If you go looking for Be...An Artist Studio at 4025 E. Chandler Blvd., you’re not going to find it.
Instead, look to the local streets as owner Sandra Marshall has gone fully mobile with two Tiny Mobile Studios that bring the art to you.
As of last Saturday, Marshall closed the brick and mortar studio that opened in 2014 and enjoyed great success in order to focus on her Tiny Mobile Studios that travel to private parties, fundraisers and special events like festivals and corporate gatherings.
It wasn’t easy to make the final decision to go strictly mobile, but Marshall, an artist herself, called it the right decision at the right time.
“It feels right; for the last year we’ve known we’d close the studio eventually. It was a natural progression,” she said. “But I have to say, we all still cried our eyes out because it’s been such a wonderful experience. We call it growing pains.”
Marshall said since launching her first Tiny Mobile Studio last December, they’ve been very well received.
“The Tiny Mobile Studios are named ‘The Ladybug’ with a black and red polka dot theme, and ‘The Surf Shack’ with palm trees. I call them ‘Tiny Studios with big ideas’,” she said.
And those big ideas proved to be founded in reality.
In March, she was hired by the National Football League to bring her Tiny Mobile Studio to the NFL owners meeting at the Arizona Biltmore, where families participated in creating hundreds of artworks in a ballroom rather than the mobile studio.
She said her Tiny Mobile Studios serve as “mascots” when the groups are so large.
That major event assured her she was on the road to success.
She’s also been hitting the local festival circuit, including three appearances at the Tempe Festival of the Arts, Ahwatukee’s Festival of Lights Kick-off and others throughout the East Valley.
“Be...An Artist and Tiny Mobile Studios host parties, classes, corporate events and any other creative escapes for groups as small as eight and up to 1,000 people,” said Marshall.
“Creative classes will be held at different locations in Ahwatukee, and we’re branching out to other cities. It’s been amazing teaming up with local places to put together fun art adventures where there’s food, drinks and other combinations. We’re finding innovative ways to bring art to businesses, and it’s been extremely successful.”
Before concentrating solely on rolling her art to the masses, she first had to clean out her current studio.
“We gave away hundreds of canvases that had been started to a children’s shelter so they could finish them their own way and have artwork on their walls. And lots of our paints are going to the local schools in Kyrene for the art programs,” she said.
“We also donated furniture and easels to churches and programs in need of art supplies. It feels great to give back.”
She said her Free Little Library, normally outside her studio and chockablock with books, is in need of a new home.
Besides her studio employees, Marshall was being aided in the move-out by long-time Ahwatukee friends, Linda and Ralph Ricciardi.
“Artists aren’t always known to be the most organized people, myself included; there are too many things to create and come up with,” laughed Marshall.
“Linda and Ralph have that organized side. They’ve saved me through the years, and deserve lots of credit and a cruise or something.”
Though self-deprecating, Marshall is a savvy businesswoman, but first, she is an artist whose love of art began early.
“I’ve been an artist since kindergarten when I started painting on canvas,” she said. “I joined an older group of kids and since I was focused, they let me stay.”
By fourth grade Marshall had moved into portraiture utilizing pencils, pastels and paints. Living on Long Island, she and her family frequented art museums in New York City that she said further heightened her interest.
Now a mother of two who attend Ahwatukee schools, she said that was yet another reason she opted to “go mobile.”
“My kids are now teenagers and I need to be more present, go to all their events, and just be more available,” she said. “And I’m an artist by profession and this will free up my time so I can paint more in my own studio.”
A recent birthday party for 9-year-old friends Cicily Lenartz and Emery Rawlings was held in the Surf Shack mobile studio at the Ahwatukee home of their parents, Andy and Tracy Lenartz.
“Cicily and Emery both love art, so the Tiny Mobile Studio instantly came to mind when we started planning their joint birthday slumber party,” said Tracy.
“We love how there are no limits to creativity with Ms. Sandra. The birthday girls really put that to the test this time when they declared their party theme would be avocados! Sandra didn’t blink an eye, and helped the girls design funky dancing avocados. We had a small group of seven girls and they all had a blast painting in the Tiny Mobile Studio.”
Tracy said Marshall “transformed the driveway into a tropical paradise.”
“The kids had fun getting creative and painting, and there was no mess for us to clean up when done,” she added. “These are very easy parties to host, and there’s no need for goodie bags since each child took home their own art masterpieces.”
Even as Marshall walks away from her Chandler Boulevard studio, striding into a new way of making and sharing art as a living, she says she feels positive about what lies ahead.
“I’ve been an artist my entire life and I love sharing what I’ve learned with others. Art is my passion. I paint with 2-year-olds one day and the next day, someone in their 80’s. I love all ages,” she smiled. “I am so thankful for the community who embraces what we’ve done. Now we’re able to reach even more people.”
She said there are many “surprises” in store.
She’s planned a YouTube production stemming from a children’s art program she produced before opening Be...An Artist that she intends to disperse via DVDs.
“At the time, DVDs were going by the wayside, so I put the production on hold. Now it’s time to bring it back out this summer,” she said.
“It’s a combination of arts for kids, using people, puppets, live animals, and lots of art. We turn everything into art. The characters are so much fun and are almost ready to make their debut.”
Marshall is also at work on a second book using her carefully-staged photos of vegetables. Her first, ‘One Hot Night at the Veggie Bar’ was geared to adults, and the next is for children.
“My background is in elementary education and I hope this book will help them to shop more in the produce aisle and get away from processed foods. It is so much fun, and now I’ll finally have time to get it out there and promote it. It’s just another reason I need to move on from the studio,” she said.
Information: BeAnArtistAZ.com and TinyMobileStudio.com; Marshall is also taking her Tiny Mobile Studios to area businesses, parks and restaurants, and they’ll be promoted on the Be...An Artist Facebook page.