The Laughing Zebra

A Day in My Life

door in Italy with turquoise bike by it.

The Doors of Italy

What stories do they tell?

So I have always had a thing for doors and windows. Long before this trip to Italy I have gravitated towards the rigid simplicity of these entryways into people’s inner spaces. They are like the faces on a building and tell so much about the character of what’s inside. For years I have had 6 framed photos of doors from around the world hanging in my living room that I purchased from a photographer at a street fair. Their colorful presence has been a happy spot on my wall and I would often look at them and wonder about what secrets they held. Maybe that is part of the fascination for me just the mystery of what lies behind them. Mostly though I am drawn to their visual statement, the textures, colors and contrasts that they form.

For those of you who have been to Italy you know that the beautiful old buildings with their colorful doors and windows are subjects begging to be photographed. Everywhere you look there is an amazing combination of colors, textures and designs. And because of the age of many of the buildings and doors you see are a wide variety of sizes. At some of the places we were staying in particular the buildings had these huge doors that made you feel like you were entering into a magical story set back in time. The Airbnb we stayed at in Florence used to be the servants quarters for the Medici family. Each time we walked through those doors I could feel the history rushing towards me.

The Amalfi Cathedral in Amalfi city had this incredible huge green door. I felt like I was in the Land of the Giants. Then there were the doors of the Baptistry in Florence that are major works of art. The Baptistery is renowned for its three sets of artistically important bronze doors with relief sculptures. The south doors were created by Andrea Pisano and the north and east doors by Lorenzo Ghiberti. Michelangelo dubbed the east doors the Gates of Paradise. When you stand before these magnificent golden doors you can totally see why he said that.

But my favorite doors were the ones we stumbled upon in our miles of walking, whether it was in a hill town in Tuscany, or on the back streets of Venice. Here are a few of my photos. I took a ton of these types of pictures because I am hoping at some point to do some paintings and I wanted lots of ideas to choose from. 


Making Reading Beautiful!

We painted Free Little Libraries!

Does your city have a Little Free Library? These are little free standing libraries that have a “host” who looks after them and can be located in someone’s yard , out in the country, or in front of a business or in a park.  You can take a book to read or leave one for someone else to find. This non-profit organization was started in 2009. There are now over 90,000 Little Free Libraries in over 91 countries. 

Our town started this program a few years ago and my husband and I were two of the local artists who were asked to participate by painting one of the libraries. We did this two years in a row and really enjoyed coming up with an idea and seeing it through to the finished product. The libraries in our area were ordered from the official Little Free Library organization. 

They came already built and with a registered number that is linked to a LFL world map. However, there are hundreds of these libraries across the country that are completely handmade. You can Google Little Free Libraries to see some of the creative ideas. Below are a few of the libraries we painted.

My Beautiful Tuscan Kitchen

So I just realized looking through old pictures that I never posted any photos of our kitchen remodel. It is now officially 2 years since we completed what was a huge undertaking. All new flooring, cabinets (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the yellow color), appliances, and countertops. It feels like a bit of Italy in here, which I love! We spend a lot of time in this room. Me at the counter working and creating art, and my husband cooking.

The bright colors and warm feel really make a difference in the cold winter months. It always cheers me to be in this space, and I do my best art in here, (even though I have a classroom/studio downstairs). Something about the light, and the amazing view, and the bright colors are just the right environment for my creative juices to flow. I am so thankful to have such a talented husband. He is a cabinet maker by trade and did an awesome job on the whole kitchen.

I have to admit though that when he brought all the cabinets home and I saw the color, I was a little worried about too much yellow, (even though we had agreed on that color, there was just a lot of it!) But as soon as they were installed with the flooring and appliances and the red island I knew it was the perfect combination. 


And After!

My Bag of Tricks!

What is in my art bag these days….

These are my go to supplies these days that I grab when I am going out and feel inspired to create. Since I teach art and am surrounded by lots of artist supplies both at home and school it is nice to have some supplies that are just for me and feel like play instead of work. And they are small and lightweight so I can actually justify carrying them around even if I don’t have a chance to use them (which happened a lot in Europe by the way!)

I especially love the koi watercolors and the uni-ball signo white pens. And I love the ease of the aqua brushes. I found the Artist’s Loft bag at Michaels and it holds most of these supplies. The rest go in a small backpack that I throw the Loft bag in. 

What are some of your favorite supplies for when you are out and about? Let me know in the comments below!

I put together this handy list where you can find some of these supplies online:

These are affiliate links and I may receive a commission (at no extra cost to you) for purchases made through these links. Everything on this page I LOVE and heartily recommend!