Kayla Weber Nord has been creating non-stop since she was just three-years-old. As a child, her mom encouraged her creative side and in high school she had an art teacher who constantly pushed her and believed in her abilities. At Transylvania University, her advisor suggested to pursue a career as an art teacher and that’s when she begin taking tons of art classes. While at Transy, she also had the opportunity to study abroad in Florence, Italy where she further honed her skills. After graduating she started creating more and more commissions for people and the rest is history.
As a full-time art teacher, a small business owner and a part-time wedding planner Kayla has had her hands full for quite some time. For 5 years she worked as an art teacher with simultaneously balancing her ever-growing art business. Additionally Kayla and her parents are the brains behind The Barn at Springhouse Gardens, a wedding venue where Kayla herself got married. This past year, while teaching 4 days instead of 5, she decided it was time to step back from her career as a teacher to pursue art full-time.
“This past fall was so tough with teaching all week, keeping up with my painting and then wedding coordinating all weekend,” she explains. “To coordinate a wedding it usually consists of several hours on Friday night (right after school) and then usually all day on Saturday (typically 9 a.m. to around midnight).”
In order to work 4 days instead of 5, she had to give up her planning time and continue to teach a full schedule. Sunday became her day for prepping after a busy weekend.
Kayla would rush home after the bell rang at 3 p.m. to take a quick nap just to rejuvenate so she could deal with the rest of her priorities. Her husband, who is the after school program director where she used to teach, would be at the school until 6 p.m. before returning home for dinner.
“If I’m being totally honest, painting didn’t happen very often during the week. By the time we ate dinner and cleaned up the only thing I could even think about doing was sitting on the couch,” she says of her busy schedule. She often felt guilty knowing she had a lot of commissions that needed to be done but she wasn’t able to put the creativity most weeknights.
Her saving grace this past year was her day off from teaching each week, which allowed her to spend some time on her artwork. She would get up at 6 a.m. with her husband for a full day of work.
“I would grab a cup of coffee, start responding to emails, send my newsletters to my subscribers, update my website, order more supplies and prints as well as all the other administrative things that need to be done,” she explains. These menial tasks took up the majority of the day so she didn’t start painting until noon.
Her mom, Debbie, took over a lot of the responsibilities for The Barn at Springhouse Gardens but Kayla still did the social media and the week and day of planning for their brides.
Ultimately the decision to quit teaching was a result of the success she saw from dedicating a single full day each week to her artwork.
“I was able to make enough money just from that one day that I realized this could really be a career,” she says. “It was incredible to come to that realization.” Still, her work as a teacher made her an even better artist.
“The biggest lesson that I learned from teaching is to not be afraid to create what I feel. My kids are so inspiring because they show exactly who they are through their artwork. Their little creative minds fascinated me everyday and I was inspired by everything they created,” she says of her work as an art teacher.
Instead of teaching she will be creating art full-time as well as taking on a lot more at The Barn at Springhouse Gardens with her parents. They even have plans to build her a studio attached to the barn that can double as an event space.
Now that she’s focusing more of her time on her art, Kayla hopes to do more painting workshops, something she opened up to the public in May. She hopes to do 1 or 2 each month.
“My classes can be for beginners all the way to advanced artists. No painting experience is required and I really try to break every step down to show how I achieved what we are painting,” she explains. “It comes as second nature to me since I’ve been teaching kids for so long. I really try to make sure that everyone succeeds and is happy with their painting.”
Another service Kayla offers as an artist is live painting for weddings, something she started doing last September.
“I usually get there about an hour early to find my spot, draw everything out and get my palette ready. I paint whatever the bride wants so sometimes I paint cocktail hour, sometimes I paint the ceremony and sometimes I paint the first dance,” she explains. “I usually paint for 2-3 hours and I’m able to get it very close to being finished.” Still, she always takes it home to finish the smaller details and seal it with a protective coating.
All of these things are fairly new ventures for Kayla since creating custom paintings was how her art business got started in the first place. She still does commissions but only twice a year. This year they opened in January and will open again in August. [Sign up for her newsletter on her website to get first dibs on the sign ups in Aug.]
“I take a limited number and usually they are home renderings, dog portraits, horse-racing scenes, abstracts or landscapes,” she says. If you don’t want to wait around for a custom piece, she sells lots of gorgeous prints on her website.
Speaking of her website, she also runs a blog where she shares everything from travel advice to home decor tips. With over 14 thousand followers on Instagram, Kayla and her art have quite the following so I can only imagine this next stage of her life will be a successful one.
Keep reading for a Q&A with Kayla!
Can you tell me about Creative Collective and your role in the organization?
Creative Collective came about after I was spending a lot of time with some friends I had met through the Lexington community and blogger world. We all kept crossing paths and eventually decided to combine forces and give back what we’ve learned to others in Lexington and the surrounding areas. It’s been so much fun to come up with events and meet other women in our community. We’ve all learned so much through our individual journeys and we wanted to share some of our advice to help others who are starting out. None of us really have specific roles, we all kind of work equally in creating events and content to share!
[Creative Collective Lex is made up of 5 female entrepreneurs sharing their experiences. They host mixers, workshops, and events designed to help people make the most of their ideas. Read more about it here or follow here.]
Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
My advice for aspiring artists or anyone that wants to learn to paint is to just go for it! Practice really does make perfect and you’d be amazed at what you can do with some lessons and a little work. I have come so far as an artist just by practicing my craft, learning new techniques and being inspired by others. I look back at older paintings and it’s shocking how much I’ve grown just by painting more and finding my niche.
What is your favorite thing about painting?
My favorite thing about painting is taking a blank canvas that is nothing and turning it into something. I love that my work can bring people joy. I love that a painting can bring together an entire room. I love how I get lost while painting. There are so many things I love about it!
Why do you love Lexington?
Lexington has always been my home. I love everything about this place. It’s a good size city but it’s still so small and there are so many connections I have here. I feel like everyone here is connected in some way to each other. Kentuckians in general are so proud of their home and being able to re-create that love in my artwork is the best.
You can learn more about Kayla or purchase her work by visiting this website.
If you want to keep up with her as she starts her journey as a full-time artist, follow her here.