Flowers Flowers Flowers!

From our gardens throughout our backyard to the greenhouse to the farmers market to the botanical gardens to the florist section at the grocery store, there are flowers everywhere these days!


botanical garden flower collageIMG_0594 IMG_0591IMG_0579


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I have a feeling the abundance of flowers is just going to grow even more in July!


Birthday in the Rainforest

We celebrated my birthday over the weekend with a trip to the rainforest!

waterfall in the rainforest

coconut tree in the rainforest

ferns in the rainforest

 in the rainforest

I love all the funky sizes, shapes and textures of the big leaves in the rainforest.

big leaves in the rainforest big leaves in the rainforest big leaves in the rainforest

I always love seeing the coffee trees, which were full of green and red cherries. I think it would be great fun to add  a coffee tree to our house plant collection, even if it didn’t produce coffee cherries and tree
It was the featured exhibit at our local botanical gardens, which was a great place to be on a cold, rainy day. in the rainforest

After this adventure, we enjoyed a celebratory dinner at a local Irish pub, one of my favorite things to do. We lucked out with a live Irish band!


Notes From the Weekend: Fall At the Botanical Gardens

I went to the local botanical gardens on Friday afternoon to soak up some fresh air and see what’s new for fall.

mountain ash at botanical gardens

leaves at botanical gardens IMG_4685The sugar maple tree is always the one of the first to turn colors around here, and it offers quite a show with its vibrant yellows and oranges.
fall color at botanical gardens pops of fall color at botanical gardens

sugar maple leaves at botanical gardens

tipped leaves at botanical gardens

red grasses at botanical gardens

There’s such a wonderful variety of colors and textures in the planters throughout the botanical gardens.

fall planter at botanical gardens

fall container at botanical gardens

fall planter at botanical gardens

fall planter at botanical gardens

fall urn at botanical gardens pops of color at botanical gardens

I love this hanging basket that lives in a shady spot throughout the growing seasons. Definitely want to try this in spring on our front porch, which faces north and doesn’t get any direct sunlight.

hanging moss planter at botanical gardensI was happy to spot my first wooly bear caterpillar of the season!wooly bear caterpillar at botanical gardensI was also surprised to see a few butterflies still hanging around, like this red admiral. I saw a couple monarch butterflies and a variegated frittilary butterfly too.
red admiral butterfly at botanical gardensIt was such a treat to visit the botanical gardens in fall. My next visit probably won’t be until December to check out what their gardeners have done to the grounds for the holiday season.



Field Trip to Botanical Gardens

Speaking of being on the trails, another one of my favorite things to do is make a field trip to the botanical gardens. There are so many wonderful nooks and crannies to investigate.

Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens Olbrich GardensOlbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens swamp at Olbrich Gardens alpine garden at Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens

Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens

There are always so many unique and unusual plants and flowers to see.

frog at Olbrich Gardenswater lily at Olbrich Gardens rose at Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens tiger lily at Olbrich Gardens monarch at Olbrich Gardens globe thistle at Olbrich Gardens huge leaves at Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens Olbrich Gardens coreopsis at Olbrich Gardens glowing at Olbrich Gardens

I’ve decided to make this a regular field trip by going every few weeks to see what’s new as the seasons change.


Field Trip: Botanical Gardens in Winter

It’s been 4-5 months since I’ve seen green leaves, so our field trip to the botanical gardens last weekend was just the ticket to get a boost of nature, a taste for spring and a rejuvenated perspective.

Olbrich palms

I haven’t been drawing or painting much lately, or spending any time in my sketchbook, which kinda makes me sad. One of my favorite things to draw is leaves, so it was especially wonderful to see all sorts of different hues of green, different sizes and shapes of leaves, and lots of tropical plants in the middle of winter.

Olbrich green leaves

I was off to such a good start with my sketchbook this time last year. I was experimenting at least once a week, and bursting with ideas. I guess inspiration strikes when it strikes.

Olbrich furry leaves

Last semester, I spent so much of my free time working on design projects and illustrations for class that I didn’t make much time for personal exploration. And now I’m having a hard time getting back to that zone.

Olbrich ruffly leaf

It’s a difficult time of year to find inspiration in nature because the first place I would normally go, our backyard, is covered in snow. Most of our vegetation is dormant, and it’s cold and windy outside. It’s that time of year when cabin fever starts to set in and spring fever starts to creep up. I’ve been searching so hard lately to spot my first robin. I did spot a flock of young cardinals this morning, which was a great sign.

Olbrich wrinkly leaf

Because I spend a good part of my week in class, another part immersed in design projects, and another part researching, brainstorming and concepting ideas for projects, I’m finding that I don’t have a lot of creative energy left.

Olbrich chenelle tree

I really miss my sketchbook and my sewing machine. I think they are both creative outlets that help feed my primary creative focus these days – design school.

Olbrich white flowers

This might sound crazy, but I’m hoping to make a little less time for homework in order to make a little more time for my other creative outlets, illustrating and sewing. There’s plenty of inspiration right here in these pictures to get me started.

Olbrich coffee plant

I think most people might call it balance. Hope you’re having a good week so far.


My Muse: Botanical Gardens

I’ve been taking several online art classes this year from Alisa Burke, an artist famous for her sketchbooks and her art, from realistic to abstract, graffiti to patterns. One of her strongest messages is to find your own muse, places that excite you and give you inspiration to create your own art.

One of my favorite places to go for inspiration is our local botanical gardens.

It’s chock full of gorgeous paths, landscaping and planned gardens based on themes, such as wildflowers, roses, herbs, and spring bulbs.

They have such a wonderful variety of spring bulbs in bloom right now.

I saw many spring flowers I’m familiar with but not in these mini versions.

I’ve also never seen a tree with such curls like this Curly Willow.

In addition to all the beautiful flowers, the landscaping is fabulous too. This alpine path reminds me of vegetation I saw when I lived in mountain terrain, lots of evergreens, conifers, sedums and succulents.

There are lots of places to just sit and reflect on life.

I’m working on a project for Color Theory class where we have to put together  slide show of photos we’ve taken showing complementary colors, which means colors on the opposite sides of the color wheel.

I already have a big supply of photos to choose from, but I wanted to take new photos to add to the mix.

It was an exhilarating and relaxing afternoon, to feel the warm sunshine, smell the blossoms, and just be outside amongst all this natural beauty.

I definitely have to make more field trips like this. Where do you go to relax and find inspiration?

Thanks for stopping by!

Botanical Gardens in Winter

I mentioned recently that Dave and I went to the botanical gardens last weekend for a shot of green!

As soon as we walked into the conservatory, we noticed the warm temperatures (between 65 to 80 degrees F (18 to 26 degrees C) and humidity (60% according to their website). It felt heavenly to us!

We both love palm trees so it was fun looking at all the cool varieties and giant palm leaves.

You always have to remember to look up in a place like the jungle because you will see the weirdest, most unexpected shapes and textures..

I am looking forward to spending an afternoon here with a sketchbook and pencil!

There is also a cool little river and waterfall running through the conservatory, with a variety of ferns and pitcher plants lining the waterfront and koi fish decorating the water.

There were free-flying birds (quail and canaries) living in the conservatory but they were hard to catch on camera.

The conservatory had a special exhibit about coffee, with lots of signs throughout the jungle showing where coffee originated, where it’s grown and how it became a common drink in the US.

I’ve always thought it would be cool to have a pergola covering our patio with viney plants providing additional shade. This is a perfect example!

This was just the pick-me-up we both needed! With all the warmer temperatures we’re having this week, garden season doesn’t seem so far away now.

Art Journal 2011 – Week 6

I am happy to report that I had a better week than last week!

As you know, I have been thinking a lot about coffee lately. I’m working on a logo design for my Illustrator class that has to do with coffee. And I have a fun coffee clutch of fellow students and teachers I get together with everyday in between classes. We talk a lot about coffee and food and other silly things. I look forward to hanging out with them every afternoon, so I thought it would be fun to capture those moments.

I painted the background with my favorite watercolor crayons, doodled coffee words all over the background, cut out the cafe logo from the coffee cup sleeve, and added some white glitter paint over the cup for the creme (which looks green in that photo!).

On Saturday, Dave and I went to the botanical gardens for a shot of green plant life.

The conservatory is a glass pyramid filled with tropical paradise plants, flowers, a rushing waterfall, orchids and free-flying birds. The temperature was 65 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit (between 18 and 26 degrees Celsius) with 60 percent humidity. It was just the shot we both needed! (I plan to share more photos this week.) The conservatory had a special exhibit about coffee, so it seems fitting that I make a card to reflect the day.

Again, I used my watercolor crayons to create a lush green background. I brushed a slightly wet brush in an upward stroke to create a stem or stalk direction. Then I drew the giant palm leaf with a marker, which I ended up going over with acrylic paint for a more dimensional effect, since some markers don’t adhere too well on these crayon-covered backgrounds. I framed the words to symbolize what we are longing for when we look through our windows – green plants!

Don’t forget to stop our Flickr group to see what Michelle and Sandra have been doing on their art cards.