Category Archives: Books

My Top 5 Favorite Art Books

Hi there lovely people!

How’s the week treating you so far? Yesterday was blissfully rainy and I was knee deep in editing project videos for Flight & Feather! I’m so excited that class opens on Monday! I can’t wait to share all these projects with the students! I couldn’t resist and threw in 3 bonus lessons too! Why not? I was having a blast creating so it’s a win win. ;)

Here’s a pic of one of the bonus lessons I will be teaching! Loved making this one!


Anyway, today I wanted to share with you my top five favorite Art & Creativity books right now!! Highly recommended and full of inspiration, wisdom and ideas! If you are feeling a bit out of creative juice grab a new art book! Perks me up in no time…along with a strong coffee!

Okay so here’s the line up in no particular order! They are all fabulous!

 #1 Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop by Serena BartonScreen Shot 2015-10-19 at 9.47.32 PM#2 Birds In Art by Caroline Bugler

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#3 Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

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#4 The Art of Expressive Collage by Crystal Neubauer

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#5 Encaustic Mixed Media by Patricia Baldwin Seggebrush

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Hope you guys check these out! You can never have too many books as far as I’m concerned! Happy ART reading!



Filed under Art, Books, collage, creativity, encaustic

Eating Lean & Green Cookbook

Hi there lovely people,

Okay, so I’m continuing my theme this week of celebrating the women around me and all the amazing things they are accomplishing!

Today, I wanted you to meet my dear friend, Katie Marreel! You know the friend that is just good at whatever she does…yeah that’s Katie! Creative, brilliant, kind, caring – you know that good to the core kinda person – well, Katie pretty much rocks and I feel super lucky to have had her in my life as a close friend and one of my best brain storming buddies!! Nothing better than another entrepreneurial girl to keep you going! So check this out…

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She has just launched her first cookbook and I couldn’t be more proud! Woo!!!

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I have witnessed her toil lovingly over this project for a looong time but the finished product is beyond gorgeous!! Go to her website to check out this beautifully written and photographed (by Katie herself) cookbook. Chock full of delicious, healthy recipes!

So you can get to know her a little better, I decided a little impromptu interview was in order! Just like her book, she’s bursting with great information and healthy tips for busy families and health minded individuals alike!

Okay here goes….So Katie…..


What is your personal relationship like with food and fitness? (hint hint…tell us about your story. ;)

My story begins nearly 60 lbs. and 15 years ago with a quest to transform my body into something healthier. The first several years brought many new diets and exercise programs, some of which failed, and others that made their own small contribution to weight loss. Nothing, however, came close to achieving the ultimate goal.  Then I discovered the Medifast 5 & 1 Meal Plan© through Take Shape for Life©. With guidance from my physician, I followed the program and experienced radical results. I lost weight beyond my expectations and built an entirely new relationship with food. Six years later, I’m still maintaining a goal weight. Eating Lean & Green has become a way of life.

My relationship with food and fitness is always changing and growing. There are so many ideas from experts in the field, I find that I am always studying and learning as much as I can. 

When it comes to food, I have learned to think about it as fuel to power my body, and I find deep satisfaction in eating things that are nutritious.  Old emotional eating habits, using food as a reward and a comfort, continue to fade away as new healthier habits take over.  There is no reward sweeter than the satisfaction of having made the right choices!

Fitness is something I have always been passionate about, and I am dedicated to keeping it a regular part of life. I like to change it up and try new things. From yoga and strength training to running and tennis, I’m always keeping my body moving.  Although it can be exhausting in the moment, I know that it does so many healing and restorative things for our bodies. It’s worth every drop of sweat.

What was your inspiration in creating this cookbook?

As a person who has struggled with weight for most of my life, my inspiration comes from a deeply-rooted desire to help others on the same journey.  I am passionate about sharing healthy and nutritious meals that are also incredibly satisfying and delicious.  Losing weight doesn’t have to taste bad!



What are your top three tips for incorporating healthy eating into your everyday family life?

#1:  Plan, plan, plan. It may not be the most fun task, but getting familiar with the nutritional value of your food and making a daily plan is the best thing you can to reach your goals.  I write down all the foods I plan to eat each day before I go to bed. If I’m going out to a restaurant, I will check out the menu online ahead of time and know ahead of time what I am going to order.

#2:  Don’t force it. Learning to be selective with your own foods while offering a few options for others will go a long way to getting them excited about being healthful. Forcing food choices on others will only drive them away from healthy eating.  Not everyone in my house eats on such a restrictive plan as I do, especially the kids who need more carbohydrates. The core of every dinner I cook is a healthy lean and green meal, but I will often serve a starch like beans or grains on the side to make it more satisfying for them. 

#3:  Make a daily habit. Whether you choose to read a book or magazine, listen to a podcast , or go online, spending an hour of time each day thinking about health and nutrition will make a big difference in your ability to incorporate healthy eating into your everyday life.  It will keep you focused and give you a better knowledge base to make wise decisions.

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What changes have you seen within your life and your families by implementing these healthy practices?

One noteworthy change has been in my own sense of identity and being comfortable with my body. Losing weight and maintaining it has brought a great deal of self-confidence and has opened the door to trying lots of new and exciting things in life that I might have been intimidated by otherwise.

The most exciting thing to see is the effect on people around me.  By living out a healthy lifestyle, I get to be an example for others who have a similar goal, but may have lost hope or gotten frustrated in the process.  My conversation often falls into the topics of health and nutrition because it’s something I get really excited about. I love getting to share new ideas about food that show people being healthful can also taste incredibly delicious. It’s a win win!

She’s inspiring right? Katie is so passionate about helping others live a healthier life!

Now don’t be shy…you can visit her at her website or Facebook too! Go say hi! ;)

Thanks for chatting with us Katie! You go girl!



Filed under Beauty, Books, celebrate, creativity, entertaining, Food, Friends, Health, News, Stories

Intuitive Painting

Hi everyone. Hope you are all doing really well!

Okay…so, show of hands…who was looking forward to summer so badly? Couldn’t wait for the kids to be out of school…have things slow down a bit…enjoy the lack of rushed mornings and packed lunches. Sound familiar? Yeah…I was there too and now I’m kinda feeling overwhelmed/annoyed juggling a smattering of camps, all in different locations, a bored kid (when camp is over), running around like a taxi and basically having a complete lack of a schedule. Makes me a little on edge – especially when all I want to do is paint!

Now, don’t get me wrong. We’ve had a great summer so far. Got to take a few trips and make some memories with the kids but I guess I’m just a creature who likes rhythm. A consistency to each day that I can count on.

So…to soothe my nerves I’ve been spending a lot of time (when I can slip away) with my art books and journal. I’ve been incredibly inspried by Tracy Verdugo’s new book – “Paint Mojo“. Her work really speaks to me and feels so authentic and organic. You must check it out. She creates most of her work by way of Intuitive Painting, also called Expressive Painting, Soul Painting or Source Painting. Wondering what that is exactly? Well… I found this wonderful definition via here.

The medium of expressive painting exercises your creativity without concern for the results, develops greater trust in your intuition, expands your sense of freedom and possibility, and gives you a way to fearlessly explore unknown aspects of yourself.

I know it sounds a little woo woo…but I’m okay with that and let me tell you – it’s pure magic! Scary? Hell yeah. Exciting? Definitely. It is most of all – surprising! Surprising to see what unfolds in your Art, what forms arise and symbols come up.

This isn’t communing with any kind of spirit or anything like that. It’s just getting in touch with your inner self and removing the Ego, the BS, you know – all the junk that gets in the way – and letting all the beauty of your soul pour out onto your canvas. And sometimes that beauty can be kinda ugly at first and that’s ok. As you move through the work, it transforms. Remember, this kind of Art is not about the end product but rather the simple act of creating. I’ve done two works so far using this technique and they are really so different than anything I’ve ever made.

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This first attempt at making a background was tons of fun! Lots of scraping, stenciling, splattering and other fun paint verbs…

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Lots of layers, symbols and imagery came as I worked on this piece. I would often walk away when my mind would pause and then I would wander back as more images flooded in.

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This was my second Intuitve Painting back ground. Added some scraps of vintage paper to this one.

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These images came thru stronger, resulting in a more striking composition. I was braver with this one and I think you can see and feel that. Loved working in such vibrant colors even though it isn’t my typical palette. Screen Shot 2014-07-14 at 3.35.17 PM

I can’t wait to do more!!

Anyway, if you are in a creativity rut I highly recommend Tracy’s book or just pull out the Art books you already own and visit with them.

When you are ready…grab a canvas, leave your logical mind behind and let the paint flow! Be brave, trust your hand, your eyes and most importantly your heart!

Let me know if anyone gives it a go! I would love to see what you come up with! Feel free to shoot me an email with your images. It would be fun to feature some of your Intuitive Art on the blog!

Sending you all lots of love.



P.S. Okay just found this amazing video from the amazing Intuitive artist – Flora Bowley…check it out. So beautiful!





Filed under Art, Books, creativity, intuitive painting, Learning, mixed media, painting

Life lately…

Hello lovely people! How are you? Things are going very well in the Newport home. We just got back from celebrating Grace’s 8th birthday in Disneyland! The Claire Bear stayed home with the grandparents, so it was really special (and a hell of a lot easier) to just be able to spend time with Grace.

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She loved Disney…of course. Her favorite ride – Space Mountain! Below is the very embarrassing but hilarious shot that is taken while on board this insane roller coaster. Although, I look like I am about to be killed, I am actually having fun…sort of. Grace on the other hand, looks just thrilled and a lot less terrified! We laughed about this one for days…

space mountain

On the Art front, I finally completed my most recent abstract commission. It sat like this for a LONG time…

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Then one day, I just couldn’t fight it anymore…so I tackled the underpainting.

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And then finished it within a couple of days. My client loves it! Thank God! I’m so honored that it will be hanging in her front living room above the mantel. Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 1.39.14 PM

I did the underpainting in acrylic and then went over the entire thing with these water-mixable oils that I am totally in love with! I was originally trained in oils and I’ve missed them ever since art school but once acrylics became so popular I just migrated over to them. Less toxicity and easy clean up but I’ve always missed the buttery richness and blend-able quality of oil paint. Discovering these has been exciting and I want to continue exploring them.

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So…the BIG news is that I leave for my very first Art Retreat on Thursday morning with my friend Katie! I can hardly wait! It is the Nuture Your Creative Seed Retreat hosted by the lovely, Serena Berry on the enchanting Bainbridge Island, WA.

The teachers will be Jeanne Oliver and Stephanie Lee!! SO EXCITED! Jeanne has been an inspiration to me for years and was truly the one that led me back to art, so it will be such an honor to meet her and learn from her in person. I adore Stephanie’s book and her whole thought process behind her creations, not to mention all the inventive techniques she has to share, so I know she will be an amazing mentor too! I feel so grateful to be able to experience this! Like deep in my bones grateful. 4 days of art, connection, creativity and even a dash of yoga. I couldn’t ask for more! Thank you, Katie for being brave enough to join me on this adventure!

I look forward to sharing my creations and experiences with you when I return!

Have a fabulous rest of the week!

Much love,






Filed under Art, Books, creativity, Learning, painting, Thoughts, Travel

Little time, lots of inspiration.

Hello friends,

I know I promised to share more art so here are some pics of what I’ve been creating lately. I’m on week 6 of my Jeanne Oliver online art course. Its been an incredible ride! So much to learn, so much to create and SO little time! I’m trying to be patient with life and accept that I can’t paint all day while managing a household, two little kids and a very busy husband. Patience is not one my strengths.

I also have to really watch myself. You see, I get a little competitive. My fellow students are constantly posting all the beautiful art they are creating and I want to KEEP up…but alas, I simply cannot.  Luckily, we have access to the class for two years!

Here is a little Cézanne watercolor/charcoal study…this was a fun and relatively quick exercise. He was a genius at layering color with watercolors! Something, I’ve yet to master.

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Next, I attempted to paint one of Cézanne’s favorite landscapes…Mont Sainte-Victoire. He painted this scene over 60 times! This was a tricky one. SO many colors but I really enjoyed the challenge.

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Here’s a close up of my version.

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Painting Cézanne landscapes, inspired me to try one myself. Although, I’m not in love with this piece it was good for me to do something outside my comfort zone. This is an Irish landscape, depicting O’Brien’s tower.

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Then we went on to study Botticelli. I have not done my painting yet but I loved sketching from his work. His faces are brilliant and so beautiful.

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Okay, and lastly, I wanted to recommend this book to all those creative Mama’s out there! I kinda horde art books but this one is my favorites right now. It gives me hope that if I plan a little better, I can find more time for my art and not neglect my kids!

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Alright…well I best be going. I hear little Claire bear waking from her nap. Back on the job! ;)

Hope all is well in your world. Try and take time for yourself to create, read, cook or whatever makes you happy – you won’t regret you did! Also, I would love to know any tips on carving out this time – since I’m kinda struggling! Let me know what works for you!

Much love,



Filed under Art, Books, creativity, Learning, painting, Thoughts

Happy Valentine’s Day

Hello friends! Happy Friday and Happy Valentines’s to you. I hope you are surrounded by the people you love. Hubby and I are going out for a much needed date night. Can’t wait to get all prettied up and sip a fancy cocktail.

I did splurge yesterday on a little gift to myself – this book – and I’m so pleased I did. I’ve already devoured half of it and I’m loving every page. If you were a fan of Eat, Pray, Love then you will LOVE Paris Letters by Janice Macleod. I’m so tickled with the book that I just subscribed to receive one of her magical, illustrated letters from Paris via her Etsy shop. Anyways…had to share this with you!

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Okay I’m off to get ready for my date….it takes a while these days! ;)

Much love to you all,


P.S. I’ve been doing a ton of art so I promise to share more of it next week! More vintage treasures to show you too!


Filed under Books, favorite things, Love, News, Paris, photography, Still life