Chasing a Monarch

One of my favorite things in life is a monarch butterfly.

They are magical to me, as are all butterflies really. And their survival is in jeopardy which makes them feel even more precious to me.

They can be hard to capture with my camera because they are always on the move, like most butterflies. So it was a joy to chase one in my garden this week and to photograph it while it explored the new coneflowers I added to my garden last summer. Note to self: plant more coneflowers!

A patch of milkweed appeared near my mailbox a couple years ago and it keeps getting bigger and bigger each year. It’s not the ideal spot but I’m afraid if I move it when it first comes up in spring, it might not be a successful move and then I won’t have any milkweed. So I’m just going to appreciate it no matter where it decides to flourish.

It’s always a treasure hunt to find a monarch caterpillar on the milkweed. And how amazing to realize that yellow, black and white striped caterpillar turns into a beautiful orange, black and white monarch!

It’s magic and magical! And it brings me great joy!

Summer Weekend Adventures

Weekends are never long enough, especially in summer.

Spending a long holiday weekend at my parents’ house on Lake Michigan is always full of adventures, from kayaking to hiking. This time we also hiked The Ridges and the Mink River Trail.

Exploring the variety of flora is a fun treasure hunt throughout the seasons.

Noticing the wildlife is an exciting outdoor activity too, finding birds, wildlife and insects.

Some critters are hard to capture with the camera, like this pileated woodpecker, and other critters are fun to watch their shenanigans, like these cute little red squirrels chomping on cones right outside our kitchen door.

And of course, there are many varieties of butterflies and dragonflies to follow. I’ve never seen this particular 12-Spotted skimmer dragonfly before. I had fun following a tiger swallowtail and a few monarchs too.

I always cherish these weekend getaways and wish I could stay longer. I’m already looking forward to the next one! Cheers to more summer weekend adventures!

Celebration

I recently turned in my final artwork for my first illustrated picture book, which called for a celebratory glass of champagne!

I can’t wait to share more of the picture book when it’s published. I am also excited to share some of the background and my sketching process.

We are already starting on the next book so the fun and hard work continues.

Summer Hiking

I don’t go hiking on the trails too often in summer because it can get pretty buggy (mosquitoes love me!) and muggy with our warm, humid summery days. Our weather has been all over the place lately, from temperatures in the 60s and breezy to 90s with a heat index. We’ve had a few nice weekends of low humidity and temps in the 70s to low 80s, so I’ve been able to spend time on the hiking trails the past couple weekends.

I love noticing all the sweet little flowers (er, maybe weeds) along the trail. They look dainty and fragile but they are usually vibrant and hardy.

I’ve also been noticing the bluest skies lately which means low humidity or haze in the atmosphere.

I’m still working from home for a little while longer, which is great but feels like too much time in front of computer screens, so I’ve been trying to soak up more fresh air, wide open spaces and time on the trails or in the woods.

Hope you are taking the time to pause or slow down, get out there and enjoy lovely summer days!

Lake life

One of my favorite things in life is water, so I love spending time at my parents’ lake house.

Their house sits in between the water and wooded bluffs so it’s quiet and peaceful, perfect to take a nap in the hammock or just watch the wind blow over the water.

Or go for a hike to explore the flora and fauna in the woods.

Last weekend we had the bluest sky I’ve ever seen!

Fun to end each evening with a beach bonfire at sunset!

Cheers to summer!

Nature is New

I illustrated this sketchbook page “Nature is new every morning” a few years ago and it still remains one of my favorite illustrations. It’s so fitting for spring when everything in nature is new and exploding with life, from the grass getting greener to the bulbs peaking up through the ground to the birds returning to the backyard, busy catching up with each other and foraging for nest materials and the best seeds and bugs.

So much inspiration as the seasons change, and never enough time to keep up with all my illustration ideas!

May

The month of May where I live is one of my favorite times of year. Spring is in full swing, my yard is coming back to life with a vengeance, lots of birds are busy at the bird feeders and bird bath and I can open the windows when the weather teases of summer.

The birds have been loving the new birdbath.

I’ve never seen so many goldfinches in my backyard which has been a wonderful treat.

Sometimes the birds are on the move and I have to take a quick photo through a dirty window, like this bluejay right outside the kitchen.

Other times I get lucky and notice a cardinal hanging out in the tree above me while I’m standing in the backyard on a break from working from home.

So many wonderful reasons to be out in nature, watching the wildlife in my backyard and soaking up the wonder and magic of Spring!

Earth Day Art

I recently painted these thumbnail illustrations with Earth Day in mind. This is the 51st anniversary!

The themes for my inspiration were protect (forests and oceans), energy (water and solar), biodiversity (butterflies), reduce and reuse (green), voice (water, which is one of my favorite things in life) and the Planet Earth. I think these designs would make fun stickers!

Last year I illustrated this page in my sketchbook, which could be a fun t-shirt design.

A few years ago I designed an infographic poster to show the migration of monarch butterflies in an effort to educate and create awareness about the fragility of butterflies.

I would love to create more Earth Day-themed art for my portfolio. And I’m always looking for more ways to be sustainable and environmentally friendly. How do you recognize and celebrate Earth Day?

Spring Flowers and Snow Flurries

We’ve had snow flurries in between sunshine yesterday and today!

I’m happy to discover the new daffodils I planted last fall are blooming throughout my backyard. I wish I had planted more so I’m writing a note to myself for next fall.

The temps were below freezing last night so I had to bring in the new pansies I planted over the weekend. They are such cheerful flowers so I hate to lose them this early in the planting season.

I love these signs of spring so the cold temps and snow flurries are a little disheartening. I live in the northern hemisphere so I’m ready for spring and summer! How about you?