Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"Upon this rock, I will build my church"

"The Chapel on the Rock"
Saint Malo Church in Estes Park, Colorado

During  a quest to find the impact site from a falling star in 1916, Monsignor Joseph Bosetti came across a large rock formation just east of Rocky Mountain National Park.  Stirred by the biblical phrase "upon this rock I will build my church, " Bosetti soon  began to envision a church perched on the rock he had just discovered.  As with many dreams, Bosetti's lack of funds delayed construction for nearly 20 years.  
Eventually, the land for the church and retreat center was donated by Mr. and Mrs. Oscar Malo, and Never architect Jacques Benedict transposed Bosetti's dream to pair.  With Mount Meeker as a backdrop, the Chapel on the Rock took shaper.  Here in this dramatic Rocky Mountain setting, Bosetti's dream was complete in 1936. 

Wishing you and yours a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 11, 2016

St. Peters Church in Marlow, England

Last Sunday evening, my church in The Woodlands held "A Lesson in Carols and Service."  A beautiful evening of scripture and music, much of it acapella, that's origins go back to 1880 in England.  Held in our small chapel, the music was so deep and moving, but what came to my mind was this church, I had sketched over a year ago, St. Peters Roman Catholic Church in Marlow, UK.

This small gothic church, located on the River Thames, about 35 miles west of London, was built in 1845.  In my mind, I took myself back in time to that day and place and imagined the beautiful voices resonating in the old stone church. 

Take a moment and close your eyes and imagine.... can you hear the singing??

Monday, December 5, 2016

Steeple churches of New England

In the Fall of 2010, my husband and I enjoyed a long weekend getaway to The Berkshires in Western Massachusetts.  We loved the tall steeple churches in each quaint community we traveled through.  This one is The First Congregational Church in Lee, Massachusetts.  It was built in 1857 and is the tallest timber framed steeple in all of New England, reaching a height of 185 ft.   These small towns were scattered about, sometimes just few miles apart, but each with it's picturesque church on Main Street in the center of town.  It reminded us of the time when church was the central part of the community and at the heart of it's people.  Those days were a bit slower and simpler...  something I am striving for this Christmas Season.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Christmas Churches

Hi!  Remember me??  
I can't remember a time when I've not posted anything new in over a month, but it's been a busy one!  As mentioned in my previous post, I helped my mom and dad move to The Woodlands!   In addition to settling them in, I've been busy as Santa's helper with some Christmas surprises!  Since I can't post those until after the holidays, I thought I'd re-post some of my favorite church sketches from over the years.  

I know Christmas is coming when I see the Christmas Tree up in front of The Woodlands United Methodist Church at the corner of Lake Front and Lake Woodlands Drive.  And since this is my home church, I thought it would be a good place to start this Christmas Churches series.   

 If you live in the area, more than likely you pass that corner on the way to Market Street and the Mall.... next time, slow down, take a deep breath and remember 
the Reason for the Season.  
Happy Birthday Jesus!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2016


Another "blast from the past" as I get ready to hop on another plane!  Today, I've got a one-way ticket to Florida, where I'll help my mom and dad with the last of the packing details before the movers come on Friday and we drive "home" to The Woodlands!  I'm am beyond happy to welcome them to my town, but also a bit nostalgic about leaving the city I grew up in.   I can only imagine how they feel after 60 years of raising kids, a successful career in business and community and so many happy memories with so many friends in St. Pete.  

After leaving upstate New York in 1956, with a u-haul, 3 kids and a lot of faith for a bright future, this was our first house in St. Pete.   I lived here from the time I was two until five years old.  

"And where we love is Home.  
Home that our feet may leave, but not our hearts....
the chain may lengthen but it never parts."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. -

Cheers to "new beginnings" for my Mom and Dad!

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Salt Remedy

I put aside my pen & ink and watercolors this past week to do some murals for a new business in our community... Salt Remedy!  A natural approach, combined with thousands of years of the health benefits of salt,  bring relief to those that suffer from asthma, allergies, skin conditions and stress!  

"Salt Remedy" offers four different therapy rooms to fit your specific needs.  One room is a a private retreat, while the other three are for individuals or groups!  These three rooms are where I spent my time painting!
"Life" - 14' + 6' x 9'

The kids room , called "Life" offers a Himalayan Sea Salt Beach for kids to play in during their therapy sessions.  This bright and colorful beach scene will take you there!

"Salt"- 17' x 9'
The Group therapy room, called "Salt" is for adults... time for quiet meditation or reading in a relaxing, spa-like environment.  Just breathe and let the salt do it's cleansing work.  With only ambient lighting, you can drift away as you stare into the mountain scene beyond the Himalayan salt brick wall.

"Breathe" 12' x 9'

The Multi Purpose Room, "Breathe" is just that... imagine a place for your yoga class, or book club meeting to discuss the latest best seller.  This is the place to grab your friends and reserve this room  for a healthy and unique experience! 

Visit their website to learn more!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Coll family home with a photo bomb!

I have loved doing these sketches for the Coll Family.  This is their house in McKinney, TX where they lived in 1996-97 and the 6th in my series of the homes they've lived in over the years.  

Like many clients, we have become Facebook Friends and I have gotten to know the family via photo's on social media.  Mario, their oldest of three sons is now an Aggie, all grown up, a good looking grad student with a bright future...  but about half way thru my sketch, after being so focused on the architectural details of the house did I see little Mario, just 3 years old, all bundled up and peeking out from behind the tree while mom took a picture of the house on a rare Texas snowy day .... and my heart smiled! 

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Habitat for Humanity Auction Item

I am always grateful for the opportunity to donate a "sketch of YOUR favorite place" to our local non-profits fundraising events.  This sketch was done for the couple with the highest bid at the Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery County Gala that was held last spring.  If you've read my "Meet Barbara" page on my website then you know that HFH is near and dear to my heart. 

In the next few weeks I will be posting a few of my "oldies but goodies" while I work on some murals for a new business here in The Woodlands... be sure and stay tuned for a sneak peak on that... then I will get back to business on The National Park series.  I still have a few more to do, so if you've got a favorite park, let me know and you may see it here in a couple of weeks!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dry Tortuga National Park

Dry Tortuga is one of the most unique and interesting National Parks.  Only accessible by boat (or seaplane!) it is located on the last of the Florida Keys, 68 miles west of Key West. My husband and I visited here in March 2011, and had the opportunity to explore one of the islands, Garden Key

As a National Park, it was established in 1962, but it's rich history began in 1513 when Ponce de Leon landed here and gave it the name "Tortugas" spanish for turtles.  A little later, the additional "Dry" was added to warn sailors running low on fresh water that they would not find any there.  The United States acquired the island from Spain in 1822, establishing a lighthouse on the island of Garden Key and later, in 1846 began construction on the US Army Fort Jefferson as a base to control the ships entering the Gulf of Mexico. 

 The fort was huge, enough to house 1500 soldiers.  With 16 million bricks and 8 foot thick walls it was a fortress.  One of it's most famous claims to fame is that during the Civil war it became a military prison, with it's most  famous resident being Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who helped John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Lincoln.  While serving his time, he saved many lives at Fort Jefferson during an epidemic of yellow fever and was pardoned in 1869.  Eventually the lack of available water presented problems and though construction continued thru the Civil war, the fort was abandoned in 1874.  

The park encompasses over 100 square miles, 99 percent of which is underwater.   I look forward to returning someday to explore the rest with my snorkel and fins!! 

Learn more about Dry Tortuga National Park at:

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! 

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Our National Parks

Each year, I take a mother - daughter trip with one of my girls.  More often than not we tend to end up in a National Park!  

Last year, Sarah and I took a three day rafting trip down the Colorado River in The Grand Canyon.  You can see more about that trip on my blog: www.mythird.act - July 2015. 

Tomorrow, my daughter Katie and I will be traveling to The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park.  If you follow accentsinart on Instagram, I'll be sharing this magnificent area of our country there.  Yellowstone was our first National Park, founded in 1872.  Currently there are 59 Parks and I have been fortunate to visit 15 of them... so far!  

Our National Park Service is celebrating it's 100th anniversary on August 25th, to commemorate that special occasion, I am going to be doing a series of watercolors of some of my and YOUR favorite scenes in our National Parks.  If you have a digital photo of your favorite place in a National Park, send it to me at and tell me why it has a special memory for you! 
Who knows what might happen, you may see it here!!!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Coll Family home in Mandeville

Number six in a series of seven for the Coll Family!  
This home is located in Mandeville, Louisiana where they lived from 1993-1996 and their second son was born.

  Once again, I sketched this home to the likeness it was when they lived there. When I recall the homes I've lived in over the years, each one holds special memories for me.   I travel back in time ... and I can still imagine those little toddler hands curling over the top of the dining room table at my home in Virginia.  I remember when dozens of little Girl Scouts enjoyed a slumber party on Doliver Drive and the excitement of prom night on Tanager Trail.  I re-live the parties and Christmas mornings with friends and family on Shearwater Place, and even now when I look at the house I currently live in, I imagine me at the front window and think of how I like to stare down the street in anticipation, when my kids are coming home for a visit!  

It's not just the exterior walls and landscaping, or the doors and windows that I sketch ... it's picturing the life that goes on inside and that's what warms my heart!  

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Coll Family home in Lake Charles

I love when I get to do a series of homes that my clients have lived in!  This one, in Lake Charles, Louisiana is the 5th in a series of 7 that the Coll family lived in.   It was actually their first house as newlyweds and they called it "home"  from 1991-1992.  

For my sketch I worked from several of their old photo's as well as the current "google street view!"   So much has changed since they lived there, even the street name!  But of course we re-constructed their memories with the tall pines and pre-shuttered windows as they remember it!


Thursday, June 2, 2016

House warming gift for a new homeowner!

One of my favorite times to sketch a home is when it is going to be a gift for a new homeowner.   This one is in a brand new neighborhood in The Woodlands,  Creekside Village.  I don't know if it's a "first home" for this couple, or just one in their life's history, but I hope it will be filled with many special memories in the years to come!  

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Happy Anniversary to Brenda & Jeff!

About ten years ago during my Interior Designer days, I worked with my clients, Brenda and Jeff,  to remodel their kitchen and get settled into their new home in The Woodlands.  Being in the oil business, they had lived all over the world, and were happy to finally make some roots near family, and very much hoping to stay awhile!   Now, to commemorate this house as the longest house they've ever lived in, and celebrating their 41st wedding  anniversary, they asked me to do this sketch of it for them!  

The added bonus for me was that we became great friends then and still are!  Happy Anniversary!

**I'm going on vacation!!**
So, I won't be posting anything new here for the next couple of weeks, however I will post some "poolside sketching" and photo's of lovely Cabo San Jose on Instagram...
you can follow me there @accentsinart
adios amigos!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A rainy day's work!

A Rainy Day
+ "Broadway Showstoppers" on Pandora 
+ A blank wall for a good cause 
+ my paint supplies
 A perfect day!

I was so happy to paint this mural (5' x11') for the BridgeWay Youth Shelter for Montgomery County Youth Services.  The Leadership Montgomery County Class of 2016 chose the renovation of these homes, and the creation of interactive programming of kids as their class project.    The new residents of this home will write their names on each of the leaves as they make "roots" in their new home!

For more information on both of these great organizations  please visit their websites at: