PTO as well. This helped me to take a step back from displaying art all over the community and focus on our children and our school building. It made things more manageable for the Guest Artists and brightened the walls of our school. The children loved it and I was able to take each class on an in-school field trip to tour our "art museum.” I was still able to work outside the school walls and get the children’s art into the community. One notable collaboration was between Lindsey Bailey and a second grade class from Lockeland. Their collaboration was a featured exhibit at the Metro Art Commission. We had another successful collaboration with Craftville and Maggiano’s Italian Restaurant.

Once we were settled in a more manageable space for showcasing student works I was able to make a goal for each of the artists to be a parent of a student at Lockeland which made communication and planning lessons much more streamlined. Some new parents were reluctant at first; many of them even struggling with calling themselves an artist. It has been very rewarding to support these parents as they test the waters of their own identity as artists. Parents who thought of themselves as crafters or simply as being creative got to try on the label of "artist" and found that they liked it! Teaching the parents who then pass on the lesson to their children is of great value to an art program. It is a powerful way of showing that art is in everyone and in everything. By affiliating parents with the art program it demystifies what art is and makes it accessible to everyone.

This year when I got my student list, I marked the names of parents who have traditionally been Guest Artists for their children's classes. I was delighted to see that there were two or three parent artists in most of the classes. At one time the artistic parents and community members felt like guests helping in the art room, but a new shift has come this year. There are no longer “Guest Artists” visiting in our school, they are residents of our community are working along beside me. The 2012-2013 school year marks the evolution from what was formally known as “Lockeland’s Guest Art Program” to what is now “Lockeland’s Artists in Residency Program.” There are no more guests; now we are clearly all in it together.

Today I am a satisfied art teacher who is enjoying the abundance of community support found in East Nashville. It has taken six years for me and the community to evolve into our Artist in Residency Program that flows fairly naturally. I can do this because of the relationships I have cultivated over these years that are built on trust. It is because of this trust and support that I have a tremendous amount of motivation to continue even though it can at times be challenging. There are times when it feels overwhelming but the love I have for the community overrides any discomfort I may feel. Creative, healthy neighborhoods nurture families who nurture children who come to school and become even more nurtured by the loving community of teachers and artists. Through a community based art program Lockeland has become a mirror reflecting the amazing creativity of East Nashville. I feel honored to be the art teacher holding the handle of that beautiful mirror. It is a gift to watch the light of the East Nashville creative community shine on everyone and everything in and around Lockeland Design Center.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tomato Art Fest 2012

The top two framed pieces are a collaboration between Beth Inglish and me.  We each took a canvas and painted the background and then switched and collaged atop each others painting.  We met up and selected matching frames to complete our pieces.  To- may -to  and To -mah - to,    9"X15"  mixed media on canvas 

This pieces began as a photo on my camera phone.  I snapped it when sitting across from three beautiful friends on a sofa.  I originally intended to paint a realistic portrait of them because they all looked so gorgeous.  Later in the process I found some Matisse inspired fabric which inspired me with the rich colors and patterns.
Love Apples for Matisse,  acrylic on canvas 

Thanks to the help of John Donovan and his shared glazes and kiln my first series of hand built pottery designed to sell made it to the show. I've spent years working with children in clay and made a series for my own collection but have never set about thinking of creating pieces out of clay for others to buy and enjoy.  I enjoy hand building because most pottery that you see for sale and for utiltairan use is wheel thrown.  I love the way this feel in your hands, they feel like hands made them.  Tomato Mugs, clay 

This demure pitcher and mug set are perfect for any special drink, espcially Bloody Mary's
Pitcher and Mug Set, clay  

This collaborate mirror was created by each artist drawing a name of a fruit or vegetable out of a hat. Then each of us set about the effort of creating our word on these mini 5"X5" canvases. A big THANK YOU for Linnea Cappellino and Frame East for putting this together with the mirror and frame.  The proceeds from the sale of this mirror go to Craftville.  Mirror Mirror,  mixed media collage with mirror 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

New Work for June 2012

"The Peony's Medicine" 
Camilla Spadafino

24" x 48" mixed media, acrylic paint, handmade paper, found materials on canvas

Click Here to Purchase 

Georgia O'Keeffe is the central inspiration for this piece. I was teaching abstract and observational painting to my K-4 students at Lockeland Design Center and stumbled upon the idea of using O'Keeffe's  works as an example of both.  Through teaching about Georgia O'Keeffe's life and work I became incredibly moved by her story. 

I carried away three main ideas that are reflected in this piece: 

*look deeply inside: your spirit and nature

*be yourself:  don't try to be like or paint like anyone else

*get still and quiet

close up view of "The Peony's Medicine" 
I began the process for this piece by noticing flowers blooming on my early morning walks this spring.  When I saw the peony's blooming I slowed down and gently pulled their petals back and was struck to the quick of my Being by the beauty I found there. I took several photos of the peonies and was astounded by the beauty my simple i phone was able to capture.  I used this one as the inspiration for "The Peony's Medicine." 

inspiration photo for "The Peony's Medicine" by Camilla Spadafino with iPhone camera
First, I created a blind contour drawing with a black ink pen onto the freshly gessoed canvas. Using a glazing medium and acrylic paint I began building up the layers of color  back ground and working my way from the petals to the center of the flower.  At that point a very intuitive process began of finding various materials including handmade papers, chinese papers,  photos and stickers.  All materials were applied with matte medium for archival purposes. Finally layers of paint were often added over the papers and fine details applied. 

The title "Peony's Medicine" is derived from a special meditation from my women's group.  The focus for the month of June has been plants and the various medicines they contain for physical, emotional, and spiritual healing. The peony's medicine contains magic that brings the mind,body and spirit alive to embody beauty deep within our souls.

Nashville Arts - Teacher Spotlight for June 2012

Click here for links to Nashville Arts Magazine

Teacher Spotlight: Camilla Spadafino

by DeeGee Lester, Education Director, The Parthenon

Camilla Spadafino, K–4 art teacher at Lockeland Elementary Design Center, initially resisted then yielded to the time-honored advice follow your passion. “For a long time, everyone told me that I should be an art teacher, and I would say that I was afraid to teach the thing I love the most because it might saturate my day with art, causing me not to enjoy it. My fears were in vain. Teaching has transformed me and has taught me how to be an open, expressive, and inspired artist.”
Tapping into the energy and uninhibited imaginations of elementary students, Spadafino grasps the true meaning behind Pablo Picasso’s quote, “It took me years to learn to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.” Spadafino appreciates her students’ lack of censors as well as their freedom to express themselves. “It’s a total gift, and I’m honored to be privy to that.”
Camilla Spadafino and her class
That honor is expanded as she regularly invites other East Nashville artists to share the experience. “Lockeland is unique, truly an East Nashville school,” she says. “Many of our students live close enough to walk to school. I am grateful to be in a community where arts are nurtured and respected.”
Many of the parents and neighbors are artists who donate their time and expertise to her classes. From Herb Williams’s 3-D crayon sculptures and Andee Rudloff’s murals to Cindy Wunsch’s poetic art and text or Lindsey Bailey’s partnering with second graders, they and other talented volunteers go beyond just showing up for a class. These talented individuals make a big investment in the process—meeting and brainstorming, learning how to plan a teaching unit and how to design activities that are age-appropriate.
Spadafino says that these volunteers inspire her as well as the students. She carries many of the ideas and techniques she learns into her after-school art programs for area middle school students or into an arts-methods class at Vanderbilt where she has introduced classroom teachers to ways to incorporate art into their subject areas.
“Several years ago at a Brain-Based Education Conference in San Francisco, I was taught that all learning is is remembering. The more senses you use when remembering, the deeper the memory,” Spadafino says. “I feel that art classes are about more than art. Students learn how to navigate through life, how to listen to their own intuition as a person and an artist. It’s a huge responsibility. Art is a reflection of who you are. I get to see all of that unfold, and it’s magical.”
See works by Spadafino’s students at the Metro Nashville Arts Gallery in Imagination & Collaboration, a Boys and Girls Club. The exhibit is the result of a collaboration between Lockeland students and artist Lindsey Bailey and will be on view through August 3.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

Inspiring Famous Artist for 4th Grade Graduation Program

Tears fall each year when the 4th graders graduate from Lockeland. It has become a tradition to help ease that transistion through an amazing graduation program that features the work that fourth grade clubs have done throughout the year. Each student choose a special interest at the beginning of the year and one of the special area teachers led that club.  My "Art Club" focused on working with businesses this year.  Craftville helped the students design, market and sell their own line of crafts.  Maggiano's sponsored a Children's Menu Contest and included the students in a marketing/designing meeting to get them started.  Both of these organizations visited our classroom many times through out the year and gave a great amount of assistance to the students.  To wrap up the year and celebrate through the Fourth Grade Graduation, the students voted to dress up as their favorite artist and deliver a dramatic first person monologue.  The power point above was created to support the students' messages with examples of each artists work and quotations that helped deliver some inspiring words about the artist.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Guest Artist: Hosanna Banks, Mrs. Martin's 4th Grade Class

Memories of Lockeland Mobiles
Thank You Guest Artist, Hosanna Banks 

Guest Artist: Jill Block, Ms. Sharp's 4th Grade Class

Dream Green Recycled Self Portrait Showing Our Healthy Selves
Thank You Guest Artist, Jill Block 

Guest Artist: Jan Hatleberg, Mrs. McCulley's 4th Grade Class

Endangered Animal Prints Mounted on Recycled Papers
Thank you Guest Artist, Jan Hatleberg

Guest Artist: Jonnie Downs, Mr. Todd's 3rd Grade Class

Embossing on Recycled Cans with Recycled Cardboard Frames
Thank You Guest Artist, Jonnie Downs 

Guest Artist: Mike Gallagher, Mr. Todd's 3rd Grade

Dream Green Water Color Paintings of Lockeland's Future
Thank You Guest Artist, Mike Gallagher 

Guest Artist: Michelle Fuqua, Mrs. Hayes' 3rd Grade Class

Crushed Can Art with Acrylic Paint 
Thank you Guest Artist, Michelle Fuqua