A Starry Sky and Painted Leaves

This is what's on my desk this week.......

Watercolor Night Sky and Leaf designs: Grow Creative Blog
Watercolor Night Sky Landscape: Grow Creative Blog

My starry night sky landscape is a practice piece for a Craftsy tutorial I'm working on. I'm using salt and rubbing alcohol on top of the watercolor paint to create texture. Fun stuff!

And the watercolor leaf painting was a spur of the moment idea.  I was feeling the purples and oranges here and I love how the colors all worked out.  I framed it in one of my freshly painted blue frames and hung it up in the guest room :)

What are you working on this week?

Leaf Design in Purple and Orange Hues: Grow Creative Blog
Leaf Design in Purple and Orange Hues: Grow Creative Blog

Photos of the Week

Fall has the best color of the year.  It takes the cake! This is the view from the school that I get to marvel at when I drop my son off for the day.

Please note that no editing was used on these photos.  These are the real deal.... the real colors with real intensity. 

Sagebrush, mountains, and lake in yellow and blue: Grow Creative Blog

Fall Sunflower: Grow Creative Blog

Blossoming Yellow Sage Brush

And these beauties are my purple asters growing in my front yard.  I don't know why I didn't try planting these earlier!

Purple Aster Flowers: Grow Creative Blog
Purple Aster Flowers: Grow Creative Blog

It's on bad-headache-days like today that I really appreciate the beauty of my little world.  I don't have to go far to enjoy it. Even if I have to spend most of my day in bed, I can get up once in a while, walk to the front porch, and smile.

Fall Forest Landscape

Watercolor Forest Landscape Painting by Elise Engh
Watercolor Forest Landscape Painting by Elise Engh
Watercolor Forest Landscape Painting by Elise Engh

The leaves have changed in the mountains here and it's gotten me in the mood to paint some fall forest scenes!

I've got a lot to improve in the landscape department, but this, I feel, is a good start. My painting doesn't look much like the photo I painted from either.  I have a more loose style.  I guess I've never been into photo-realism.  I figure, you can use a camera for that.   For painting, I like to use looser, more intuitive strokes with feeling!

Photos of the Week

Another adventure to a local waterfall.  Battle Creek Falls in Pleasant Grove is a beautiful hike!

Green and yellow fall leaves: grow creative blog
Battle Creek Falls: Grow Creative Blog

Battle Creek Falls Trail: Grow Creative Blog

The fall colors were showing here and there and it was actually cold! We aren't quite ready to pack our shorts up for the winter, so that was a shock to us.

How lucky we feel that we have all these amazing hikes so close to us! You don't have to go to Disneyland (all though, that's pretty awesome too) or even the National Parks.  You can explore your own backyard and have a lovely time.  Just remember to bring a jacket!

Green Cactus Paintings

My love of painting cactus continues.............

Green Watercolor Cactus Landscape in Watercolor by Elise Engh

I've been trying out different methods of painting these prickly plants.  My favorite is still the loose, less realistic style. I could paint millions of these because they are so fun and free, but I stopped at about five because one can only have so many cactus paintings around!  

Watercolor Cactus Paintings by Elise Engh
Watercolor Cactus Paintings by Elise Engh
Green Watercolor Cactus Landscape in Watercolor by Elise Engh

Do you paint cactus? Which method do you prefer?

Photos of the Week

The leaves changed way way early this year.  I'm glad we took a little trip to Midway to see them!

And I'm also glad we visited Bridal Veil Falls again.  It was our second time this year, but the husband didn't get to go the first time.  One of my favorite, short hikes.
Bridal Veil Falls, Utah

Living with chronic illness has taught me many things.  One of which, is to take advantage of the days you feel well because you need those fun times with family to get you through the days you don't feel well.

Chronic illness can make you feel like you are on the sidelines, watching everyone else go on with their lives, have kids, take vacations, and have adventures that your body does not allow you to have. That is the hardest part.  I'd say, even harder than the pain.  That feeling of being stuck and not able to progress, of feeling left-out and left behind is the toughest part for me for sure.

So, illness has taught me to take advantage of the good times, and to make the small things count, however small they may be.  Even if I haven't been able to have more children, or visit my hometown in Arizona for over a year, or reach my goals in the way that I want, I know that I have progressed spiritually and that I appreciate the small moments, like a hike with family, so much more.

So even if you don't struggle with your health, you may one day and wish that you had appreciated and taken advantage of your abilities.  Live your life everyday with gratitude and optimism.  Put the work aside, throw the schedule out the window, even let your kid ditch school for a day, and have fun with your family!

Motherhood and Art

Painting with my son. Finding balance with motherhood and art.  Grow Creative Blog

My son and I had a painting session out on our porch one beautiful day.  It made my heart so happy to share my love of art with the child I love most in this world.

He mostly takes after his dad. He loves science, math, and technology.  I love that about him.  He inherited his dad's curious, and sciency mind. But I try to influence him in the arts as well. Some things just don't take. Like piano. It's not something he will ever be really interested in. But with art I can engage him. He loves to put his ideas down on paper.

So he put a stuffed animal up on the window ledge and painted a pretty accurate depiction of that scene while I doodled with my paints.  It was heavenly.  I felt very connected with my child.

abstract watercolors

As an artist and a mother at the same time, I've struggled to find a good balance.  I'm sure most of us mothers do.  How much time is too much time to spend on art or other pursuits? How do we involve our children in those pursuits so that we do connect?

Having only one child, I understand the importance of paying attention to your child and connecting and enjoying the short time that you have together.  Childhood moves by too quickly and if you aren't careful, you miss it. You can't get that back either!

Sometimes I feel guilty for spending time on my art, but then, I've come to see as my son has grown up, that even though we can't always do our art projects together, there is value in his mother having a passion, as long as the passion doesn't become the priority.  He sees me working and improving myself. He sees my ambition. He is surrounded by creative processes and wants to create too.

And then there is the fact that feeding myself creatively makes me a happier person, a better mother and wife.

So, how do you find balance? What keeps you in check?

Photos of the Week

Good beautiful day from the land of the lake!

Lake shore of Utah Lake

I have family in town this week for the arrival of my new nephew! New babies are so special and I feel so blessed to be an aunt as well as a mother.  

This morning I took my youngest sister out for a walk by the lake.  She lives far away in Arizona so I don't get much one-on-one time with her.  We had the best time talking about hang gliders and kites and enjoying the best weather of the year. I just know that deep down, my little sis has an adventurer in her!

As we sat throwing rocks into a somewhat slimy lake, we found a friend sitting patiently right next to us. 

Lake shore of Utah Lake

Some days are just blessed and this has been one of those days.  Hope your day is blessed too!

Photographing Pears

Green Pears: Grow Creative Blog


My little family went fruit picking a few weeks ago and while we didn't actually pick these pears, we still obtained them from a farm.  (We picked peaches from the orchards because that's what was ripe at the time.)

In the past I've written a lot about painting pears; how I love their shapes and frequently buy pears just so I can paint them.  I even wrote two watercolor pear tutorials: one for painting a realistic pear still life and one for painting a pear silhouette.  It's a fruit I've always been in love with but hadn't spent much time photographing until now.  

Pear Slices: Grow Creative Blog
Green Pears: Grow Creative Blog

Turns out, they are just about as fun to photograph as they are to paint!  I placed these pears on a tray near my kitchen window and shot away with my camera, trying all kinds of configurations.  I love how photography allows me to play with compositions so easily.

I'm thinking all of these shots would make awesome oil paintings one day!  I just need to get into oils again- it's been too long.