summer days, obsession and a new website!

Tonight is the solstice. Summer will be here for real. As I write this it's 56 degrees and raining, thunder rumbling in the distance. Doesn't exactly feel like summer.

Even so, I can't believe how quickly June is flying by. Didn't I just turn the calendar?

summer, garden, lilies, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

In the garden there's a strange combination of some things galloping (seemingly) ahead of schedule and other things growing so slowly.

summer, sunflowers, garden, flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The self-seeded sunflowers have started to bloom, but the sunflowers I planted aren't even a foot tall yet. My sweet peas haven't started blooming, but the arugula is already flowering. I did spy the first snap peas.

garden, snap peas, peas, vegetable gardening, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

And the beans are starting to twine.

garden, gardening, vegetable gardening, beans, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm trying not to miss any of it.

roses, rose hips, spent flowers, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

It all goes so fast.

summer, summer meadow, greyhounds, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I was going to focus on revamping my website this month. I figured I would do it slowly. Spending some time painting and some time on the computer. Little did I know that it would become an obsession. Once I got started, I couldn't stop. A bit like Pepper when he notices my art*.

black and white cat, adopt don't shop, rescue cat, art, art studio, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I've been focused. Overly focused. Even when I wasn't working on my website I was thinking about it, trying to work out problems in my head. I use Squarespace for my website. In general it's easy to use for non-tech people, once you get the hang of it. But there is a learning curve. Especially when you're trying new features or switching templates. For this re-design I decided to switch templates, give things a totally new look. I'm fairly tech savvy, but even so, it took me a while to figure out what the heck was going on with all the features. Squarespaces tutorials and guides are invaluable.

My new site went live yesterday. I'm still tinkering, but I'm happy enough with it that I think I can (mostly) leave it alone. For now.

website, My Giant Strawberry, Anne Butera

I hope you'll take a look and let me know what you think. Is it easy to navigate? Do the sections make sense? Let me know if you notice anything that doesn't work or that is confusing.

Now that my website is "finished" I need to finish tweaking my blog design, but I'm not quite feeling up to it yet. Do you have any strong feelings about blog designs? Are there features you wish mine had to make it easier to read or to navigate? I'd love to know what you think.

I've been so focused on my website this last week that I have barely done any art at all.

I did manage to do some practice petunia sketches. I want to paint a larger piece, but as I was preparing I realized that I was a bit nervous about it. I've never painted petunias before and their shape is deceptively simple. It's been a while since I've been flummoxed by a painting subject and so I had to remind myself that the answer is simply to sketch. I sketched with pencil and then I sketched with watercolor.

watercolor, painting, process, sketching, botanical watercolor, botanical illustration, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I really should have taken more photos while I was working on this. I often say that it's important to keep going when I'm working on watercolor paintings, that in the middle they often look terrible. That was certainly the case for this one. It's tempting to abandon a project when it's at that stage, but it's important not to.

I guess that's the case with a lot of things. Don't give up on them when you're part-way through. If you're in the middle of a project (or even in the beginning stages), I hope you'll keep that in mind!

Wishing you a happy solstice!

*in fact he's looking at his reflection. He is a bit obsessed with staring at his reflection. He sees it in the oven door, the refrigerator, computer screens, and yes, mirrors, too.


  1. Congratulations on the new website, Anne. I think it gives a real sense of who you are and what you most care about. Best wishes.

  2. Hi Anne,
    The new website is lovely. I think it shares who you are and your passion.
    The photos are excellent!
    Also, my sister loved her print. Thank You for the extra care put into the packaging.

    1. Thank you, Carla! So glad your sister liked her print. What a thoughtful gift!

      Big hugs to you!

  3. Hi Anne,
    Love your new website. To me, it is fresh, lovely and full of information! Your paintings are exquisite and I just love that photo of Pepper seeming to be absorbed in your artwork! Well worth the time you put into it!

    1. Judy, your encouragement and support mean so much to me. Thank you for your kind words about my art and my new website.

      Pepper sure is a sweetie. I'm so glad to have these kitties in my life.

  4. Anne, your new website is stunning. You did a great job. I love the layout, the design and colors. It's a beautiful reflection of you not only as a talented artist, but as a stellar person. Your personality really shines through on every page. Well done. I wish you continued success as you move forward. Hugs, Nancy

    1. Thank you so much, Nancy. Your kindness and encouragement truly mean a lot to me.

      Sending big hugs back to you!

  5. Anne, your new website is visually beautiful and professional looking so well done to you! You have made good use of the space filling it with your exquisite trademark botanical illustrations and informing the reader of your art journey and inspirations. With regards to this blog, I think that the photo of Pepper looking intently at your watercolour is a wonderful image! Even if he is just looking at his reflection it suggests that he is casting a critical eye over the finer detail 'hmmm, I am sure I spotted a bee there yesterday.'

    1. Thank you, Simone! Your encouragement means a lot to me. I'm so glad you like the new website.

      Yes, I do love that photo of Pepper. These cats keep me constantly entertained. It's hard to remember what life was like before they were here. They bring me so much joy.

      You and your comments bring me joy as well!

      Have a lovely week!

  6. Your website is such a lovely reflection of who you are, Anne. Spot on.

    1. Thanks so much, Karen. All of this (life, art, everything) is always a work in progress. It's sometimes amazing to look at all of it and see how much progress really has occurred! Thank you for being here for so much of my journey!


  7. You hit the nail on the head about how quick this summer is passing by, it feels like just yesterday it was March and I was planning the planting for the season, now it's already coming into July! The new site looks great and it is easily navigable and aesthetically pleasing, keep up the good work!

    Simon Quinn @ Marine Dealer Solutions


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