As she brings light and life to a building that has sat empty and dark for several years, artist Darla Williamson watches as people drive by and stop to see what is going on. “I am so excited about my new location for Tangled Stones Studio at Shades Mountain Plaza because there is so much potential here and for more artists to move into the buildings where I am.”
Art Is Staying In Bluff Park
After the closing of the Artists On The Bluff building last year, the resident artists were forced to find studio space elsewhere. Several local artists, including Darla, Jayne Morgan, and Deb Paradise (just to name a few), looked for opportunities and open spaces to keep their art in Bluff Park. Jayne Morgan now teaches from Moonlight on the Mountain and has a studio in the caboose at On A Shoestring. Kendall Boggs is setting up a studio in the space next to Darla. Rik Lazenby plans to move his studio to the Carto-Craft Maps building. Deb Paradise also moved from AOTB to the Stringfellow Building just behind Carto-Craft Maps. There are more spaces open and ready to be filled.
“I feel like it was divine guidance!” Darla says of how she found her new space. “When we found out we were losing AOTB, I drove all over the area looking for space for rent. I kept driving by the back building at Shades Mountain Plaza thinking, ‘It looks empty, and it looks like several spaces…so maybe room for several artists?’ But, there were no ‘For Rent’ signs in the windows. Isabelle Silko, the mother of one of my students told me I needed to go see Mr. Lang at Cartomaps in the corner adjacent to the building. The Langs owned it and that did it!”
She took that as a sign. Darla went and knocked on the door and asked if they would be interested in leasing space to some artists. “Mr. and Mrs. Lang have been wonderful, and it is possible some of the other artists are going to be there too,” Darla says.
Like many who live here, Darla finds Bluff Park unique – a diamond in the rough. “I am so happy I was able to find space here! There is such a history of arts in Bluff Park. The Bluff Park Art Show has been drawing people nationwide since before Hoover incorporated, and Artists on the Bluff was really beginning to gain momentum. We had a great group of artists, many who live in this area, and in the past three years over 6,500 people had come there to take classes! That’s amazing and it shows that there is a need in this community for the arts and artists.”
We already have thousands of people coming to Bluff Park for the arts, so we can really build on that momentum and make the art community in Bluff Park special.
Darla, a multi-talented artist, found the concept of Zentangle, a method of creating beautiful images by drawing structured patterns, and was certified as a teacher in October 2011.
The tangling teacher began sharing her love of Zentangle in classes at Artists on the Bluff in 2012 with many different styles and expanded classes to include teaching mixed media, art journaling techniques, paper marbling, book making, and how to use brush markers.
“I have taught over 2,500 students over the past 5 1/2 years. It has been an amazing mix of people from age 5 to age 90 – beekeepers, attorneys, doctors, domestic goddesses, kids, clowns, artists, and many more!
At Her New Studio
“We had to paint, move, and unpack! Quickly. “I could not have done it without my husband and friends that came to help.” Even with a snowstorm on December 8, Tangled Stones Studio opened on December 9, 2017.
A friend helped wrapped up purchases and both ladies stayed busy. A mix of people who have taken classes or purchased items from Darla in the past, and new people who saw the studio was opening, stopped in to see the transformation.
Tangled Stones Studio has three rooms in it’s space. The front teaching area, work area, kiln room (for pottery) and a backyard area for spring and summer outdoor classes and camps.
For every class she teaches, Darla spends hours and sometimes months, pouring over information through her signature spectacles. Through research and experimentation, her students are getting the information on a level they can comprehend. “We all learn differently, so if someone has trouble with a concept, I have different ways to explain it to them,” she says.
When she is not teaching, the studio doubles as a boutique gift shop. “I have an ‘Open’ sign and when it is on, just come on in,” Darla says. “I have items that I make available for purchase – books, pottery, silk scarves, paintings, cards, et cetera!”
Banker and Teacher
I think it is very important that every person feed their creativity, and we think about art when we say that, but for many years, problem solving in the corporate environment fed mine. -Darla Williamson
Darla spent upwards of twenty years in the corporate world, the last fourteen of those years in corporate banking. But her heart was that of a teacher. “I love to gather a lot of information and filter through and find where it all comes together and then present it in a way that everyone can understand. I did that with corporate projects and documents, and I do that now with teaching art.”
Sorting through a difficult and emotional situation with the historic school building that once housed Artists On The Bluff, potentially brings new life to another area of Bluff Park with so much potential.
Q: What would you personally like to see happen in Shades Mountain Plaza in regards to other artists opening studios there or potential community activities? Etc.“I would love to see every open space filled with art studios! There are many fun activities that can be planned together – from summer camps to monthly art nights and a lot of things in between! There are some great food places here, we have a dance studio and music studio. And I would love to see a coffee shop.”
In addition to Zentangle, mixed media, art journaling, paper marbling, book making, and brush markers, Tangled Stones Studio will also offer scarf dyeing, collage, and some make and take classes such as paper flowers, photo transfer, gelli printing, and more.
Take a look at what is coming up
After School Weekly Classes:
For more classes and information about Darla visit http://www.TangledStones.com