Last day on the Isle of Skye. Our tour guide pulled over as the clouds parted. All 9 of us stumbled out of the ‘Wee Red Bus’ to snap a few farewell photos. Two couples were from Hong Kong, one from India, another from Singapore, and one gal from Malaysia. The couple from India were celebrating their honeymoon. The gal from Malaysia was proud of her selfie stick. The couple from Hong Kong brought along a stuffed pink pig and a purple cow. They propped their animals on old wooden fence posts, amidst the grassy hills of an ancient battlefield, along the banks of Loch Ness, and at the base of the Black Cullen mountains. The pig and the cow smiled for the camera every time. Their plastic painted eyes maintained jovial expressions through wind, rain, and a tumble down a rocky hillside.
You need to be tough to make it through a Scottish winter, but it also helps to be ‘stuffed’.
I stepped outside this morning, on the coldest day of the year. A distant airplane engine rattled through a bitter sky. The arctic sun cast long blue shadows behind barren trees. Skeletons of deciduous forests reached into the clouds. The air was sharp and my throat grew tight. Someone burned firewood nearby. The neighborhood was frozen, the homes exhaled. Not a soul or living creature was in sight. The only trace of life was a series of bunny tracks meandering around the front yard. Even our dog snubbed his nose at the frigid air and curled up on the couch.
This season is especially tough in Minnesota, but I’m counting on my Scandinavian roots to get me through winter. I’m using this time to slow down and take care of myself and my loved ones. I’m choosing to embrace the cold dark nights with wool sweaters, a busy tea kettle, home-made ‘hotdish’ and walks with our dog in the snow.
We had our first real snow storm a few days ago. Instead of hunkering indoors, I drove to a huge wooded park and walked around taking photos of the sparkling wonderland. The anxious voice in the back of my mind worried about getting stranded alone in a strange park, or somehow losing my keys after a long hike in the cold. But I did just fine in my parka. My boots crunched through the snow as I made my way around a lake. My body warmed and I enjoyed being in motion. I found inspiration in the winter foliage and purity in the exposed and vulnerable landscape. I liked being alone under a sky of a billion white flakes.
So I plan on having more winter adventures. Inspiration happens when you seek it, and I think I’m finally starting to appreciate the beauty of winter more than ever before. This watercolor of white winter birch trees was inspired by the birch in my backyard!
I’m excited to introduce my latest collection of nursery prints! This set of fine art prints includes a baby hippo, elephant and giraffe. Each little animal was hand painted using Holbein Watercolors (my favorite paint!). Prints of this collection are available in my etsy shop. The aqua color can be customized to coordinate with your decor.
Woodland watercolor animal prints
I am super excited about these two collections of nursery print sets! Due to popular demand, I’ve added new baby animals to each collection of woodland and safari themed sets. Follow me on instagram for a peek into my latest paintings before they make it to my etsy shop!
One afternoon, I was shopping at Blick’s (my favorite art store) and I discovered an awesome set of watercolor paint. It’s called QOR, and they make incredibly vivid and bright watercolors with surprising transparency. I made a few free form paintings with layers of orange, pink, and yellow. The colors truly shine on a good quality watercolor paper such as Canson or Arches cold pressed. After making a few ombre sunsets, I thought it would be fun to make animal shapes out of them. Out came my pens and pencils and a few sketches later I joined my watercolor background images with my hand drawn animal shapes in photoshop!
So there you have it, the origin of my sunset moose painting. I like the way his antlers turned out! He is available in printed form on high quality archival paper in my etsy shop. He also has a matching bear friend available in the same sunset watercolors.
Back to my obsession with Blick’s… The reason I love this store so much? All of the people who work there are artists too, and some of them are just as awkward as I am 🙂 They have workshops on weekends where you can learn new painting techniques and try out supplies. And, AND they don’t make you feel weird for spending 47 minutes in the paint aisle. Blick’s is a porthole into a dimension where time ceases to exist. I’ve never seen a clock in the store. This is my happy place. When I finally check out with bags of creativity supplies, the sun is a few notches lower in the sky, and I’ve forgotten to eat lunch again.
Any questions? Please email me and I’d be happy to help! Or follow me on instagram for my latest paintings and watercolor tips.