The Virginia transplant and mother of three opened her own business in 2009 pursuing what she loved: art.
“It’s not anything I really planned,” she said of the creation of The Acworth Gallery, an event space, art gallery and community meeting spot.
The smell of freshly baked brownies often wafts through the home’s spacious rooms, where Brantley hosts birthday parties, bridal showers and ladies’ painting parties. She is known for her frosted brownies, which she periodically bakes for her students, the Acworth Police Department and friends, she said.
Brantley’s weekends are usually filled with back-to-back events where she teaches students of all ages how to paint, draw and create art using paintbrushes, scissors, glue and pencils.
The mother of three stumbled upon her love of art while working toward a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Christopher Newport University in Virginia when her daughters were in middle school, she said.
Through various art electives at school, Brantley discovered “I could paint and draw,” she said, and she quickly realized “psychology wasn’t going to be fun. I’m having fun now.”
Brantley moved to Georgia to be near her daughter and began teaching after-school art classes in Cobb County elementary schools, including Pickett’s Mill, Vaughan and Frey, and through word of mouth, developed a reputation for being a fun and engaging teacher, she said.
She now teaches classes in schools every afternoon for eight-week sessions, which cost $90, including materials, she said.
After a year’s worth of construction and paperwork with the city, Brantley presented her first painting class for a local Scout troop, at her home, she said.
What began as an idea to teach children’s art classes from her home has grown into a profitable business. Brantley said her income has doubled every year since she opened, and this year she expects to make $50,000, she said, doing what she loves.
Brantley and her students have “the best time” during every class, where she moves around a room full of canvases, encouraging her students to paint with sparkles, bright colors and with all parts of the paintbrush.
Eight-week art classes at the gallery cost $200, which includes supplies, and tea party birthday celebrations, which cost $250 for 13 children, she said.
The gallery’s hallways are covered in Brantley’s paintings, and model butterflies climb the wide windows in the dining room, where a large table is draped in a pink cloth and covered with elaborate gold and floral table settings. Mannequins are placed around the first floor, and are often dressed up for holidays and events, Brantley said.
As the business continues to grow, Brantley said she can barely keep up with the number of ideas she has to continue expanding. By this spring, she will be
selling 15-minute art classes online for 99 cents each, a new venture she hopes will go viral.
“I think online is where it is,” and the expansion of any business, she said, should incorporate the powers of the Internet, which she hopes will connect her with students around the world.
Brantley wants to pass on her knowledge of how one can pursue a career in the art world, and is enrolling students for a new class called “ARTragious,” which teaches students how to sell their artwork online and how to create a portfolio. The artwork the students create during the eight-week session will be displayed in the gallery on the second floor of the home, and any money made from sales will be kept by the students, Brantley said.
Brantley has learned “it takes a while to get your name known,” although her neighbors and friends in Acworth have not made that hard, and acknowledged that the community has embraced her since she began business and created opportunities for her to teach at locations all over town, including in churches and private homes.
Although people have been hesitant to purchase art during the recession, she has always found a steady source of children wanting to learn from her.
“Luckily, teaching kids is my favorite thing in the world,” Brantley said.
“The main thing is to be good at what you do,” Brantley said, holding a painting of a snowman she had children mimic during a recent lesson.
Brantley is looking to hire art teachers to help her offer more adult classes, such as acrylics, stained glass and any sort of craft, she said. Interested applicants should call Brantley at (770) 313-2917, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.