Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Established 1994

Soooo... I had never heard of Joshua Tree National Park, nor did I have any idea what a Joshua Tree was.  My daughter, Sarah visited Southern California and this national park a while back so I asked her about it...  her response was "you know mom, it's the Dr. Seuss trees!"  And so, forever imprinted in my mind is Thing One and Thing Two roaming around in the California desert, and then The Cat in the Hat popping out (Boo!) from behind one of these cartoonish trees!

With that in mind, I am taking a more comical and colorful approach to this sketch!  Seems a little bit more like "paint by numbers" than a work of art, but I had fun... and at the end of the day, that's what it's all about!

Learn more about Joshua Tree National Park at:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Zion National Park

The five beautiful national parks of south Utah will always have a special significance for me.

In September of 2001 my dear friend, Andrea Townsend and I had planned a fun adventure to tour the five parks in her home state.  Then 9/11 happened.  After the shock and horror of that day, we wondered if we should just stay home with our families and play it safe.   After spending weeks glued to the TV news, we were depressed and scared for the future of our country but as the weeks grew closer to our scheduled trip we eventually decided that this trip was exactly what was needed to do.  We agreed to turn off the news and instead we would turn our minds and hearts to the positive and hopeful by reconnecting with the great beauty of God's world in our National Parks.  Knowing that the God who created the beauty before us, was also in control of the chaos of these days and we would always be safe in His hands.  

So we spent an amazing week together.  First in Arches National Park (pictured above) then traveling through Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP,  and Bryce NP before completing our heart filling journey in Zion NP.  

Established as a national park in 1919, this area is considered by most geologists to be the planets largest dune field, blown here from the Appalachian Mountains, back during the Jurassic era.    Today, a glorious vision of sandstone cliffs, rushing rivers and lush greenery.  Issac Behunin, an early settler in the area once exclaimed "A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man man-made church - this is Zion"   
And the name stuck!   

Andrea and I hiked the trails, took in the milky way on a clear night, laughed, prayed and sang together.  This weeks National Park Art is of Angels Landing, one of my favorite vista's .... I do believe that their are angels everywhere watching over us, especially in these days and I can't imagine a better place for them to arrive than here!

Andrea and Barbara - Zion National Park - September 2001

Learn more about the National Parks in Utah by visiting:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

From the first NP (Yellowstone) to my favorite (Grand Teton) we now visit the Easternmost National Park located on the coast of Maine.  

I am a sucker for lighthouses!!  In the fall of 2013 following a wedding in Martha's Vineyard, my husband and I took a road trip from Boston to Bar Harbor along Hwy. 1.  I sought out and photographed at least 9 different lighthouses along the way, each one unique.  At the end of our trip we enjoyed two lovely days in Acadia National Park and I was looking forward to seeing the Bass Harbor Lighthouse on the southern tip of Mount Desert Island.  However,  just prior to that we stopped at Jordan Pond and I decided I wanted to take a photo of the bridge from the riverbank, so I ran... and ultimately tumbled down that rocky path and ended up flying into the rocks, smashed my camera and banged up my knee!  But that didn't stop me from getting to this "last but not least" lighthouse, perched amongst the rocky cliffs!   Unfortunately with no camera to record this image I needed to rely on google images for this painting!  

But I digress.... more about Acadia National Park:
Because of it's beauty and remoteness, Mount Desert Island began to attract the rich and famous in the 19th Century.  Wealthy families such as the Astors, Vanderbilts and Carnegies built magnificent mansions on the islands northeast coast...ultimately becoming known as "Millionaires Row."  Soon, hotels and tourists followed and the wealthy part-time residents became concerned that the island would lose the qualities that made it so attractive.  One of them, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated 11,000 acres in 1919 to what was originally named Lafayette National Park.  Now, with 50,000 acres and a new name (in 1929) Acadia National Park is one of the most popular national parks and the only one located in the North East USA.

For more information about Acadia National Park go to:

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Grand Teton National Park

Next stop on the National Park tour is
Grand Teton National Park

Founded in 1929, it may not have been the first, like Yellowstone, it's neighbor to the north, but it is my personal favorite.   My mom and dad started with a 3 week timeshare back in 1980, which ultimately developed into a full time residence, mostly enjoyed in the summertime.  My brother and his wife live there year round now and I visit as often as possible.  When this e-mail hits your in-box, my husband and I will have just arrived!!  

For me, the real beauty of this park is found on hikes up into the canyons and around the many lakes that lie in front of the range.  Most folks see the Tetons from the Rockefeller Highway that runs north / south on the way to Yellowstone.  This view is from a turnout on that road where Ansel Adams took the famous photo shown below.   When my daughter and I were there a few weeks ago, we got up at 5:30 am to catch the sunrise on the tip of "The Grand."  It took my breath away.  This painting doesn't come close to doing it justice... you really need to make the trip and see it for yourself!!

The Tetons and The Snake River by Ansel Adams 1942

See more of the Tetons by following me on Instagram
and learn more about GTNP by visiting:

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Yellowstone National Park

Happy 100th Birthday to the National Park Service!!

It seemed fitting that my first watercolor for the National Park series would be of our first National Park!!

Yellowstone National Park was established in1872, before the states that now surround it became part of the Union.  Covering just under 3500 square miles, it's one of the biggest parks in the USA.  I read that if you drive on every road in the park, you'll only cover 1%!  My daughter Katie and I visited there just a few weeks ago and as always I am just blown away by the sheer beauty of this park, each quadrant different from the next.  Forests, plains and canyons and then theres the awe and wonder of the thermal activity: geysers, mud pots and hot springs that pop up in the most unusual places. Not to mention the waterfalls!!   It is all so varied and magnificent.  God's handiwork is everywhere!

This sketch is one of the iconic views of the Lower Falls in the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  It was considered THE Grand Canyon, until another one in Arizona became a park in 1919!  It is actually an ancient geyser basin, and over millennia the hot water and chemical weakened the bedrock changing the shape and colors to what you see today.

To learn more about Yellowstone National Park visit:

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Austin Family Home

One of the things I love most about home sketching, is learning the stories that go with them... what makes this house, a's history and the memories.   This story in particular really touched my heart.

My client, an Austin Realtor wanted a very special closing gift for her very special client who was now selling this home for her parents who had recently passed away.  Their home was built in 1959 and her parents had lived there for a half century, something unheard of these days... and it was where she and her brother had both grown up.  My heart just melts when I imagine all the memories she had there and the emotions she must have felt.  

I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be able to be a part of giving them this keepsake to help them remember and treasure their past. 

Thank you Liz Zepeda of North Pier Realty in Austin for reaching out to me.  It truly was my pleasure!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Family Tree

I was thrilled to do this new project for my client 
as a gift for her parents 60th Anniversary!

I am all about families and love that each one is unique... always growing and changing with the "seasons of life!"   This one even leaves room for some grand-kids to add a spouse and lots and lots of great-grand babies!!  What could be better than that?

Consider one for your family or for an upcoming special occasion.  Each one can be customized to fit your families distinctive needs  with it's one-of-a-kind design drawn specifically to illustrate your unique family tree!