Finding Inspiration and Delighting in Blue Roses

Hello, sweet friends, Happy Friday!

I took the day off yesterday because it was my birthday. With Matthias and I both working on developing and growing our businesses, we don't take a lot of time off. It's been ages since we've taken any trips or done something new. I'm pretty much a homebody, but even homebodies need to get out once in a while.

Yesterday we took a day trip to Winona, Minnesota. According to Google it's about an hour and 20 minutes from where we live in Wisconsin. The drive is beautiful. First the hills and valleys from Viroqua to La Crosse and then the bluffs along the Mississippi River. Breathtaking, really.

I'd driven by Winona, but never explored it. The main draw for me, something that has been on my fun to-do list for a while, was the Minnesota Marine Art Museum.

Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, Minnesota, inspiration, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

(I really want to go back in the summer and see their beautiful gardens in full bloom!).

I can't even begin to tell you how much I needed a visit to an art museum. 

It's been years since I've visited one. The name, I think, is a little misleading. It makes you think that the whole museum is just about water, and yes, the permanent collection and the changing exhibits do often have water as a theme, but the museum isn't only marine art. Also, I think a lot of people, myself included, would never guess at the fabulous collection a little Minnesota town's art museum would have. It was astounding (take a look and see for yourself).

If you're near enough to visit, I'd highly recommend it!

I did not take many photos. I was too busy just experiencing the day, but I did want to remember a couple of the pieces (only limited photography was allowed within the museum).

One of the special exhibits was a retrospective of Minnesota-based, folk artist duo Leo and Marilyn Smith. I was so engaged by the whimsical nature of their art, the color and the stories behind the pieces. One of my favorites was "Night Bear", a sculpture inspired by a dream.

Leo and Marilyn Smith, Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Night Bear

His harlequin costume, his wings and his stance above the dreamer, tucked lovingly in bed, all spoke to me.

Seeing the art and reading about the artists' inspirations and influences was so inspiring (in this exhibit and all the others). Being an artist working alone in my studio (although I do love it), I can feel a bit isolated.

I find inspiration in books and on the internet (and of course, in nature), but there's no comparison to the inspiration from seeing art in person.

Another piece that spoke to me was from the exhibit of Mary Solberg's Water Portraits:

Minnesota Marine Art Museum, Winona, Mary Solberg, Water Portraits, Perfect Form

"Perfect Form" is a triptych that dispels the myth that you have to have a certain body type to be an athlete. You can read Mary's thoughts behind the piece here. It's very moving. To me, the middle figure seems so joyful with her skirted bathing suit and her in-dive pose. And the whole idea of breaking down stereotypes and throwing out labels also resonates with me, not just in the arena of sports, but for all of life.

The whole day was such fun, from the drive to museum visits to a sushi lunch, and just spending time with my family, too. Today I'm still feeling the glow. It's a good reminder to take time for things that fill my creative well.

It's all too easy to keep doing the same things and not make time for new experiences. Sometimes we need to shake things up! 

I'm going to try to be better about making sure I prioritize adventuring.

This may sound silly, but I think that in order to make it happen, I need to get things on my calendar. Writing down deadlines and assignments on my calendar has been invaluable to holding me accountable and allowing me to get things accomplished. Yes, sometimes I have to juggle things around a bit, but having it written down in plain sight helps me to keep from forgetting about it.

calendar, planning, organization, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

All too easy if I just try to keep it in my head.

I guess I'm old fashioned. I like to write things down. Writing things down as part of a gratitude practice is helpful, too.

That's why I created these new Gratitude and Joy Lists as a gift for my Joy Letter subscribers.

gratitude practice, Joy Lists, free gift, free download, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I sent them out yesterday (if you're subscribed but you didn't get yours, please let me know and I'll send you a link to where you can download them).

You might recognize the blue roses from the peeks I gave you of a recent project last week. Yesterday I revealed the finished design:

fabric design, Spoonflower, Watercolor Rose Garden in Blue, monochromatic watercolor, botanical watercolor, blue roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

My goal was to get it finished in time to enter in Spoonflower's Monochrome Design Challenge, and I did! Voting is going on now and I would love to have your vote

As with all Spoonflower challenges, you can vote on as many designs as you'd like (I voted on 12!). I apologize that voting on this challenge is a little tiring; there are 755 designs! Whew! I think that's the most I've seen in a challenge (the last time I participated there were 289!).

Thank you for being here. It means a lot to have your encouragement, inspiration and support. I hope that you can find some time this weekend to have a little adventure and fill your creative well.

Gloxinia, houseplants, blooming plants, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry


  1. I love the night bear standing over the dreamer. If I have trouble sleeping I will envisage a big harlequin patterned bear watching protectively over me! The triptych 'perfect form' stands out to me also. The diver in the middle has such graceful mid air poise. I think I am ready for a cultural day out after looking at this post Anne! I am a big fan of writing things down and it does help to keep me on track. Congratulations on completing the Monochrome design Challenge. I have voted for you - your design is delicate and beautiful. :)

    1. I'm glad you like the bear, too, Simone. When I was a child I had a nightmare where I was in a house filled with monsters. In it I was rescued by a flock of geese who came through the chimney and flew me away. Instead of waking up frightened by the nightmare, I woke up calm and safe, with the feeling their soft feathers against my cheek. This bear reminds me of that dream. I'd definitely want him protecting me!

      I hope you have your cultural day out (maybe today to celebrate your birthday?)! and that it fills you with inspiration.

      Thanks so much for your vote on my fabric design! I truly appreciate your support!

  2. Happy belated Birthday Anne!!
    What a lovely day you have had!! Full of inspiration!!
    I am already curious to see what it will inspire you to create.
    Good luck with the challenge!!!

    1. Thank you, Laura! It was a lovely day. :)

      It's funny how inspiration works and grows in the background.

      I appreciate your encouragement.

  3. Happy Birthday Anne,
    What a beautiful photo of you.
    Thank you for the travel tip. :-)
    I am off to vote for you.
    xx oo

    1. Thanks so much, Carla. Winona wouldn't be too far for you to travel. It looks like there are lots of things to do there in the summertime. I hope you get a chance to visit. :)

      Thank you for your vote!

      Happy spring to you!

  4. Between your mom's post and yours I feel like I've been to the museum! Thank you so much for sharing. It looks like a really fabulous place. xo


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