I just got back from a walk around our neighborhood and let me tell you, spring’s in the air! The sun’s shining (yes, the forecast is back to rain tomorrow but I’m soaking it up today!) and the yellow daffodils are adding bright splashes of color all over the neighborhood. I’ve even seen some blossom flower buds on the trees.
While on my walk, I couldn’t help but watch a squirrel for a few minutes. It was very busy picking long strands of woodsy fiber from disintegrated, old sticks off the side of a street and trying to gather them into a ball to make it easier to carry.
Not an easy task when the strands are long and you have to climb up a tree! But this little squirrel was amazingly adept at it. Once it made it to its nest, I watched how some of the strands got snagged by a branch and the ball unravelled…. the squirrel was determined, though, and didn’t let this setback thwart its effort to build a safe and warm nest for its babies. Quite inspiring!
Plopping down to get back to work after my walk, I had a question pop into my mind. Possibly getting a bit silly with the word jokes, I started thinking about this:
How do you put more SPRING in your step?
For me, it often feels like a fine balance between being productive but not overwhelmed. If I’m not being productive, it’s easy to start feeling lost, disconnected, or discouraged. This is not because there’s not enough work to do because you know as well as I do, there’s always work to do! It often comes from lack of clarity about the work to do or even not wanting to do the work in front of me as it’s not the type that provides me joy and energy.
On the other hand, if I have too much on my plate, I feel overwhelmed and anxious. Sometimes, life throws stuff at us that we don’t have control over but other times, we just try to tackle too much at once.
In my experience, I feel best when I can plug away at work that’s important to me and gives me joy. When the work matches my skill set well and makes me feel proud of what I can contribute. Even better if it gets me closer and helps me to make progress towards accomplishing a long-term goal.
At the beginning of this year, I set myself the goal to paint 20 hummingbird paintings by the end of March. As of today, I’ve finished 12 paintings. I feel good about the work I’ve done, the lessons I’ve learned and the progress I’ve made towards my goal.
What about you?
How do you work best? What type of work gives you energy and joy? Do you have any long-term projects you’re working on? How do you balance your work load so you feel productive without feeling overwhelmed?
Also, thinking of the squirrel and its challenges, how do we respond when we deal with challenges in our work? What helps us stay on course and determined to accomplish our goals and make our dreams a reality?
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for sharing!
Winter. What does it look like where you live?
In the Pacific Northwest, a typical winter day mostly brings grey skies and rain but this morning, we’re waiting for a big snowstorm to roll in. The first flurries have started falling from the sky as I write this but it’s still having a hard time sticking.
Our daughter has been fervently hoping for snow and is pleadingly looking at the sky to encourage those flurries to create the winter wonderland she’s been hoping for. Even without getting snow days off school due to virtual distance learning this year, she’s excited.
Seeing photos from friends and family on social media, my birth country of the Netherlands has also been blanketed by snow these past few days. It’s been very cold there and the ice is now thick enough on the rivers for people to ice skate. I have such wonderful childhood memories of skating on our neighborhood pond with all the kids from school.
One year a long time ago (we were in our 20’s and just married!), my husband and I visited my family in winter. We got lucky and it was cold enough for ice skating outside. Near my hometown is an area known for its many windmills. We headed out with my dad, put on our skates on the edge of the river and carefully stepped on to the slick ice. It always takes a minute to adjust but soon, we were off! We skated for miles past old windmills and little booths on the ice, selling hot choco and split pea soup.
Thinking back of this special memory, I might just have to make a hot drink right now…. it’s so cozy to snuggle up with a mug while it’s cold outside!
What special memories do you have from winters past? What’s a typical winter day where you live? Do you like snow?
Please share in the comments. Would love to hear from you!
P.S. I’ve been working on a series of hummingbird paintings. You can follow along on my instagram page!
Happy New Year!
Phew! We made it to 2021! I hope your holiday season was filled with the magic of twinkling lights and a warm, cozy feeling. I realized that this new year would start with some of the same challenges of 2020, but the first week of 2021 was intense!
I spent time at the end of last year reflecting on my personal goals for this year and I’m really excited to share them with you. There’s something about putting your dreams on paper that makes them feel more tangible and attainable. Goal setting can provide some structure too when the chaos, unpredictability and complexity of the world around us makes it so hard to focus.
In that spirit, I want to encourage you to reflect on what your calling might be, what you feel passionate about, where you feel you can make a positive difference, and what gets you fired up to jump out of bed in the morning!
I have two big personal goals that I want to focus on this first quarter:
1. Finish the Oregon Master Naturalist course
I’ve really been enjoying learning more about my beautiful state and building a foundation of knowledge in a wide variety of nature-related science topics. I’m especially looking forward to the wildlife unit which will be taught in February. Can’t wait! As part of this program I’ll be giving back to my community through volunteer work. I’ll keep you posted on where this journey will lead.
2. Create 20 hummingbird paintings by the end of March
I really loved painting hummingbirds last year so I want to lean into and explore this subject even more. I’ve become so curious about hummingbirds that I’ve started reading about them. They’re fascinating! I’m planning on sharing tidbits of what I learn with you. Keeping my fingers crossed that you like hummingbirds too! :) I’ll be posting progress of my hummingbird art project on instagram if you’d like to follow along.
Do you enjoy goal setting and planning? What are your main personal goals as we head into this new year? What are you excited about in 2021?
Would love it if you share in the comments! Thanks!
We’ve somehow almost made it to the end of this year! Am I the only one who feels this year has been the strangest time warp?
While this year has had plenty of heartache and uncertainty, I wanted to share
three highlights of my year with you:
The Sketchbook Project
I started 2020 working on a sketchbook that my friend gave me as a Christmas gift. This sketchbook was part of a larger, global creative movement called “The Sketchbook Project.” With input from my instagram community, I decided to create illustrations around the theme of “simple joys.”
Once completed, I sent my sketchbook to become part of the Brooklyn Art Library. Due to the pandemic, it took awhile for them to include my work in their digital library but it was very recently published. So exciting! Would love it if you take a peek here and favorite it if you feel inclined.
Growing and Learning
This year, I spent considerable amount of time reflecting on my art journey, educating myself as well as exploring with color and shapes. I worked mostly with acrylic paint and decided that play was my therapy for not only getting through this tough year, but also helpful in figuring out where I want to go with my art.
I’ll share more about my goals for the new year soon but it definitely felt like my art went through a strong transition period this year. I designed a new logo and completely updated my artist website. Seems like this will always be a “work in progress” but I’m much happier with how it looks now.
I started an online art gallery with Fine Art America (see the paintings tab) to provide my customers with more options for art prints, framing and gift items. This is also where you can see which original artwork pieces are available.
So if you have any blank walls that could use some joyful art, I’d feel honored to help you!
If you follow me on instagram, you often see me posting pics of weird mushrooms and beautiful Pacific Northwest nature. I love exploring the woods with my family and most often find my “simple joys” in nature.
During the fall of 2019, I took an online course through Oregon State University as a first step towards becoming a certified Oregon Master Naturalist. The next step was the field course which was unfortunately (along with many other things) cancelled for spring 2020. Thankfully, OSU decided to offer this course as a hybrid this winter. I was admitted to the course (yay!) and recently started with a combination of zoom calls and homework in the field on my own.
Just like with anything, the more you learn about something, the less you feel you know…. so I’m not going to be a nature expert anytime soon but I feel really good about becoming a more educated advocate for our natural environment and finding a way to give back to my community through the volunteer work I’ll be doing.
I’d love to hear about YOUR reflections on the year.
Did you learn something new? Gained a new insight? Became curious about something? Found a new medium to express yourself creatively? Fell in love with someone or a new pet? Celebrated a milestone or special anniversary? Became an advocate for something you’re passionate about? Learned what gave you most joy and peace during this difficult year?
I read all my comments so please share!
Finally, thank you so much for your support and encouragement! It truly means the world to me!
Wishing you and your family the most joyful holiday season!
I don’t remember exactly how old I was but I distinctly remember the trepidation I felt when my grandpa suggested that I climb the ladder. First of all, I’ve never been a fan of ladders. Not sure why but they kind of freak me out. Secondly, this ladder was leaning against their garage and on top of their flat roofed garage was a box. The box was a bee hive. And tons of bees were flying in and out of the box. Like…. a lot of them!
My grandpa was a beekeeper. And perfectly comfortable around so many bees. While I was nervous about his suggestion, I trusted my grandpa. Plus he was right there next to me. So, I carefully took that first step up the ladder. And then another one. Before I knew it, my face was even with the box and honey bees were flying all around me! They didn’t seem bothered by my presence and seemed too occupied with their work to care. I was very careful to stand still.
Soon my trepidation was replaced by an overwhelming sense of wonder and awe.
As I grew older, I learned how to tell the difference between honey bees, bumblebees and hornets. I’m not afraid of bees now. In fact, I’ve only become more amazed by them and grateful for them.
This year, I’ve taken on a more intuitive style of painting. I realize it might sound a bit wacky but I allow the paintings to guide me “what they want to be” instead of starting out with a subject in mind. It’s been a fascinating journey to say the least.
While I took artistic liberty in painting the bee in my newest artwork “Free to Bee,” my childhood memory of standing on that ladder while my grandpa shared his lovely bees with me, came back to me strongly.
I allowed the linen canvas to shine through on one of the corners of the painting as I liked the natural feeling it gave to the painting.
“Free to Bee”
16” x 20”
Acrylic Painting on Linen
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in the original art.
Art prints in a variety of sizes, home decor and gifts available in my online art gallery
Are you fascinated with bees? Grateful for the important work they do? Love honey?!
I’d love to hear from you!
Thank you for following my art journey!
P.S. For a sprinkle of joy in your inbox, consider joining my email community below. I like to share happy surprises, exclusive content and sneak peeks!
It’s November! It’s my birthday month and the trees are changing colors making the Pacific Northwest even more magical than it typically already is. I have a really exciting announcement to share with you!
This year has been so challenging for many of us. I had this feeling that I wanted to do something joyful and uplifting to counteract all the hard stuff. So when Melissa AuClair from The Creative Season asked me if I was interested in being a speaker at an online summit she was organizing, it felt SO right and I immediately jumped at the opportunity!
“The Christmas Collective” is an online retreat for women happening virtually from November 11-14, 2020, before the intensity of the holiday season starts. With a variety of workshops covering a range of topics from creative activities to home decorating and memory making, I know you’ll find something you’ll be super into and have tons of new ideas and inspiration to make Christmas extra meaningful this year.
As you might have guessed, my workshop will be all about celebrating the simple joys at Christmas. O, and did I mention you can sign up right now… for free?!
If you’d like to learn more, here is the link to the Christmas Collective registration page.
Being familiar with Melissa’s work and having such a wonderful line up of women speakers, I’m so sure this conference will add joy to finish your year on a positive note.
Hope you’re enjoying all the beauty fall has to offer. Please let me know if the comments if you've signed up for the event. Would love to hear from you!
Thanks for joining me on this journey!
The Christmas Collective was so fun! It gave me and so many other women a chance to connect and feel inspired with new ideas. As part of my workshop, I offered a giveaway of a set of wood burned ornaments. I wanted to share the winner of the giveaway (selected by computer generated name pick): it’s Sharon Dobbs from Virginia!
I really appreciate all the women who watched my workshop and reached out to me with such kind, encouraging comments. Thank you! Also big time thanks to Melissa AuClair from the Creative Season for organizing such a fabulous online summit!
I’m so excited to share my new painting collection with you!! So much is involved with launching an art collection but I’m so pleased with how this collection came together.
I named this collection “From Shore to Field” as it celebrates the simple joys found in nature from the salty coast to lovely mountain meadows. I worked in a limited color palette for these pieces with warm, more muted colors as we head into the colder months of the year.
This collection evokes feelings of calm and serenity. I used an intuitive style of painting and believe this is what I needed during this year of complexity and uncertainty. I hope they'll have a calming, uplifting impact on you as well.
Also, these paintings remind us of those moments when we realize that beauty is around us on even the most ordinary of days.
All artwork was painted with acrylic paint on canvas and kept unframed so you can choose a frame style that matches your home or office decor.
16 x 20 in.
16 x 20 in.
8 x 10 in.
16 x 20 in.
Shipping & Handling:
Domestic orders: $25
International orders: estimated based on destination country.
For local orders in the Portland metro area, delivery is complimentary.
I’d love to hear which one of these paintings speaks to you most and which one is your favorite. If you're interested in any one of these paintings, these are original artwork so only one of them is available. Please email me at email@example.com if you have any questions.
This is a season of a lot of emotions. A global pandemic, presidential election year for us in the U.S., racial tensions and injustice happening… Raising kids has never been easy but this year has added a whole level of complexity for us parents.
I hope and truly believe that we will come out better, not just by listening with our ears, but with an open and compassionate heart during this time.
What am I doing to continue focusing on keeping my heart open and compassionate? To not become overwhelmed with bitter and angry feelings? I’m definitely not perfect at this but decided to write down a list of ideas that will hopefully help me as we’re heading into increased tension this fall.
I’m sharing it with you in case you find it helpful too.
Okay.... My 10 Ideas:
1. Educate yourself with news sources that dedicate themselves to reporting as objectively as possible. Avoid news stations that tend to have a partisan slant. My go-to news source is NPR or OPB.
2. Stop using or drastically limit facebook. If you like connecting with certain groups on facebook (like me), visit those directly without scrolling the newsfeed. Because you know you’ll see that post from that one person, riddled with misinformation and inflammatory statements which will make it really difficult to sleep or keep your calm…
3. Take workshops, read books and listen to people directly to better understand their feelings and perspectives.
4. Pay close attention to how you’re feeling. When your feelings are strong and negative, ask yourself what it is that’s making you feel this way? While some of these feelings are necessary and/or unavoidable, you at times do have control over what causes these feelings. Can you limit the amount of news you’re watching? Need to minimize the flow of information coming at you? Take a break from social media? Maybe limit your interactions with certain people? Plan your schedule in such a way to leave space for extra self care or activities that give you joy?
5. Find ways to get involved by making a difference. Is there a way to turn your angry feelings about an injustice into something positive? What can you do to make a positive impact on those issues you care about? Which specific actions would leave the world a better place?
6. When you feel overwhelmed with the uncertainty of a particular situation, are there any aspects you do have control over?
7. Make a list of activities you can do when you need to take a break. For example: go outside, listen to a favorite song, call a friend, etc.
8. Make time for creativity. Don’t put expectations on yourself for the outcome but do it for yourself, for the process. I tell you, art heals. So does making music, kneading bread, sculpting with clay… work with your hands to heal your heart.
9. Breathe… yes, sometimes I forget so I figure it’s probably a good idea to write it down
10. Don’t look too far into the future but focus on the now. What can you do today that will make tomorrow better for you, your family and others?
Do you feel the increased tension too? Do you have any ideas to add to this list? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Thanks for following my journey!
Does the coming of the fall season make you want to declutter and organize too? I realize most people refer to SPRING cleaning but I recently had this crazy burst of energy and motivation to turn my art studio upside down and make it a more workable space.
My art studio is in a part of our back porch. Even though the space is not well insulated and too cold to work in winter, it works well for most of the year in our mild Pacific Northwest climate. Since I used to do a lot of stained glass mosaic, I didn’t have to worry about little glass shards on the wooden floor.
Now that I’m painting more, it's nice not having to worry about paint getting into our carpet or on furnishings. I just love spending time in my creative space surrounded by art books and art supplies.
The best part about being in the back porch is that I can look out and see birds in the bird bath, and hummingbird flying by in the garden. These encounters inspire me when I paint.
My art studio also held tons of little kids art supplies from when our kids were little. They were cluttering the drawers and shelves big time. Somehow (and way too fast), our kids have grown into teenagers and they aren’t going to be playing with any of those supplies anytime soon anymore….
Going through them was really kind of bitter sweet as the items reminded me of time we spent creating together when they were itsy-bitsy. But I also realized that being an artist, I apparently LOVED buying them art supplies! Too much stuff!
I decided to donate all the art supplies we didn’t need anymore through our neighborhood “buy nothing” group so I felt good about a neighbor with little kids being able to use the items.
After I decluttered all the art supplies that weren’t being used, the space felt so much better! I organized the supplies in bins and drawers I already had but that now had enough space to hold them. I also cleaned all the dusty surfaces and swept the floor. Ahhhh…. it felt like new again!
I instantly felt motivated to go to work! I like being surrounded by all my little knick knacks and I’d say the space is still not very minimalist but now I can actually find things. Ha!
I’m currently working on a new painting collection and have a large easel on my desk. These pics of my art studio were taken right after I cleaned. I wanted to share that moment of joy with you!
Do you find joy in creating art? Would you consider yourself more of an artsy or crafty person? Did you enjoy seeing the "behind the scenes" of my art studio? Would love to hear from you in the comments!
Thank you for following my art journey!
A cup of coffee and a few minutes to catch up on happenings in the world.
After reading a few NPR news articles, I ended up scrolling my facebook feed. I have to say, I’m not a big fan of facebook. My favorite time spent on the app is in some of the groups I belong to where I learn and share about art and living a creative life. I enjoy meeting fellow artists this way, especially in this year of social distancing, and learning new tips and techniques.
However, this day found me mindlessly scrolling my feed. Most days, this is a complete waste of time and leaves me not feeling any better than when I started. But among the endless posts, there was a nugget of pure wisdom from a person who is not a super close friend, but who I admire a lot for her warmth, spiritual insights and perspective on life. Just had to share it with you.
Besides the general gist of the post being about how the world really needs more kindness right now (something I wholeheartedly agree with), I found these words:
Do the next loving thing.
I don’t know who first said or wrote these words to give them proper credit but what a simple, yet empowering concept.
When life gets tough, do the next loving thing.
When you’re confused, do the next loving thing.
When you feel overwhelmed, do the next loving thing.
When someone is hurting, do the next loving thing.
When you’re the one hurting, do the next loving thing (yes, taking care of your own body and heart is a loving thing to do too).
I realize it’s sometimes hard to know what the next loving thing to do is, especially when someone you love is hurting but in many situations, the simplicity of these words can bring clarity to help you move forward.
So, this is my resolution today: to keep these words close to heart as I move through my days. Do these words resonate with you too? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Thanks for joining me on this journey!