This and That

Spring weather has finally returned and it's making me giddy.

spring, garden, violas, cinder blocks, cinder block garden, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I much prefer sunshine and blue skies to last week's snow!

snow, spring, April, Tulips, Garden, Wisconsin, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I just stepped out to the garden to take a few photographs and noticed a distinctive spring sound amid the goldfinch and robin song. An oriole. Not long later, I spotted him in the maple tree.

spring, trees, skies, orioles, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Can you find the flash of orange? Even without it, I love the chartreuse of the maple flowers against that blue, blue sky.

This weather, the spring growth and blossoming lifts my spirits like nothing else.

garden, lilac, spring, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've missed spending time in my garden.

euphorbia, garden, gardening, spring, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Gardening is so much about hope. Hope and faith. Tiny seeds tucked into the dirt miraculously transform into something amazing. Sunflowers, tomatoes, sweet peas, zinnias... It's exciting to watch seedlings emerge. Like these cup and saucer vine seedlings.

cup and saucer vine, cathedral bells, seedlings, newspaper seed pots, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I had given up hope of them sprouting (my fault, I didn't give them enough heat when I first planted them and then a couple days after I moved them outside to my mini greenhouse on the patio with the idea it would get warmer in there, it snowed!). Yesterday I peeked into the greenhouse and saw that they finally had sprouted, nearly every seed, too!

Now that it's nice enough to spend time in my garden again, I'm going to have to figure out a new schedule, juggling art, gardening and my work at the library. All the more reason to revise my blog plan.

Thank you, to each of you who have already taken my survey. It's been interesting to read. I expected some of the responses and some have been surprising. I will leave the survey open a bit longer, but I plan to share the results with you soon. (If you haven't yet taken the survey, please do!). I also appreciate all the thoughtful comments that were left on my post from the other day. I truly appreciate each and every comment.

One surprising response asked about my blog/business name. I forget the people might not know the story behind My Giant Strawberry. (The strawberry at the bottom of the page links to the story, unless you're viewing my blog in the mobile version, in which case there is no strawberry at the bottom of the page. My Start Here page also shares a link to the story, but, again, if you're viewing the mobile version there's no sidebar with that link. Hmmm...) I wrote a blog post about the giant strawberry, but that was a while back. If you missed the story and are wondering what the name is all about, follow the links above (or this one or this one). Here's a hint: it's about re-capturing childlike wonder, creativity and joy. I think I'll also add a link back to the top navigation on my blog.

sketchbook, tulips, painting, watercolor, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Before I return to my painting table* (and then out to the garden), there are a few things I want to share with you!

First, my newest class is now available on Skillshare! Here's a peek:

I created it because of requests from some of my students (thank you for sharing your feedback!!) and because for the month of May Spoonflower's design challenges are all watercolor-based. If you've been wanting to push yourself, now might be the time! You can join my class here.

And speaking of Spoonflower, right now they're having a sale! They say it's their biggest sale of the year. If you've had your eye on something or if you'd like to try printing and purchasing some of your own designs, do it! As I said in the intro video for my new class, it's so exciting and satisfying to see your artwork on fabric and products!

As for products, Society6 is having a sale right now, too. 20% off everything, plus free worldwide shipping. I might have to buy a few more notebooks!

I finally got around to reading When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (thanks to Karen's recommendation). Wow. A powerful, beautifully written book.
In addition to a big stack of inspiring books from the library (might be time for another Books post?), I also recently got this book in the mail:

Uppercase Encyclopedia of Inspiration, Feed Sacks, Uppercase Magazine, Janine Vangool

Do you know about the Uppercase Encyclopedia of Inspiration? Such a cool project from Janine Vangool of Uppercase Magazine (if you don't know about Uppercase Magazine, you should! It's independently published and ads free. Expensive, but worth every penny). Feed Sacks is the first of the series and it is huge, beautiful and filled with inspiration. I imagine it helping provide me with ideas for my sketchbook when I'm feeling uninspired. Watch the video, you won't be able to resist. The second volume, Stitch*Illo, is at the printers right now and I'm so excited that I'll get to see it in person soon, too. Preorders of the encyclopedia are funding the project, so if you're interested, don't wait. You'll get Feed Sacks now and the others as they come out. The third book, to arrive later this year, is called Botanica.
For more artistic inspiration, take a look at Jen Hewett's blog. She's doing a series that spotlights a different printmaker each week. Last week's was Valorie Wells. So inspiring!
Ok, that's all for now. I hope you have a lovely weekend filled with creativity, sunshine and flowers!

garden, spring, peonies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

*here's another painting that I nearly gave up on. That first flower wasn't working and because I kept getting sidetracked by other things, my model had shattered and I couldn't refer to it for help. I cut more flowers and started painting another, just for practice beside it. Letting go of any intention of creating a finished piece is incredibly freeing. Sometimes changing your intention is all you need in order to turn things around. 


  1. Very pleased that spring has paid you a visit Anne. Getting out and about in your garden again will do you the World of good. Unfortunately here the weather has taken a turn for the worst with chilly days and grey uninspiring skies! I am hopeful that the good weather will return again. I hope you are enjoying the weekend so far. :)

    1. Sorry to hear that your weather has turned dreary, Simone. Maybe the sun has cleared those skies?

      Have a good week ahead, filled with creativity and joy!

  2. I like this post, Anne. Filled with optimism and joy. As well as lovely nature photography. Feed sacks, grain sacks. . .these take me back to my growing up days on the family farm. Farm wives made good use of the empty sacks. Frugal, simple living. The best. Your tulip is stunning. Hugs, Nancy

    1. Thank you, Nancy!

      Frugal, simple living IS the best. And those feed sacks are truly beautiful as well as being practical.

      Hugs to you! Have a lovely week!

  3. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend Anne as is evident from your post. Spring always bring life, freshness and colours with it and it shows in your paintings.


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