Thursday, December 20, 2018

Key West Lighthouse Museum

The current Key West Lighthouse was built in 1847 after the original wooden tower, built in 1846 on Whitehead point, was destroyed by a hurricane. When it reopened in 1848, its first Keeper was a woman which was very uncommon for the 19th century.

In 1969, the lighthouse was decommissioned by the U.S. Coast Guard. It was not re-opened until 1989 after its restoration.

Today, the lighthouse functions as a museum dedicated to preserving Key West's maritime heritage. 

The Key West Lighthouse Museum consists of three buildings – the gift shop, the lighthouse and the Light Keeper's Quarters. To enter, you must go through the gift shop. This is where you will pay your admission to the only staff member on the premises. You will then proceed back outside to the lighthouse for your self-guided tour.

Visitors may climb the 88 steps of the lighthouse to the balcony where they will have a 360˚ view of the island. On this particular day, the heat index was 101˚ making the 88 steps feel like 800.

 There are 10 additional steps to see the actual light but this section was closed on our visit.

The museum is housed in the old Light Keeper's Quarters which was built in 1887.

It's a small space consisting of just four rooms where you will find a collection of lighthouse artifacts and learn about the maritime history of the Keys.

Visitors are not allowed to walk through this room displaying the Keeper's home life (above) but may view it through a window on either side.

I thought these window shade graphics (above) were a very creative solution to the problem of limited wall space in this room.

To exit the grounds, you must go back through the gift shop whereupon you will receive this sticker.

The museum is open daily from 9:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. and is located at 938 Whitehead Street.

After your visit to the museum, you can walk just a few blocks up to see the southernmost point of the United States.

Thursday, November 15, 2018


Everything in my Etsy store, StudioKWN will be marked down between 10%-50% off from November 23rd through November 26th PLUS receive FREE domestic shipping on all orders through December 10th. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

28th Annual All Florida Juried Arts Show

There's only one week left to see the All Florida Juried Arts Show. 
The show ends on November 15th and features works by artists from all over Florida. 

I did not enter a piece for this show but was still excited to see what works were selected. The exhibit takes up both rooms at the Court House Cultural Center.

There was a nice mix of work spanning traditional and experimental media. 

From my observation of the other patrons, they were most intrigued by the hand-embroidered textiles and sculptures made from materials like soap or palm pods.

Flame Pods by Gary Gresko (shown above right) definitely caught everyone's eye.

Joachim Perez's, Touchy, Smelly had visitors resisting the urge to actually touch the sculptures made from soap and digital fabrication but we did try to smell them. 

Robin Stabley's, Florida - Land Ho! had impressive gold leafing and painted faux marble. I had to stare at this painting a long time to take in all of the intricate little details.

I enjoyed this show very much and hope you get a chance to see it as well.

The Court House Cultural Center is located at 80 SE Ocean Blvd, Stuart, Florida.
Gallery hours are Tues-Fri 10 am - 4pm and Sat 11am - 2pm.
Suggested donation of $5.00

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

A very Sweet art show at the Elliott Museum

The last day of the Sweet! art exhibit was this past Sunday so if you missed it then you really missed out. 

Located at the Elliott Museum in the changing exhibitions gallery, Sweet! was a food and drink themed juried art exhibition featuring artists from all over the state of Florida.

We were asked not to take pictures of the artwork so I respectfully complied but here is a shot of the crowd viewing the exhibit on opening night. The turnout was fantastic and everyone really seemed to enjoy the food and the art!

Moo! by Kim W. Nolan
I was, however, allowed to take pictures of my own work. This is a sculpture of a cow I made from upcycled dairy containers...

...and I used milk crates for the pedestal.

These are actual cakes made by a local baker, The Cake Lady, located in Fort Pierce. Free samples were generously given to patrons. There was also lots of other cakes and edible goodies donated by the sponsor of the show, Publix Super Markets.

The Elliott Museum did a wonderful job of putting together this fabulous art show. This exhibit is now over but the permanent exhibits are absolutely worth exploring. They have a huge collection of vintage cars as well as several other galleries that have displays ranging from vintage baseball cards to old voting booths.
Visit for hours and directions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Free Shipping!

Free shipping sale at StudioKWN

Announcing FREE domestic shipping on every single item in my Etsy store, StudioKWN from October 10th through December 10th. Don't miss out! Visit StudioKWN today.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


This weekend is the opening of Sweet! a food-themed juried art exhibition at the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida. See original artwork in all media by Florida artists and enjoy a cake decorating demonstration with samples to eat. 

Moo! - Cow sculpture made from recycled dairy containers by Kim W. Nolan
Moo! - Cow sculpture made from recycled dairy containers by Kim W. Nolan
Come see me and my sculpture at the opening reception this Saturday, September 15th from 2-5 pm. Admission is $5 per person. There will be a cash bar and an awards presentation. The exhibition runs from September 15th-November 4th 2018. All artwork is available for purchase.

 For hours and directions visit I hope to see you on Saturday!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Dry Tortugas National Park

Do you know about the Dry Tortugas? That's ok. I didn't either until my husband surprised me with a trip for my birthday-- it was a big one with a zero on the end! It was such a unique and wonderful experience and I'm so excited to tell you about this amazing place.

So what is Dry Tortugas?
Dry Tortugas comprises 7 islands located in the Gulf of Mexico 71.8 miles from Key West. It is the most remote of all the national parks of the contiguous 48 states. It was discovered by Ponce de Leon in 1513. He named it "Las Tortugas" because of the large number of sea turtles (Tortugas means turtles in Spanish) that populated the waters around the island. The name was later changed to Dry Tortugas to indicate to mariners that the island lacked fresh water.

In 1846 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers began construction of Fort Jefferson on Bush Key. All 16 million bricks and every single supply for the island needed to be brought there by boat. The Fort was used as a prison camp during the Civil War. The heat, loneliness, mosquitos, and lack of food and fresh water created a miserable existence for the prisoners and soldiers.

Today, there are only 10 staff members living there and every single thing still needs to be brought over by boat including food and drinking water. Visitors can camp on Bush Key with the proper permit and must bring all of their own supplies, food, and water.

What is there to do at the Dry Tortugas?
One thing you can do is take a guided or self-guided tour of Fort Jefferson. I believe the guided tour lasts about 45 minutes. The only place that is off-limits is the moat. You are free to roam everywhere else.

You are allowed to climb up to the top of the Fort where you can check out the remaining canons and get a bird's eye view of the breathtaking scenery.

Dry Tortugas is also a bird watcher's paradise. In 1832, America's most prominent bird artist, James Audubon, spent several days at the Dry Tortugas observing and painting some of the over 200 avian species that migrate there from Cuba and Central America to the United States.

Some of the species of birds you may see when visiting are terns, boobies, noodies, herons, and frigates. I am not a birder so I can't tell you exactly what birds I saw but there were thousands of birds flying all around the island. I've never seen so many birds all in one place before. It was truly incredible.

My favorite part of the trip was the snorkeling. All snorkeling gear was provided for us but you can also bring your own if you'd like. Dry Tortugas is home to one of the most vibrant coral reefs in the U.S. You are allowed to snorkel around the entire island (except for the moat) and you may even see some stingrays or sharks. Please be respectful and do not touch or stand on the coral. We saw some people doing this even after an announcement on the boat and a video about protecting the coral reef. You can kill the coral if you touch it and disrupt our entire ecosystem.

There was also one group of people on the trip who brought a radio and were blasting music. They obviously missed the entire purpose of spending the day on a remote island with no connection to the rest of the world. Luckily, they were easy to avoid by moving to a different location. Since only one boat full of people are allowed to visit each day, it wasn't crowded at all and wasn't hard to find our own little private stretch of beach. Overall it was a unique and peaceful experience from start to finish. There where thousands of birds flying above us and there was colorful coral everywhere we looked. There was also no cell phone service which provided us with uninterrupted serenity on our beautiful little oasis.

photo of Dry Tortugas National park and seaplane

How do I get to Dry Tortugas?
Unless you own a seaplane, the Yankee Freedom is the only ferry that goes to Dry Tortugas National park so booking well in advance is recommended. Tickets include the pass to get into the National Park. The boat ride was really fun and relaxing and being that we left bright and early in the morning we weren't traveling with a rowdy group of partiers. It was a very family-friendly excursion. You can sit inside or outside and the ferry has an upper and lower deck. The trip was about 2 1/2 hours each way with breakfast, lunch, snacks and fresh water included. There was a cash bar available in the afternoon on the trip back to the Keys. The boat had several bathrooms (since Dry Tortugas does not!) as well as a shower if you wanted to rinse off after a swim. This is not a paid endorsement so I don't get any money for saying that the staff was fantastic as well. Visit or call (800) 634-0939 for tickets.

Friday, May 18, 2018

da Vinci Workshop at the Discovery Museum

As I wrote in my previous post about my design work for the Water Gallery, The Discovery Museums in Acton, Massachusetts were recently renovated to combine both the original Science Discovery Museum and Children's Discovery Museum into one 16,000 sq ft. redesigned space now called the Discovery Museum. I was hired by Paul Orselli Workshop to create the environmental graphics and artwork for some of the new exhibit spaces, one of which was da Vinci Workshop. The da Vinci Workshop is a hands-on STEAM makerspace where kids can design and engineer their own creations using tools and a variety of recycled materials. Outside the workshop area are several simple machines and engineering interactives. 

The project called for an entry/title sign that incorporated a full-body portrait of da Vinci in the style of da Vinci based on his only known self-portrait. This was quite the tall order and, I'll admit, a bit intimidating. It required some research on my part since there are no full-body paintings of da Vinci and the drawing is only of his head.
*Interesting side note: No one can say with absolute certainty that the portrait is actually of da Vinci. The drawing was done when he was 58-60 years old (he died at age 67) and his portrait is of a much older man. Some people have speculated that he purposely made himself look older for reasons unknown or that it's a portrait of his father. 

In order to render his body, I researched the clothing of his time period, confirmed that he was most likely left-handed and based on his skeletal remains, approximately 5'9" tall. I re-drew his self-portrait in my own hand in order to make the full-body portrait look like one cohesive drawing. The next challenge was to make it look like the drawing was created during the Italian Renaissance. Incidentally, I studied Renaissance painting techniques in Italy 20 years ago and this was the perfect opportunity to put some of that knowledge to use. I wasn't able to use the exact tools and materials that da Vinci would have used so I improvised with a Tuscan red Prismacolor pencil on parchment and then used several different computer programs to make the drawing look appropriately aged and colored. 

We also wanted the title sign to look like it was hand-painted. I decided the best way to do that would be to actually paint the lettering by hand! Many people have speculated about why da Vinci wrote from right to left and I can tell you why without even having to ask da Vinci. It's because, like myself, he was left-handed. Even though I tried to channel my inner da Vinci, I didn't paint the lettering from right to left strictly for authenticity purposes. It was actually because my hand would've smeared black paint across the entire sign. Any lefty can relate to this dilemma. 

I laid the lettering over the background which I painted on a canvas texture using Photoshop and then added several filters in On1 Photo RAW to give it an aged and weathered look. If the sign ever gets damaged, a new one can be printed to replace it. This turned out to be a wise decision since this is already the 2nd printing of the sign!

These are shelves where the children can leave their inventions to dry. I was pretty much given free rein to design something that incorporated da Vinci's sketches for the back of the shelves.

I created a 12' wide image of what I imagined da Vinci's workbench might have looked like. I looked through more than a thousand of his sketches which have been archived by the British Library, National Library of Spain and Cornell Library. This part of the project was fascinating and also made me feel really lazy. He filled so many books with drawings, inventions, and observations. I really need to start sketching more!

This wall is all about simple machines. Around the corner is a gear wall so I tied the two together with these wall-mounted circles using a similar color scheme. Again, I searched through the archives of da Vinci's sketches until I found some that were great examples of the six simple machines. I then added a tint of color to each of them to make them more appealing to kids and to further distinguish them from my own illustrations of basic simple machines on the smaller circles. Each simple machine illustration corresponds with one of the drawings of da Vinci's inventions.

The exhibit included a working replica of da Vinci's ornithopter. I was tasked with creating a wall mural that integrated drawings of da Vinci's flying machines. The size of this mural is 12' wide by 6' high.
Pictured above is the flying machines mural with the replica ornithopter installed. Kids can design their own flying machines and use the nearby vertical wind table to test them out.

This project was both technically and creatively challenging and I hope da Vinci would've been pleased. I was personally thrilled to have the opportunity to contribute to the creation of the exciting new Discovery Museum.