Wednesday, July 30, 2014


A little over a year ago, I lost one of my best friends.  My mom.  She lived a long life, well into her 80s - but it's still hard and I miss her every day.  Now, memories of her play in my mind.  Daily, I see or do things that trigger thoughts of mom, and that's a wonderful thing.

The fall before she died, she and I were clearing out her garden pots and getting things ready for winter.  There was one huge geranium in a pot that she was ready to toss, but I suggested that I take it home and nurse it through the winter, with plans to return it to her in the spring.  

I spend a lot of time in my art room, especially in the winter.  It's also the room that gets the best light for plants.    So, here it is, in full bloom, last January!  I felt like I had a little bit of mom with me while I painted through this especially dark, cold, Wisconsin winter.   

Now, it's out in my garden storing up energy to get it through the winter to come.  And it is BEAUTIFUL!  I've even rooted multiple cuttings, not wanting to take a chance of losing this plant.  

You can see just a bit of it off on the center of the left side of this photo - one of the first plants to be seen as you enter the garden from the front of our house.  

 And last, but not least, I chose Mom's geranium as my model for drawing today, after adding watercolor . . .

and before.

Looking forward to many, many years of remembering mom through her beautiful geranium.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I love Cedarburg, Wisconsin!  If you've never been there, it's a quaint little town with an active and charming little downtown area.  This year, the Cedarburg Art Museum is hosting a juried exhibition called, The Doors of Cedarburg.
The description reads, "Artists working in a variety of media are invited to explore and interpret the diverse architectural heritage of our community with art works that have as their predominant subject, a doorway found in the city or town of Cedarburg."

What a great excuse for us to go up to Cedarburg on some nice summer day, have lunch, do a little shopping, and take some pictures to work from.

So, this morning I starting working on my first practice door . . .  

Up to four paintings can be entered for possible entrance to the exhibition, and the chosen paintings will be on display and for sale at the Cedarburg Art Museum.  I think this sounds like a fun project.  

Cedarburg is one of our favorite places to visit and it's active all year long.  Here's a painting I did from the Strawberry Festival last year.


We came across this bustling group around some tents hosting a corn roast during the festival - my painting is  loosely based on the photo below.

Cedarburg also hosts a Plein Air Painting Competition during the Strawberry Festival.  Maybe next year I can muster up the courage to participate in that.  It would be a lot easier if I had someone to paint alongside - anyone out there want to do this?

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Over the last year, along with working in a watercolor journal almost daily, I've been completing  separate journals to remember trips we've taken.  Coming up is a trip to Northern Wisconsin to spend a week in a log cabin on Butternut Lake.  For this trip, rather than buying a ready-made journal, I followed a great little video on how to make my own coptic stitch watercolor journal.  

A little coneflower bouquet nameplate on the back.

12 pages = 24 useable sides. This should be just the right amount to capture a week of memories.

Coptic binding is from the 2nd century AD, used by the early Christians in Egypt.  When open, the book lays flat, which is perfect for my purposes.  This could also be used as a vacation scrapbook or photo album.

The video I followed can be found here.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014


What is the business of childhood?  Discovery through books, play, and nature SHOULD be the business of childhood - especially in the summertime!

 I am so thankful I grew up in the 50s when technology meant a phone attached to the wall and one tv in the house that was black and white for the first 5 years of my life.  Things were so much simpler. We made our own fun in the neighborhood, playing outside - and books played a large part of my days. Having a mom who was such an avid reader, I learned to treasure books myself.  Summer meant long walks to the library to check out the 10 allowed books, a long trek home, and then a blanket in the backyard with my new pile strewn around me.  I remember this being a long walk - so I looked up the distance, just to see if it was just another mirage of childhood.  
Lo, and behold, it WAS a trek for a little girl - just shy of a mile.

Inspired by the beautiful summer days we've been having, I've been reminiscing by doing some little 4 x 9 inch watercolor paintings that include quotes from a few of my favorite books of childhood.  
These paintings can be found in my Etsy shop, Gillyflower Cottage.

The Secret Garden
Francis Hodgson Burnett
(I remember reading in my classroom during "library time")

Winnie the Pooh
A. A. Milne
(Below is a photo of my mother's old Pooh book, now in MY library!)

 I love the inside cover of her book.  It has a charming little map of Pooh's neighborhood and wanderings.   And on the right is my mom's signed bookplate.

"The Swing", from A Child's Garden of Verses
Robert Louis Stevenson
(I LOVED this collection of poems and memorized this one as a little girl!)

Now, on to my last two favorites to make a set of five - Little Women and Little Ballerina . . .

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Working in my garden, I saw a robin making multiple visits to the climbing hydrangea.  She didn't seem very happy that I was nearby, and was vigorously scolding me.  Then I saw why.  Hidden, far up at the top of the vine, was her beautiful little nest.  Inside, I saw what she had been protecting - several blue eggs.

Thus began the idea for a series of small paintings based on my favorite books from childhood.  The verse surrounding the watercolor is from the children's book, The Secret Garden, by Francis Hodgson Burnett.  Seemed a fitting verse, considering the prize she was protecting on this summer day.  "The robin flew from the spray of ivy to the top of the wall and opened its beak and sang a loud, lovely trill, merely to show off!"  She is definitely proud of her little clutch and rightly so.  What a pretty little painting to hang near a child's bookcase to bring the classic children's story to life.  A perfect accompaniment to a gift of the book itself!

A Nest In The Hydrangea
4 x 9 inches
watercolor and ink

This ink and watercolor is done on Sennelier Cotton Watercolor Paper - on a 140# block. So, it is stretched and ready to be matted/framed. Finished size is 4 x 9 inches.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


I was watering the flowers on our patio the other day and admiring the climbing hydrangea going up the trellis. We planted that hydrangea about 10 years ago and it looked pretty pitiful for about 6 years, - plenty of vine growth, but no flowers.  But the last few years, it's been busting with blooms!  

So, while I'm looking up into the hydrangea I see this nest, way up at the top of the trellis!  Too high to see inside.  Curiosity got the best of me and I got out a little step stool and took a peek.

And here is what I saw!  

Inspired, I got out my watercolor journal.  

I've also been working on these little bird tags which can now be found in my shop here.
They are ready to download and print for your gift giving pleasure!

Thursday, June 19, 2014




With the high cost of greeting cards these days, I've taken to using a tag printed from one of my paintings instead.  After printing a painting on heavy card stock, you just cut it out, punch a hole, and write your message on the back.  Tie it on to a package and you have an original and unique gift tag that can even be matted and framed.  Purchase the PDF in my Etsy shop here,  then you can print as many as you like.   All for $4.00!  Not bad when you consider that $4 may not even cover the cost of one greeting card!

Print the tags onto heavy card stock paper, then tie a bundle of tags as a gift in itself, or use them on your packages in lieu of a card.  I even use them to attach to a bouquet of flowers I'm delivering to a friend.  They add a little extra touch to any gift.

(PDF will be emailed without watermark.)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


NORTH POINT LIGHTHOUSE is located in Lake Park on the east side of Milwaukee, right on Lake Michigan.  Last year we got inside the keeper's quarters for a lecture and found a gathering of people who are passionate about lighthouses, their history, and restoration.  So interesting to find little pockets of people like this, so devoted to unusual niches in history.

Practicing in my journal for a larger painting of North Point Lighthouse and Keeper's House . . .

The land for North Point Lighthouse was purchased in 1851 for $1000, and after construction, the original lighthouse had a beacon that was 107 feet above the water - the highest beacon on the Great Lakes.  After over 140 years of service, multiple keepers (including a single woman), the U.S. Coast Guard took the lighthouse out of service in 1994.  It now remains as a historical site that is open for viewing and various events.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

TIDE POOL TREASURES - 5 x 7 inch watercolor

Available now, on ETSY, this little painting is based on another of Edward Potthast's paintings.  Two little girls, dressed in their white dresses and bows, search the tide pools for shells and small sea creatures.  Big sister, encouraging little sister, and both hoping to find something to take home as a memory of their day at the beach.  

(This can be done as a custom painting for your family.  Add others - boys or girls -
 all playing at the beach.  See my ETSY shop for details HERE.)

Tide Pool Treasures
5 x 7 inch
watercolor on 300 lb Arches paper

Sunday, May 18, 2014


One of my favorite impressionists is Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927)  He worked as a lithographer until he was 35 years old, then spent the rest of his life doing beautiful impressionistic paintings of families at the beach and in Central Park.  

In my sketchbook today, a quick-sketch of his painting, "Ring Around The Rosy". 

So.  Destination this week?  Chicago!  To see this and other paintings at: 
The Terra Foundation For American Art, Chicago, IL

Thursday, May 8, 2014


In honor of Mother's Day . . . not all mothers are human!

Mother's Day
5 x 6 inch watercolor
Available on Etsy!

Monday, May 5, 2014


Fresh fruit and vegetable season in upon us!  Soon, no more plastic tomatoes and tasteless strawberries!  But, best of all, is this sweet little gem - the Bing Cherry!

Getting situated . . .

Pose #1

 And Pose #2

Great little models.

Available on Etsy!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


Winter is in love with Wisconsin.  It is passionately and ferociously holding onto our little corner of the world, draping itself over us with its cold winds and icy rain.  It leaves its smothering mark everywhere we look, not wanting to be forgotten.  

I am no longer patient with it and want it out of my life.  Let it find another place that will reciprocate with it's affection.  There was a time when I loved it, but the feeling is no longer mutual.

So, while I wait, I'll paint.  If I can't have spring in my garden, I'll splash it into my sketchbook.

"Little Blue House in the Lavender Field"

"Sarah's Hare"

"Trespassing in the Lavender"

Friday, April 25, 2014


I've been tending to my Etsy shop, Gillyflower Cottage, after finding that many of my items had to be reactivated and updated.  I've also been doing a fair amount of watercolor journaling and painting.  So much, in fact, that I had to listen to my last book group selection on, while I finished a painting for a friend.  Not a bad way to multitask!

So, there's a new, sweet little painting in Gillyflower Cottage.  This is a 6 x 6 inch oil on gessorbord panel called, "Full Bloom".   Check it out here.  I've been practicing the technique I learned while attending a Dreama Tolle Perry workshop in March.  Lots of color and a very painterly style - fresh, loose, visible brush strokes.  It's been very fun and challenging.

6 x 6 inch oil on museum quality gessobord

Thanks for checking in!

Friday, April 4, 2014


Part of the ache for spring is the desire to see flowers . . . everywhere!

Check out my Etsy shop here, to find out about commissioning 
an original, and affordable custom portrait of your family home!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


Spring is teasing us this year with its elusiveness.  

One day of milder temperatures, followed by many days of wind, cold, freezing rain, and clouds.  Those of us who live in the north are one hardy bunch. We know the warmer days will come.  We try to be patient.  

Meanwhile . . . we plot, plan, dream, and fantasize about how beautiful our gardens will be this summer.  

We bundle up, pull up our hoods, and do our daily garden inspection for some sign of life.  Look closely.  Bend down.  Squint.  Nope.  Move a few feet.  Bend.  Squint.  Bend further.  Yes!  There it is!  A little green shoot, barely visible, but boldly making its appearance in the garden!

Very soon now, green shoots will be everywhere.  And, once again, the promise of flowers and warmer days will come true.

Check out my Etsy shop here to find out about commissioning 
an original and affordable custom portrait of your family home!

Monday, March 31, 2014


I think it might actually be SPRING in Wisconsin!  That has me thinking about gardens, grass, and leaves on the trees . . . all three of which would be a welcome sight around here.  I've gotten away a few times this winter and it STILL seems like it's been an exceptionally long winter.

Spring makes me think of my mom and how she always welcomed it with open arms.  Winters are hard on the elderly and she was no exception.  While I was painting this journal page, I was thinking about her and the fond memories I have of going to England together.  She loved that country so much - and would often tell me how she would be open to moving to some cobbled little village and living there for two or three months . . . all by herself!  Oh, how I miss that amazing lady!

 Yesterday, I enjoyed a visit to the Milwaukee Art Museum with a good friend.  It was the last day of, "ART IN BLOOM", featuring beautiful flower stands, flower art, and everything that related to spring, all set amongst the paintings in the museum.  Such a fun day - thank you Gwen! 

We're going for a high of 62 today!  That will feel incredible and I plan on poking around my gardens looking for signs of life.  

This quote says it all.

"It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold:  when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade."  -Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

Check out my Etsy shop here, to find out about commissioning 
an original, and affordable custom portrait of your family home!



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