In this blog post, I share with you about my first ever experience traveling outside of North America and the in between memories of filming/ competing on the reality tv show “The Outstanding Artist”….
First let me give you a little bit of the background story. In February I applied for the chance to compete on the Milan’s third season of their artist reality tv show called “The Outstanding Artist” and about a week later I received an email saying I have been selected to compete! I became overwhelmed with joy and cried as I read it.
I felt so humbled and honestly almost couldn’t believe this was happening to me. In a couple months I would be traveling to Greece for a month long experience to compete along with 12 other amazing artists that had been selected from around the world!!! I was so motivated and eager for the challenges ahead. I knew that being the youngest contest and probably the least experienced (since I just started painting professionally less than a year ago and I hadn’t graduated from the Mastery Program yet) I had a lot to learn, but I was ready to grow even more. I attended the Milan’s two month long Apprenticeship Program in Georgia before going to Greece (which I definitely believe helped me gain more confidence in my skills since I learned how to paint faster and a variety of different subject matters throughout their program.)
After spending two months in Georgia, I flew home to visit my family in my NY hometown for 4 days before flying back down to Georgia to meet up and fly out with Dimitra Milan-Dunn and Jake Dunn to Greece. While I was home with my family, I unpacked from GA, prepared and did a solo art show with some local musician bands, celebrated a family member’s birthday, and then re-packed my bags for Greece! 😄
When I met up with Jake and Dimitra at the Atlanta airport, we ended up having to switch our flight tickets last minute due to some new regulations/ protocols that were made. Thankfully the staff was able to change our flights and check our baggage with literally less than 3 minutes to spare, before they would close the baggage compartments for our new flight! 😬. We honestly didn’t think we were going to make our new flight once we saw how long the security line was, but thankfully God heard our prayers and a very nice gentleman let us cut ahead of the line to save us sometime. And we made our flight 😅
We had a 8hr flight to Paris, and we knew we had a very short layover if we wanted to make it onto our next flight, so we ran through the airport, went through security again, and bolted to our gate to find out that we had missed it by like 5 minutes. Thankfully a staff member was able to book us a new flight and even gave us cash vouchers for some food since we now had an 8hr layover till the next flight. The 8hrs didn’t seem too long. Dimitra and I both passed the time by working on our own websites, then I worked out, did some ballet and stretching too, before we boarded our final flight to Greece! During the beginning of our take off, I was able to see the Eiffel Tower from my seat plane’s window.
We landed in Athens around 1am then took a taxi to Nafplio (about a 1hr 45min drive). We played 21 questions to help pass the time and keep us from falling asleep 😆. When we finally arrived at our hotel, Dino Milan welcomed us and let us into our rooms. Then we hit the beds and crashed for the remaining of the night.
When the morning sun came, we met at a local cafe for breakfast before we started exploring the beautiful town of Nafplio. Oh my, I just have to mention that the food was delicious and so fresh. I was definitely looking forward to what other tasty meals we’d have 😋
We stayed in Nafplio for a few days, exploring the sights, shops, & restaurants. I was trying to take it all in. The sky’s colors were so rich and beautiful and the waters were variations of teals/blues and were crystal like clear. Everyday I went to the beach to sketch and listen to the waves rippling the sea.
In the mornings I went for runs on a scenic trail that wrapped around the edge of the town and viewed the sea.
On the third day of being in Nafplio, we packed our bags and took a taxi to the porte and then a water taxi to get onto Spetses Island (which is where we spent a month filming Season 3 of The Outstanding Artist).
All of the other contestants and crew members met us on the island. It was such a joy to finally meet everyone in person!!!! We settled into our hotel rooms. I had two roommates, Ritika Aurora & Tanya Johnston. They are both lovely woman and I am very grateful to have shared a room together on this OA journey. We got along so well and made some fun memories together.
The day after arriving on the island, we began the filming of the show! I can’t discuss/ share anything we did during filming until the show airs (which I plan to do a blog about the filming after it airs) however until then, I can still share with you other memories and photos from the days that we had off of filming 😉.
On most of the days off, I spent my time sketching, reading, and going to the beach. Oh and I would occasionally walk and get some ice cream (ok maybe it was more than occasionally 😂). I discovered that the ice cream in Greece doesn’t upset my stomach like it does in the USA
(same goes for the bread…I ate so much bread 🤤). I hardly ever eat bread in the USA unless it Ezekiel bread. Eating in Greece was an eye opener for me. Their food is fresh, clean, no preservatives or GMOs, their milk is unpasteurized, and all of it was very flavorful.
Anyways back to the ice cream…I discovered a new flavor that I liked a lot and it was pistachio 😋. Once I discovered that, I was hooked…lol! I would get a scoop of pistachio and dark chocolate ice cream together and enjoy it on my walks back to the hotel.
On one of the nights when we all went out to dinner together, we got to watch traditional Greek dancing, and even got to participate in it. We were spinning, holding hands, laughing and dancing in circles and even up on the restaurant tables!!! It was a blast!
Here I will do a photo dump to share with you other sights/ memories I thought were beautiful/ interesting, because I can’t explain the other activities & trips we did on the island due to the show. I guess you will just have to watch it when it airs 😉 I hope you will. There are some really powerful & personal stories that each artist shared, along with the amazing art that was created, and a bunch of Greece views for you to see on The Outstanding Artist.
Now being home, I am extra motivated and inspired to continue growing, enhancing, & developing myself as an artist and person. I’ve started a new series of originals, that are inspired by the personal breakthroughs I experienced in Greece, and I am looking forward to sharing them with you soon. I have more travels in mind and I can’t wait for the adventures ahead!!!
To finish this blog, I want to take the time to mention someone very special to me. I couldn’t have imagined this Greece experience being as wonderful as it was without him being by my side. He is a humble, genuine man with a big heart. This man, is my brother Cody. I asked for his permission to use this photo (as he doesn’t like to show himself in the online world) but anyways I’d say we are partners in crime 😄 He is so supportive and I’m very grateful to not only be able to call him my brother, but one of my closest best friends.
To Cody, thank you for sticking by my side, encouraging me, and for protecting me. I love you so much!
Shout-out thank you to my family. I love you all. I appreciated all of your calls and messages 💕
And one more thank you to all of you who have read this, who have supported me on this journey. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to share this life with you all.
Before I finish, I want to make sure I provide you with the links to all of the other contestants on the show if you are interested in connecting with them (which I encourage you to do). They are all lovely, inspiring people.