Friday, June 23, 2017

Amber Leilani -- A Sketchbook Conversation

Today I wanted to change gears a bit. I've been sharing some very beautiful sketchbooks lately, which, I know, is part of the point of my series. I want to showcase artists who are doing beautiful things. Visually appealing sketchbook pages and spreads are inspiring and I do want to inspire you. But I also think that focusing so much on beautiful layouts and designs has a flip side, unintended consequences. Seeing example after example of gorgeous, curated images can be intimidating. When we sit down to work in our own sketchbooks it's daunting when we have such an ideal in our heads. When we create a page that doesn't live up to those examples we can feel frustrated or discouraged.

The sketchbooks we see on social media, and, certainly, here, are carefully curated. The artists choose the best imagery to share. The pages where they're working out designs or where the lines are a bit wonky or where they're experimenting with something new... those pages aren't shared so often. Abigail Halpin mentioned this in her Conversation a couple weeks ago. And it makes sense. Someone who makes their living from their art wants to showcase their best work. Keeping a working sketchbook private makes sense for other reasons, too. Sharon Rohloff, who chatted about her sketchbooks with us last year uses hers as "a secret vault of future work". Something else that it makes sense to keep private.

If we don't see (and don't talk about) those rougher sketchbooks, those working pages, those practice spreads, we're missing out on a huge category of sketchbooks from which to draw inspiration. I know Sharon and Abigail aren't the only artists from Sketchbook Conversations to talk about using sketchbooks in this way (Melissa HyattJaime Haney and Pat Scheurich are a few others), but if I look back through the posts from this series, the examples weigh heavily on the side of beautifully curated pages.

I think it's important to remember that there is more than one way to keep a sketchbook. In fact, one of my intentions for Sketchbook Conversations is to stress the point that there is no wrong way to keep a sketchbook. I want you to be inspired to embrace your own way of working, your own style. I want you to have the confidence to experiment and play. I want to free you from intimidation so that when you sit down with the blank sketchbook page you're not stopped in your tracks by fear. Sketchbooks are often about practice. And practice can be messy. Allow yourself to be messy!

Whew! That was a long intro, but I think it's important to talk about. I don't want you, if you're working in your own sketchbook, to compare yourself and your sketchbook pages with other artists and feel discouraged.

This is not to say that Amber, my guest today, keeps sketchbooks that aren't beautiful (they are!). Amber wasn't quite sure she wanted to share her pages here because hers tend to weigh more heavily in the direction of messy, working sketchbooks. We had a great conversation over email about the comparison game that goes on thanks to the proliferation of beautiful images on social media. It's hard, not only for fledgling artists, but for professional, working artists as well. We all need to remember this.

I am grateful to Amber for  being here today, for sharing her story and her own unique perspective on the practice of keeping sketchbooks and of art-making.

I'll shut up now and let Amber take over!

I'm Amber Leilani and I’ve been an artist all my life, but I stopped sketching and painting just after college. I made jewelry for about 20 years but I neglected the sketching and painting side of myself. When I discovered art dolls it opened up a whole new world for me… and over the last few years I sketch and paint more, too. Honestly, I wish I had more time to just work on things for me…paint more with my watercolors and paint more in acrylics and even learn oil painting. I am still trying to unlock a lot of the creativity I shut away for so long.

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art journaling

I keep a sketchbook for many reasons and I keep many sketchbooks. All going at once!! I mainly keep a working sketchbook and a travel sketchbook to jot ideas in or lay out basic ideas for new dolls or paintings. 

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art dolls, creative process

Actually, I have so many sketchbooks going right now, I keep forgetting about half of them. But I also keep a sketchbook to keep me inspired. To have something to flip through for ideas when the well is running low. 

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art dolls, creative process

I love seeing all the wonderfully perfect art journal pages you see so much of on Pinterest or Instagram, but my sketchbooks are mostly a jumble of crude drawings with lots of arrows and lines and vague descriptions. I jot links and tools and quotes down. I make notes on symbols I like and places I want to visit. I paste photos that inspire me or artists whose work I admire. For me, a sketchbook is about my life… and that life is often unorganized and messy. 

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art dolls, creative process

I couldn’t be perfect and beautiful or keep a perfect and beautiful sketchbook if I tried. One of my sketchbooks even has a list of medications to give my cat when she was having surgery. It used to bother me that my books didn’t “look like everyone else’s”, but I’m not LIKE everyone else. My sketchbook is me. Me is far from perfect and I’m ok with that….

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art dolls, creative process

I have been keeping a sketchbook since grade school…in some form or fashion. I used to sketch on notebook paper and would put the pages in a little folder. So, I guess that’s going on 40 years! I loved my college sketchbooks. I was so free during that time in my life. It never occurred to me that my sketchbook should look a certain way. I just put what I was feeling into them. I had a lull after Hurricane Katrina where I didn’t keep one for about 5 years. I think I picked the habit back up around 2010 which was the year I discovered Art Dolls.

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art dolls, creative process

Since my husband and I moved to Miami for his career in 2014 I have been struggling with my inspiration. When we lived in New Orleans (for 20 years) my inspiration came from just walking down the street and seeing the beautiful architecture and the peeling paint; smelling the old wood and the sweet olives in bloom; talking to friends in cafes and bars…. Every single thing about New Orleans was inspirational. But, here in Miami it’s a totally different vibe. Miami is a very soulless city. There is no sense of community and it’s a very cold and unfriendly place. I will be honest and tell you I’ve been struggling…. Here I have had to turn inward for my inspiration – to books and movies and music; to nature. 

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, watercolor

I love my studio (which I didn’t have back home- I worked at the dining room table) and I spend hours just sitting in there, listening to music and working while hanging out with my cat, Patches. Inspiration just doesn’t come as easily as it did back home, but I AM working more – focusing on my art and that keeps me motivated. This is the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do, be a full time artist. I’m actually doing it…although not as profitably as I’d like…but I’m doing it!!! So I just keep working.

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, art dolls, creative process

I am primarily a doll artist, so I work in paper clay whenever I am sculpting. I use a mix of Creative Paper Clay and Premier Stone Clay. When painting my dolls I use acrylic, pastels, graphite, ink, colored pencil, and charcoal. I absolutely ADORE mixed media. Texture is very important to me. I also use a lot of real dried moss and feathers and paper millinery flowers for my sculptures. I’m hoping to continue to bring more mixed media techniques and embellishments in to my work this year.

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, watercolor

I also enjoy sketching quite a bit, however and when I am working in my sketchbook I use graphite, water color, gouache, pastel, acrylic, and colored pencil. As much as I enjoy sculpting and would not trade it for anything… my heart seems to lighten when I can pick up a pencil or delve into my water color pallet. I often use it as a way to relax or refocus if I am feeling burned out while working on my dolls.

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, watercolor

If you want to try something -- TRY IT!!! Follow your heart. If it makes you happy, it was meant to be. And you will not be perfect overnight. Keep practicing. If you saw some of my earliest dolls…gah!! But I kept at it and now I am mostly happy with my work. But there is still so much more to learn. Always push yourself to try something new. Get to know your community…the art doll community, for me, has been a savior. They really opened their arms to me, when I was just starting out…even though I had no idea what I was doing. And since I’m awful about feeling like I’m bothering someone if I ask them a question, I struggled a lot with trying to figure things out on my own. I’m just now learning to ask for help if I need it. Don’t be afraid to ask…but also don’t expect to be given a road map for free. I’m always happy to help out if someone asks me a question about what kind of clay I use or how I build my armatures, but I’m not going to give away ALL my secrets. For me, a lot of the fun is figuring things out for myself. So I say just get out there and do it!!! You have absolutely nothing to lose and I think you will find an amazing community and tribe.

Amber Leilani, Sketchbook, sketchbook conversations, watercolor, hand lettering, quotes, Neil Gaiman quote

Thank you, Amber, for sharing your sketchbooks and your story with us here today.

Dear reader, I hope you are feeling inspired! Please take the time to look at Amber's magical art dolls. You can see them:

Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews

*Photos in this post ©Amber Leilani. Used with permission.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

summer days, obsession and a new website!

Tonight is the solstice. Summer will be here for real. As I write this it's 56 degrees and raining, thunder rumbling in the distance. Doesn't exactly feel like summer.

Even so, I can't believe how quickly June is flying by. Didn't I just turn the calendar?

summer, garden, lilies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In the garden there's a strange combination of some things galloping (seemingly) ahead of schedule and other things growing so slowly.

summer, sunflowers, garden, flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The self-seeded sunflowers have started to bloom, but the sunflowers I planted aren't even a foot tall yet. My sweet peas haven't started blooming, but the arugula is already flowering. I did spy the first snap peas.

garden, snap peas, peas, vegetable gardening, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And the beans are starting to twine.

garden, gardening, vegetable gardening, beans, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm trying not to miss any of it.

roses, rose hips, spent flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It all goes so fast.

summer, summer meadow, greyhounds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to focus on revamping my website this month. I figured I would do it slowly. Spending some time painting and some time on the computer. Little did I know that it would become an obsession. Once I got started, I couldn't stop. A bit like Pepper when he notices my art*.

black and white cat, adopt don't shop, rescue cat, art, art studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've been focused. Overly focused. Even when I wasn't working on my website I was thinking about it, trying to work out problems in my head. I use Squarespace for my website. In general it's easy to use for non-tech people, once you get the hang of it. But there is a learning curve. Especially when you're trying new features or switching templates. For this re-design I decided to switch templates, give things a totally new look. I'm fairly tech savvy, but even so, it took me a while to figure out what the heck was going on with all the features. Squarespaces tutorials and guides are invaluable.

My new site went live yesterday. I'm still tinkering, but I'm happy enough with it that I think I can (mostly) leave it alone. For now.

website, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

I hope you'll take a look and let me know what you think. Is it easy to navigate? Do the sections make sense? Let me know if you notice anything that doesn't work or that is confusing.

Now that my website is "finished" I need to finish tweaking my blog design, but I'm not quite feeling up to it yet. Do you have any strong feelings about blog designs? Are there features you wish mine had to make it easier to read or to navigate? I'd love to know what you think.

I've been so focused on my website this last week that I have barely done any art at all.

I did manage to do some practice petunia sketches. I want to paint a larger piece, but as I was preparing I realized that I was a bit nervous about it. I've never painted petunias before and their shape is deceptively simple. It's been a while since I've been flummoxed by a painting subject and so I had to remind myself that the answer is simply to sketch. I sketched with pencil and then I sketched with watercolor.

watercolor, painting, process, sketching, botanical watercolor, botanical illustration, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I really should have taken more photos while I was working on this. I often say that it's important to keep going when I'm working on watercolor paintings, that in the middle they often look terrible. That was certainly the case for this one. It's tempting to abandon a project when it's at that stage, but it's important not to.

I guess that's the case with a lot of things. Don't give up on them when you're part-way through. If you're in the middle of a project (or even in the beginning stages), I hope you'll keep that in mind!

Wishing you a happy solstice!

*in fact he's looking at his reflection. He is a bit obsessed with staring at his reflection. He sees it in the oven door, the refrigerator, computer screens, and yes, mirrors, too.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Mia Whittemore -- A Sketchbook Conversation

Today I'm delighted to be chatting with Mia Whittemore. If you're an Uppercase Magazine reader you might recognize her work. Mia was the winner of last year's Uppercase + Windham Fabrics New Designer Competition. Although I'm always tempted to rattle on a bit about my Sketchbook Conversations guests (they're all so inspiring and generous!), I'll let Mia take it from here:

My name is Mia Whittemore and I am a surface designer and art teacher based in Massachusetts.

I have consistently worked in my sketchbook for about a year. I started keeping a sketchbook during my first year as an elementary art teacher because I needed a way to make art during the week that would fit with my schedule. So, I found making watercolor sketches in my sketchbook to be a low pressure way to keep up my art-making practice during busy times.

Most of my earlier sketches were made using square format Bee Paper Aquabee Super Deluxe Sketchbooks. I love this square size because it is conducive to the pattern making process, which can be done in a square format. I keep all of my sketchbooks and I especially enjoy looking back at these square sketchbooks because they are where I began to find my voice as a pattern designer.

Nowadays, I mostly use the hardbound Strathmore 500 Series Mixed Media Art Journal for my sketching. Sometimes, my sketches in these Strathmore journals end up as final artworks because the paper quality is so nice!

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Mia Whittemore, Painting

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Mia Whittemore, Painting

In my sketchbooks, I mainly use watercolor and gouache. I create my own watercolor palette, so I buy tubes of watercolor paint then fill the wells with paint and let it dry overnight. Holbein is by far my favorite brand for watercolor and gouache because the colors are so rich and vivid. And as far as brushes, I mostly use just a couple of brushes for my sketches - #4 and #6 round brushes are my favorites.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Mia Whittemore, Painting

I sell my work at art markets throughout the year and I always take along a sketchbook. Many conversations have been sparked by people asking about my sketchbook and I also get lots of ideas out of my head and onto paper during these markets! I always keep some kind of sketchbook on me because you never know when inspiration will strike or when you will have a spare five minutes to fill.

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Mia Whittemore, Painting

If you are just beginning to work in a sketchbook, try not to be too precious about the process - it can be difficult to remember that! It is especially tough when you have a brand new blank sketchbook that you don't want to "mess up." That is why I always start on the second page of my sketchbook!

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Mia Whittemore, Painting

What keeps me motivated to continue working in my sketchbook is the unknown because you just never know what you will create when you let yourself sketch with no pressure!

sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations, Mia Whittemore, Painting

Thank you Mia for sharing your sketchbooks with us here today!

Dear reader, you can see more of Mia's work at and follow along  with her on Instagram @miawhittemore

Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews.

*Photos in this post ©Mia Whittemore. Used with permission.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

summer garden inspiration (and thoughts about creative ebbs and flows)

Ah, summer. Yes it has been hot. Yes it has been humid. Yes it has been buggy. But, flowers. Flowers are everywhere. And that means that inspiration is everywhere, too.

garden, roses, gardening, Above and Beyond, climbing roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Lately I've been thinking a lot about inspiration and creativity and the ebbs and flows of creative energy. My slump earlier this year was difficult for me. I know part of it was the weather and the season, but I don't always have such a hard time with winter. Creative ebbs and flows are natural for all artists and yet I'd like to be able to avoid slumping quite so far and so long.

Is there a solution? I don't know. But I keep coming back to this quote:

"Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working."
                              --Pablo Picasso

The more I worked on paintings this spring, the more inspired I felt.

It certainly helps that there's now always something happening in the garden. This rose is the same plant I shared last week, its flowers lightened with age. Glorious.

garden, roses, gardening, Above and Beyond, climbing roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Everywhere I look I see something I want to paint. Fleeting flowers I want to capture before they're gone.

Being able to eat from the garden each day is such a blessing, too.

spring, garden, herbs, kale, lettuce, peas, radishes, vegetables, harvest, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The garden is filled with so much wonder. There's something new to discover each day.

One plant that surprised me this spring was the sage I planted last year. It survived the winter, a bit woody and strangely shaped, but alive.

sage, salvia, garden sage, culinary sage, gardening, herbs, herb garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And now its filled with flowers. As are the chives 

gardens, herb garden, gardening, raised beds, dog fence, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

and last year's lupines.

lupines, lupine flowers, garden, garden flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I had to put aside all that inspiration while I worked on a lavender commission last week.

lavender, watercolor painting, watercolor illustration, botanical illustration, botanical watercolor, custom paintings, commissions, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The only lavender I have in my garden are tiny plants I put in this year. Ah well, that's the way it goes sometimes. I worked from dried flowers and my previous lavender painting (it's still available in my Etsy shop; my customer wanted a larger version).

The next painting I wanted to work on was inspired by iris flowers my mom brought over from her garden. Sadly the flower I based the painting on was shriveled before I even had a chance to do some sketching in my sketchbook. Iris are some of the most fleeting of flowers (and they don't like me. I never had much luck with them in Cleveland and the plant that was here in this garden when we moved in has looked worse and worse each year). 

watercolor, botanical watercolor, botanical illustration, watercolor illustration, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Note to self: take better photos of the fleeting flowers you want to paint before they've shriveled to nothing.

I much prefer working from live flowers, but sometimes that's just not possible. Oh, and as I was putting the finishing touches on this painting, I set my hand down on wet paint, leaving a big, dark smear.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, botanical illustration, watercolor illustration, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My attempts to blot and wash out the stain (as I shared in this post) did not work and so I painted an extra flower bud to cover up the green blur left by the smear. Sometimes a cover up is the best option.

Now that I have other projects out of the way, I've been able to work from garden inspiration. I like to walk around the garden snipping little bits to bring up to my studio. A stem of sage came along. 

To finally paint from something from the garden was heavenly.

watercolor painting, botanical watercolor, botanical illustration, sage illustration, herbs, herbal watercolor, sage flowers, culinary sage, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

This painting came about so much more easily than the last painting I did with the same paper. Why? I don't know. Because I was on a roll? Maybe there isn't an answer, but I don't intend to stop.

Both the iris painting and the little sage painting are now available for purchase in my shops.

Along with my plans to revamp my website, I'm rethinking my shops, too. I want to clear out some of my older paintings to make room for new. Look for these little ones from last year to appear in my Etsy shop in the next week or so:

watercolor paintings, botanical watercolors, moss roses, chives, garden flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And if there's something you've been keeping an eye on, you might want to snag it now before I raise my prices.

One last thought (because you know how much I love fortune cookie fortunes)...

fortune cookies, painting studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

"Learn to enjoy every minute of your life" is good advice. Whether you're a painter or a teacher or an accountant or a chef. Our minutes are finite. Let's not waste them.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Abigail Halpin -- a Sketchbook Conversation

Today I'm chatting with Abigail Halpin. I have long admired her work and am so happy to have her here sharing her sketchbook story with us today!

I'm an illustrator, living and drawing in Southern Maine. When not filling up sketchbooks and illustrating children's books, I like to sew, read mystery novels and go camping in the great outdoors.

Abigail Halpin, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

On a personal level (and for me, the most important reason) I keep a sketchbook as a visual diary of sorts. Drawing helps me process the world and I use my pencil to explore life and form dreams. Professionally, sketchbooks are a phenomenal way for me to try out new ideas and explore subjects I'll often incorporate into more finished pieces.

Abigail Halpin, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

I've kept a sketchbook off and on since elementary school, starting in the second grade. Following college, though, it became a daily part of my art practice.

Abigail Halpin, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

The pencil is usually my go to tool. I like to incorporate watercolor into my sketchbook illustrations also, and occasionally colored pencil and markers. And sometimes if I'm on the go, I'll reach for a ballpoint pen. For sketchbooks, I bounce between a couple different books, each serving a different purpose. I have a small Moleskine I keep in my bag (I love the size) and a Hand Book artist journal that I use for watercolor (the paper quality is terrific). For day to day use, I typically draw in a Canson spiral bound sketchbook. It's economical and great for looser work and generating ideas.

Abigail Halpin, Sketchbooks, Sketchbook Conversations

If you're just starting out my advice is to draw everyday, everywhere, anytime. Also (and this is something I have to remind myself constantly) sketchbooks are for experimentation. It's okay to have a spread full of wonky figures and disastrous perspectives. My sketchbooks are frequently full of "mistakes," but there's so much I learn in these less than perfect attempts. I don't share these pieces as much online, for professional reasons. But I can assure you, they are there and are as much a part of sketchbook keeping as the pieces that come out well.

Thank you, Abigail for sharing your sketchbooks and your story with us today.

Dear reader, you can connect with Abigail:
her blog:

Missed the other Sketchbook Conversations posts? It's easy to catch up at the series web page.

And for even more inspiration, check out my Artist Interviews

*Photos in this post ©Abigail Halpin. Used with permission.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

blogging, teaching, art-making and the joy of early summer

Hello, June, you're one of my favorite months of the year and I'm so glad you're here.

studio, artist studio, watercolor art print calendar, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It makes the recent heartbreaks in the news a little more bearable, this month of bare feet and flowers and birdsong.

I've come up with a plan for my blog. I'll try it for a while and see how things go. Nothing is ever set in stone, which is part of the beauty of this sort of creative endeavor.

Thank you to everyone who took my survey. I truly appreciate your feedback. Although 70% of you said that 3 posts a week is a manageable amount to read, I'm trimming my weekly posts down to 2. (One of you said that you won't read more than one post from anyone. Thanks for being honest. It's your choice what you read, how you read it and how often you read it. I completely understand; I have been so busy lately that I'm way behind in my own blog reading).

I plan to publish my own posts, about my art, my garden, what's happening in my studio, posts of creative encouragement and anything else that I feel the need to share on Tuesdays and my interviews on Fridays. The first Friday of the month will be an in-depth Artist Interview and the other Fridays will be Sketchbook Conversations posts. Your survey responses proved that far and away art, Sketchbook Conversations, creative encouragement and artist interviews are your favorite types of posts.

As always, if you have questions, comments or anything you want to share, you can let me know in the comments of any of my posts or contact me with your thoughts or feedback. I love hearing from you!

Although it's technically still spring, now that June is here it feels as if summer has arrived. Over the weekend I saw a temperature of 89 on a sign in town. After all the rain we had in May, now I have to keep an eye on all my seedlings and new plants and have the hose handy to water.

garden, container gardening, cinder block raised beds, petunias, violas, vegetable garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It seems as if everything has suddenly come alive (even more than it already had).

garden, roses, Above and Beyond, climbing roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

 Roses are popping open.

garden, roses, Above and Beyond, climbing roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I still sometimes miss the roses in my old garden (especially if I look at old pictures like the ones in this post and this one), but I've slowly added a few to this garden.

garden, roses, Therese Bugnet, rugosa roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It feels so good to be surrounded by growing things, eating from the garden again and bringing in cut flowers. 

Here's a view of some of the main part of the garden. The backyard is very shady, so I've tried to squeeze as much as I can into the sunniest half.

garden, June, Container Gardening, raised beds, cinder block raised beds, hog panel garden arches, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It's hard to share an "in progress" picture like this because I immediately see all the flaws and all the unfinished projects. But there's so much growing and blooming and it brings me so much joy and nourishment and inspiration.

micron pen, sketchbook drawing, peonies, botanical sketchbook, botanical drawing, black and white drawing, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It's funny, though. Everything happening in my garden is making me want to paint and paint and paint, but although I've sketched from my garden, my recent paintings have not come from my garden.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, freesias, commissioned paintings, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I didn't have any of the flowers blooming in my garden that I needed to paint for a recent commission.

watercolor, botanical watercolor, roses, commissioned paintings, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In my latest Skillshare class* I share how to paint butterflies, not flowers.

This month's MATS Bootcamp theme isn't flowery. And although I have another flowery commission I'm working on this week, those flowers aren't blooming in my garden right now, either.

Ah well. That's the way it goes sometimes. I'll fit in some other flower painting, too (with a little help from my studio assistants).

rescue cats, black and white cats, adopt don't shop, watercolor, studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Lightening my blogging schedule will give me more time for painting. At least, that's the plan.

My other plan for June is to revamp my website. I intend to streamline it, make it more focused and easier to navigate.

rescue cats, black and white cats, adopt don't shop, watercolor, studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm not sure how helpful my studio assistants will be with that job, but they're always willing to give it a go.

I hope you have a joy-filled and creative week. I'll be back on Friday sharing a Sketchbook Conversation with one of my favorite artists. See you then!

*this class is now available on the Skillshare site. Skillshare's having a new promotion. Sign up now and receive two free months. You'll have access to all (9!) of my classes as well as thousands of others on many different topics. After that, if Skillshare isn't for you, you can cancel your membership at any time.