Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Good, the Bad and the... Beautiful

Oh my, have these been trying times of late. One heartbreaking story after another in the news. Even our little town's newspaper (where the police blotter is usually filled with stories of escaped cows in the road) has had more than its fair share of heartbreak lately. At times like this its easy to feel overwhelmed. To feel helpless. To feel hopeless.

But, oh, is it important that we don't let that happen.

gardening, garden, late summer, autumn, lisianthus, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I was thinking the other day about my article in Artful Blogging. I wrote it last summer and the magazine came out last fall. I wrote: "Art is a small thing. Blogging is a small thing. In the face of the world's darkness, what difference does it make?... sometimes I struggle to keep my faith in the importance of beauty at a time when heartbreaking news headlines seem to be more frequent." Sadly, the frequency of heartbreaking news headlines has not decreased. Will it ever? I don't know.

watercolor, paint, color, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

But I think that my faith in the importance of beauty, in the strength of doing "small things with great love" has grown over the past year.

There will always be ugliness in this world, but there will always be beauty, too.

roses, garden, late summer, beauty, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

There will always be hatred in this world, but there will always, always be love.

studio, studio cats, art studio, watercolor, 2018 Watercolor Art Print Calendar, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

This weekend I was reading a community magazine. Based in Decorah, Iowa, Inspired calls itself "an experiment in positive news." They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this fall. In the letter from the editor, Aryn Henning Nichols writes "It's so easy to feel completely helpless when we read the daily news. 'What can we possibly do?!?' we ask ourselves. Talk to your neighbors. Make friends. Build community. Start to understand each other a little more every day. This is what we can do."

meadow, wildflowers, country, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Her words resonated so strongly with me. Community is a powerful thing. Here on the internet I value the community I've become a part of.

watercolor, art, process, color, paint, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

The kindness and encouragement. The inspiration and the love. I am so glad to have each of you here reading these words, leaving comments, sending emails, supporting my art.*

art, watercolor, packaging, wrapping, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

One thing that has struck me moving from the city to a small town in the country is how people help one another here. Our town certainly isn't perfect. There's more than a little tension between the old timers and the transplants, but community is strong. People support small businesses here. Business owners encourage and help the growth of new businesses. People are friendly. They wave and smile at strangers. And it still boggles my mind that the fire fighters are all volunteers (I recently went on a tour of the fire station and was moved by the selflessness of a volunteer fire department).

We don't need to join the volunteer fire department in order to make a difference, though. Be kind. Show love. Compassion. Understanding. Encouragement. Shine a light into the darkness. Add your beauty to the world, whatever that beauty might be.

watercolor, goldfish, watercolor goldfish, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Beauty is important. And yes, I believe that it can change the world. Won't you help me do it?

studio, cats, joy, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I'm going to be taking a little blog break, an internet fast and a vacation. My next post will show up on September 25th. Sending each of you thoughts of hope and joy and love. Keep on shining your light into the darkness.

*Thank you to each of you who voted for my design in Spoonflower's Fall Design Contest. Sadly, my design placed 65. Yes, I was more than a little disappointed, but I do value each of your votes and all of the kind words about my piece. And don't worry, I still intend on releasing my design as part of a new collection I'm working on. Disappointment will not change that.


  1. I am 77 years old, born at the end of the depression and the very beginning of WW II. Yes, there will always be cruelty, war, heartbreaking stories. The difference between now and then is that we just had radio then. Now there is all kinds of media and we are fed all the ugly, scary, fear stories. Stop watching the news and reading the negative press. Read things like your blog, uplifting, happy things. Yes, small things make a huge difference. Keep doing what you are doing, your beautiful art. Beauty and love are all that matter, we have no control over the rest so enjoy those things that truly matter. Thank you for you beautiful art and blog. Enjoy your break.

  2. I like what Leone wrote above. Take time for yourself and immerse your spirit in the world of people, not computers. Go to a festival, fair, farmer's market, pumpkin patch, concert or even the ice cream place and chat with whoever is there. Make soup for your family and friends, sew something for yourself or your cats, watch stars emerge while roasting marshmallows. Re-read an old favorite or find a new author. Taking a media break is a very good idea! Enjoy your break.

  3. Enjoy your vacation Anne. I look forward to catching up with your blog on your return. :)

  4. Your words came at the most perfect time this morning. I was scrolling through images and found a link to one of your artist profiles and then had a peek at your lovely blog.
    I am a Canadian and find that no matter where we are in the world, there is bad news everyday...BUT!...there are beautiful, creative and inspiring people making this world a much more sane place to be. I was discouraged by my last market day and how it had not quite panned out the way I had hoped but I'm always grateful to hear peoples sweet and heartfelt comments on my work. Sometimes thats all you need to keep going! Even though selling pieces of your work is a BIG boost, I have long realized that it is the joy in the MAKING of the piece and being grateful that these hands of mine are able to bring forth the ideas in my head. Once agin, thanks for your timely words this morning! I have been lax in my blogging due to a busy summer and a major move last year but I'm always inspired by beautiful blogs like yours to keep going!

  5. Thank you Anne, for another wonderful post.
    I thank you so much for speaking/writing from your heart.

    Enjoy your break.
    Love, Carla

  6. P.S. I agree with Leone. What lovely words of wisdom.
    I love your blog and LOVE, LOVE your art.
    Love, Carla