This Artsy Life Tools

Makeshift. Backpacking With Watercolors.

Do you remember the scene in Wild where Reese Witherspoon can’t stand up under the weight of her pack?  Every backpacker knows that weight is everything.  Every ounce you add to your pack is an additional strain on your legs and back as you hike, which makes what should be an amazing, beautiful experience painfully agonizing. 

Mr. F & I splurged on a brand new pack for me and decided at the last minute to take a quick overnighter along the Elwha River Trail in  Olympic National Park.  

Me and my pack, Elwha River

It was so last minute, I didn’t have a tiny sketchbook to carry with me and I wanted to be able to do some watercolors when we had downtime.  So industrious artsy that I am, I decided to create a makeshift watercolor kit for backpacking.

First task– create a sketchbook.  The Mr.’s job recruiter recently came to visit & brought us some branded goodies– among them a few pocket journals, which just happened to be the perfect size for backpacking (remember, size matters! ha!).  I ripped out the lined journal paper, then cut a few pieces of Canson Mixed Media paper to size, securing them inside with a heavy rubber band, recycled from grocery-bought veggie bundles (I always keep some on hand, they come in so handy!)

Photo May 30, 12 11 25 PM

It worked perfectly– and as an added bonus, it is lighter than a moleskin would be and the pages will be easily removable as I fill them– so it will continue to lighten the more I hike & paint! 

Onto the paint itself. I already had a super light weight flower-shaped watercolor palette with a lightweight cover. So I filled the wells with my favorite tube colors and let them dry out before packing them up.  I zipped the palette up in a ziploc, to protect all my other things just in case there was any paint leakage.  

Photo May 30, 12 10 36 PM

A small, inexpensive brush is sufficient for tiny quick sketches. I hacked off about an inch from the end so that it would fit easily in a quart-sized ziploc with my sketchbook without bending the bristles. That ziploc was then placed inside the freezer-sized ziploc with my palette and a small plastic water cup. I also bring along a folded paper towel for blotting. Viva brand towels work best– light and super absorbent, so I can do lots of blotting and cleaning up without soaking the towel through.


Everything worked like a charm!  I may eventually switch out the palette for something more secure, perhaps with a larger mixing area (I like this option, the thumb hole would make it much easier to hold onto), but for now, it does the trick.  We’re hoping to do another overnighter this weekend along the Sol Duc River, follow me on Instagram for photos!

Here’s a clip of me getting ready for a backpacking adventure.. :-) 

Artsy Happenings

Opening! Enormous Tiny Art #21

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on some new SCINTILLA paintings, just in time to be included in the Enormous Tiny Art Show #21 opening this Friday, March 3rd at Nahcotta Gallery in Portsmouth, NH!

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scintilla 14, 2017, acrylic on cradled wood panel, 4x4x1.5

This new group of SCINTILLA mini paintings are a bit of a departure from the last group– still minimal in design and palette, but instead of varying the hues with each painting, I kept to a seaside color scheme, inspired by the Puget Sound and the coastal Northeast.

You can see the new series in person at Nahcotta or check them all out online here!  The show runs through April 2nd and all the work is available to purchase both in the gallery and online.

Image by me.


The Artsy Nature

Looking. Winter.

In all my years growing up and as an adult in Florida, I longed for cold winters.  I dreamed of snowy days and cozy nights, only getting small doses on quick trips North.  Since traveling through the West and Northwest for almost six (!!) years, I’m finally experiencing the seasons as I always hoped to.  


I hear people complain about the cold and snow, but for me, it never ceases to be magical.


 The streets are quiet, all the bustle of life slows and is muted.


Colors become deeper and more saturated.  


 Everything sparkles.


Expanses of white bring colors and textures to the forefront, giving them room to breathe, space to show off.  This interaction informs and inspires my work more and more as I seek to create paintings that emanate that same sense of peace and quiet.

All images by me.

Artsy Reads

Reading. Through The Flower.

It’s been a bit since I’ve shared what I’m reading with you!  I just finished Judy Chicago’s Through The Flower and wanted to share some quick thoughts I took from her early experiences as a female artist.


If you see a need, fill it.


image found here

Frustrated with the patriarchal structure of the art world, in 1970 Chicago took a faculty position with Fresno State College to teach a women-only art program.  The groundbreaking Feminist Art Program provided female artists a platform for creating artwork specific to their experiences as women.  

Know the past to find the future.


the dinner party, 1974-1979

image found here 

For several years, Chicago immersed herself in the study of other female artists working in abstraction.  There is truly nothing new under the sun, but looking back at how other women created and functioned in the male dominated world (both the art world and the world at large) helped give the artist the confidence and commitment to create her own visual language and tradition.

Be true to you.


queen victoria, 1972

image found here 

In her early years, Chicago heard a professor tell her class that women had made no contributions to art history.  This, along with a sense of equality and justice instilled by her father, propelled her to work tirelessly not only to become an important artist but to become an important, inherently feminine artist.  Chicago’s style of feminism is very direct, while the work of other female artists can be more subtle.  

As an artist, I find myself feeling like I should be making important statements with my work.  But as a person, I’ve never been one for overt statements, though I have definite opinions.  Over time, Chicago found her voice.  I hope to do the same.

Top image by me.  Other image sources linked above.


The Artsy Everyday

Listening. Podcasts.

When I’m in the studio, I’m always listening to something– just what depends on my mood and what I’m working on.  Sometimes it’s music, sometimes podcasts.  I have a few “go-to” podcasts that I really enjoy and thought you might like a listen if you haven’t tried them out already!

When I’m looking for artistic conversation–

Art For Your Ear


We all know Danielle Krysa as a champion of artists, but it turns out she is also a fantastic interviewer!  Danielle spends time chatting with artists over coffee or an adult beverage, getting the low down on their backgrounds, artistic inspirations and aspirations, and fun tidbits like whether they prefer potato chips or chocolate.  I’ll take chocolate covered chips!

Gently Does It

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A painter with a sincere appreciation for the ins and outs of the studio work of other painters, John Dalton’s podcast Gently Does It, is a joy to listen to, especially for gaining insight into the minds of some of the best painters working today.  I have a few favorites that I’ve listened to multiple times including Ep. 30 pictured above featuring Alyssa Monks and Ep. 26 and 27 with Ali Cavanaugh.

Curate Joshua Tree


I have a soft spot for Joshua Tree, California.  If you’ve been a longtime reader of AF, you may remember, Mr. F & I spent six months living in JT a few years ago.  Joshua Tree has a distinctly creative vibe, which attracts all sorts of artsy folks to the high desert.  Emily Silver interviews local JT area artists in their studios, which adds a layer of familiarity to her interviews that isn’t there among the podcasts in which interviewer/interviewee are separated by miles.  The artists and Emily both continue to remind me of what an inspiring and magical place Joshua Tree can be.

When I’m yearning for the wilderness–

She Explores


Gale Straub’s She Explores podcast centers around the experiences of women in the outdoors.  Artists, entrepreneurs, and thru-hikers are among her interviewees.  Each bringing their own unique experience to the podcast.  Listening to the SE podcast makes me want to get outside and if you take your inspiration from nature, like I do, I promise you’ll be inspired!

When I just want something interesting & fun–

YHL Has a Podcast


I’ve been a reader of Young House Love longer than any other blog I’ve followed.  Even from before they were YHL (I remember This Young House!).  Anyone who reads their DIY blog knows these two are super fun and super cute.  Listening to them is like hanging out in your best friend’s kitchen.

Dear Sugar


Wild author Cheryl Strayed joins Steve Almond in dispensing advice to Dear Sugar listeners on this weekly podcast.  Smart and insightful, this one is a favorite when I’m gessoing! 

In addition to these favorites, there are also the NPR standards, This American Life and Fresh Air.

So tell me, are you a podcast listener?  Any favorites I should know about?  Tell me in the comments!

My Paintings Process

Practice. #watercolorsandcoffee

They say practice makes perfect, right?  Last year’s #100littleartworks project brought me not only a love of watercolors but also to the appreciation for daily creativity, even on the busiest of days.  At the end of last year, I began to cultivate the habit of creating everyday, usually in the morning over my second cup of coffee.  And so #watercolorsandcoffee was begun!  

12 | 20 | 16 #watercolorsandcoffee 12 | 21 | 16 #watercolorsandcoffee 12 | 26 | 16 #watercolorsandcoffee

Ordering more moleskin sketchbooks today!  Follow along on Instagram under the hashtag #watercolorsandcoffee!

Images by me.

My Paintings


It’s that time of year for reflecting on the past twelve months.  2016 had it’s troubles for sure, but it was my most creatively productive year yet– a trend I plan to continue into the next! 

2016-collage-1 2016-collage-2 2016-collage-3 2016-collage-4

acrylic paintings completed 64

I began the year working furiously toward completing work for LATITUDE, my first solo show at Art & Light Gallery.  The show was a smashing success, which proved to be a huge blessing and a bit of a stumbling block– I had to get over a bit of the “sophomore slump” after LATITUDE.  I dove nearly straight away into a new series, VENTERS, a quiet, coastal inspired series.  Looking back over VENTERS, I can see myself searching for where I wanted to go with that group of work and the shift that took place over those months.  We spent the summer in Edmonds, WA, just a mile from Puget Sound, which took the initial inspiration of the Oregon & California coast and morphed it into the more quiet peace of the Salish Sea.

While working on VENTERS, I began a series of tiny, monochromatic paintings, SCINTILLA.  These baby paintings began as a creative exercise to fill the minutes while waiting for paint to dry.  But I’ve grown addicted to making them!  I was thrilled when they were accepted by Elliott Fouts Gallery for their Small Gems show, which is still up through January 5th!

We spent the Fall living on a small lake in Western Washington, which added fuel to my newest series, ECHOES.  Before we left Edmonds, I’d already had the idea of exploring water reflections in my next body of work and it seemed like fate that we ended up living on a lake!  We’ve since moved on to Tacoma, but I’m ending 2016 very focused on pouring out all the inspiration I found at the lake during those months.  





watercolor paintings completed 110+

A big surprise for me in 2016 was the result of a 100 day painting project.  I participated in the #the100dayproject on Instagram and it led to discovering a love for watercolor painting.  I began the project with a few small acrylic paintings, but as we were moving the next week, I decided to move to watercolors for their easy accessibility and clean up.  And a love affair was born!  A goal for 2017 will be to create larger watercolors on paper and experiment with different substrates.  I’m not sure I’ll ever give up acrylics but I do love the softness and gracefulness I’ve found with this new medium.

As an artist, I often find myself taking my work too seriously, so I made strides this year toward making time for creative play.  #the100dayproject kicked this off, but after I finished the 100 days, I found myself searching for other avenues, specifically ways to combine painting and natural elements, resulting in #foragescapes and #encirclings.





I couldn’t write a review of my year as an artist without mentioning time spent in the wild.  Mr. F and I spent a lot of time hiking and camping the North Cascades  over the summer, as well as walking down to the Puget Sound countless times while we were in Edmonds.  We hiked in the Olympics, Mount Rainier, the Columbia River Gorge, and Goat Rocks Wilderness among so many others.  Each place we go enters my subconsciousness and I see them emerging from my brush, uncontrollably.


While 2016 ended with a feeling of uncertainty of the future for so many of us, we forge ahead.  I’m excited to be back in the studio post-Christmas holiday working on a commission for a Florida designer and finishing four ECHOES paintings on panel, planning for the next and ordering supplies.  

I have my goals for the next year and after seeing such growth last year, I’m beyond excited for what 2017 has in store.  I wish the same for you!  

One goal will be getting back to sharing in this space more often!  Hope to see you more frequently in the new year!


Daily Artsy



31 of 100, watercolor on vellum, 6×6

This holiday season has been such a blur!  The Mr. is down with a cold, so we’ll be laying low these next few days and I must say, I can’t wait to just be quiet and still.

I wish you all peace and love this holiday!

Happy Christmas!

Artsy Happenings Exhibitions My Paintings


If you’re following along with me on Instagram, you may have seen a new series of tiny paintings I’ve been creating, SCINTILLA.

These 4″ square works on deep cradled wood panel began as an exercise to fill the time while larger paintings dried.  I always find myself falling in love with the earliest stage of a painting– the stage in which I paint in a monochromatic palette to work out basic light, contrast, and composition.   So I thought these little pieces would be the perfect avenue to explore those monochromes as finished work.


Beginning with one color, then adding white and grey for light and contrast, the compositions emerge intuitively.  I try not to begin with a set idea in mind, but instead allow a trace of a landscape to emerge slowly.


The first eight of the SCINTILLA paintings are currently hanging at Elliott Fouts Gallery in Sacramento as part of their Small Gems show!  Check out the EFG website for pricing and contact information for the gallery.

I’m looking forward to creating more in this series after I get settled into my new studio in Tacoma. Oh yeah, did I not mention we’re headed to Tacoma for the next six months?  :-)

I’ll check in again once we get settled!  Meanwhile, check out the SCINTILLA series and all the other Small Gems on the EFG website!

This Artsy Life



I admit, I get a bit jealous when I see artists participating in a fabulous residency in a beautiful place.  I’ve applied for a few myself, knowing that with my still limited professional artist experience, gaining a spot in one is a long shot.

But as I was unpacking in our new temporary lakeside home in Washington, it occurred to me– I am in a new “residency” every 3-6 months!  Every new place brings with it new experiences and new inspirations, so why not treat each one as my own independent residency?

This place especially, has my creative juices flowing thanks to the beautiful little lake on which we sit. Not to mention the trees, the rocks, the sky.. There is so much to take in!

While I’m here “in residence” on Offut Lake, I’ll be working on a new series, ECHOES, inspired by reflections in water.  This idea was already germinating at the end of the VENTERS series and when I began to see how the reflections in the lake change throughout the day, I knew I had found my muse.

Image by me.