Aloha from Waikiki, Hawaii

Aloha! I am in Hawaii this week and wanted to share a few photos from our first couple of days in Honolulu + Waikiki.

0BFEC15A-67D1-4DFF-9DB6-231E2FB91226

First things first, here are a couple of pictures of the famous Waikiki Beach…

9B8866A0-898D-44D5-A76A-406232192381

A7287DE4-DF0F-43C5-B004-642173F2316B

I love that view.

I also love the view of this infinity pool along the beach…

DB281822-9A72-40C4-BCAF-CDF86C207554

Awesome.

We went to a luau on our first night here, and it was so much fun. We went to the Paradise Cove luau and I’d recommend it if you are interested in learning a bit about Pacific Island culture while seeing a good show by talented locals and getting dinner.

We saw hula dancers and a man climb a tree to toss down orchid flowers (He made it look so easy!)

 

Here’s everyone lined up to learn about fishing traditions…

C048AFBB-00DE-49A7-9537-EB3C97CB89C1

We tried our hand at spear throwing…

…admired the plant life…

CA42E308-B918-4F5D-8BED-06BFA5A28987

…and enjoyed the sunset!

606425CC-689B-48A2-9AF9-5E472DBFDBA0

The food has been great so far, too. I have been eating all the fish tacos. Haven’t met any here that I didn’t like!

We also tried this frozen treat, banán a dairy-free soft serve made from local bananas and fruit that tastes a bit like frozen yogurt. Yum.

3ADCD7CE-680E-46D3-A981-2C9A8FBD5566

Now we are up on the north side of Oahu and excited to explore the area up here! I’ll share more photos from here later and in the mean time I’ll be posting over on instagram.

9E04B441-0EEC-417E-A756-883498884364

Have you been to Hawaii? What was your favorite thing to do? 🙂

 

kate

Continue Reading

How to Spend a Day in Cambria, California

Cambria, California is a small, lovely seaside town about 20 minutes north of Morro Bay. It makes a great stop if you are driving between LA and San Francisco, and is close to some cool sites in the central coast area like Hearst Castle, the elephant seals at San Simeon, and the Paso Robles winery region.

DSC_1309

DSC_1411DSC_1403

We started our day with a visit to Moonstone Beach – a great place for a walk, a picnic, or to just enjoy the ocean. We’re visiting in April, so it was pretty windy + still a little chilly… but warm enough for a great walk. There’s a long boardwalk that makes the beach views accessible for everyone.

DSC_1253

DSC_1287

There are also lots of hidden coastal access points off of Highway 1. We stopped at one rocky beach outcrop to explore a bit of the seaside by ourselves…

DSC_1627.jpg

In town, there are so many great restaurants, coffee shops, and boutique shops…

Cambria California

Plus plenty of art galleries to stop in, some antique shops, and a little playhouse connected to the Harmony cafe. We ate at the cafe, and if you are in town check the adjoining J. Buckley Theatre’s schedule for frequent events like live music, local plays, and retro movies…

DSC_1381

Our favorite dish was the sea bass – really fresh!

ACS_0137DSC_1378

We also ate at the Indigo Moon on the other side of Main Street.

DSC_1427

We more or less ordered one of everything and it was all delicious!

DSC_1421

ACS_0136

I love hidden gem places like Cambria! Do you love little seaside towns, too?

 

Kate

 

Continue Reading

New Spring 2018 Botanical Watercolors

Hi there! Hope you are having a great week so far. It has been warm and sunny this week here in Morro Bay, CA and I have been enjoying spending time outside!

You might have seen on instagram lately that I picked up a lot of Winsor and Newton watercolor paint that I bought on eBay a couple of weeks ago. I was excited to try out these watercolors – and I ended up creating a lot of florals!

My favorite might be this flower-heavy horizontal bouquet….

DSC_0979

Or maybe this orchid study. My favorite thing about this orchid painting? The gold shimmering highlight on that flower pot:

I love metallic accents like that.

I also made a couple of coordinated sets of watercolors – I get a lot of requests for matching pieces so I’ve been interested in creating more sets like this. They look great as part of a gallery wall set up!

DSC_0965

DSC_0954

(Peaches always make me think of Georgia!)

Here are a few more photos…

DSC_0991

I had so. much. fun. painting these!

Since I’ve been on a watercolor craze lately – I’ve also been working on a video overview of how to set up a watercolor palette and I’m excited to share that with you guys soon!

These are up in my watercolors shop now.

 

xox

Kate

Continue Reading

Painting the California Coastline – Part 2

I’m back with another update on my California Coastline art collection! In Part 1, I talked about some of the things that happen before any paint gets on the canvas. Here in Part 2, I’ll show some behind-the-scenes process for how I prepare canvases.

California Coastline

In general, I’ll prepare canvases with a couple of rounds of priming and sanding. I’ll do this even for canvases I buy “pre-primed” – because I like to get the texture of the cotton to a smoothness I like. It’s just personal preference.

1 – Priming the Canvas

For me, priming is an important step that helps prepare the canvas for oil paint. I use a white acrylic primer that you can find at most craft or art supplies labeled as gesso. Having the primer as the base for my painting creates a continuous seal over the canvas, preventing my oil paints from being absorbed into the canvas over time. The primer will also help prevent fine cracks in the paint surface as the painting ages.

I use a wide brush like the one of the left to spread my white acrylic primer over an entire canvas (including the edges!) as a first layer.

2 – Sanding the canvas

Once the primer is dry (it doesn’t usually take more than 15 minutes), I’ll sand it gently. For sanding, I use a fine grain sandpaper – either 220 or 420 (maybe both!).

Sand canvases

Sanding the canvas between layers of primer helps me achieve the level of smoothness I want – the more layers of primer/sanding, the less texture when it is time to start the painting. I usually do two layers of primer with sanding after each layer because I like to strike that balance of a relatively smooth surface that also still has some tooth to it to grip my paint.

 

3 – Toning the Canvas

Earth tones are a popular choice for toning canvases – I especially like Raw Sienna or Yellow Ochre. For the ocean scenes I’ve been painting lately, my go-tos have been either Yellow Ochre or Naples Yellow – they give a nice warm feeling to the canvas and compliment my heavy use of blue in the final composition.

Here is an example of a canvas I toned with Naples Yellow from my recent time-lapse video:

Prepare canvases - toning

Preparing the canvases overall is a step I really enjoy – it helps me get in the zone before painting. It also helps me feel more confident – like I’m setting myself up for success by providing a strong foundation.

And a quick update on how the collection is coming along — remember the rough sketches from Part 1 where my ideas usually start? Here is one of those alongside how it ended up translating to the canvas:

I love a good before and after. 🙂

-Kate

Continue Reading

A March Day Trip to Sequoia National Park

Earlier in March, we did a Sequoia National Park Day Trip from Morro Bay, CA. There are lots of cool things to see and do in both Sequoia and the nearby Kings Canyon National Park, but our mission was to see some of the tall sequoias in the National Forest and especially the General Sherman Tree.

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

My number one hot tip for journeying up to Sequoia Forest in March? Check the weather forecast first!

We were definitely caught off-guard to leave Morro Bay in the upper 60 degrees F and find ourselves in Sequoia facing this:

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

And this!

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

All the cloud/snow/fog in that photo is obscuring the mountainside – we were at an elevation of about 6,000 ft here.

We weren’t deterred. We rented some snow chains for our tires and my husband put them on. He is from Minnesota so I figured, he knows what he’s doing!

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

He told me afterwards he had never put snow chains on a car before, but he had put them on a lawn mower. Apparently, in Minnesota they attach snowplows to lawn mowers to clear snow in the winter! Me (from Atlanta) and the man renting the snow chains to us (from California) were both gobsmacked to hear this.

When we made it to the pull off for the trail to the General Sherman tree, the lot was sparsely populated and looked like this:

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

Still not deterred! We made our way to the tree in 6 inches of snow.

Worth it:

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

The General Sherman Tree is the biggest living tree by volume in the world – 275 feet tall, and 36 feet in diameter….

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

It was awe-inspiring to gaze up and take in the size of this tree surrounded by so many tall, beautiful sequoias in the forest.

We made it back down the winding mountain roads safely, turned in our snow chains, and headed on. On our way back we stopped at In-N-Out and chatted the whole way about what an odd but amazing day it had been.

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

This was definitely a unique experience for me and I think I will be retelling the story of our Sequoia National Park day trip for many years!

p.s. – But seriously… did anyone else know that there are places where they put snow chains on lawn mowers?? I learn amazing things all the time.

 

xo

Kate

Continue Reading

Painting the California Coastline – Part 1

ACS_0050

I’m working on an art collection inspired by the Central Coast area of California in and around San Luis Obispo county.  While I’ve been living in Morro Bay for a couple of months, I’ve been especially inspired by the ocean and the colors that form where the sky meets the water on the horizon.

I want to share with you guys the behind-the-scenes process. Part 1 here focuses on some of the things that happen before any paint gets on a canvas.

1 – Finding Inspiration

First things first, some inspiration! It’s where the fun starts. 🙂

An early afternoon by Morro Rock…

DSC_0516

A late afternoon hike near Los Osos, CA…

DSC02676.jpg

Dusk on the first not-rainy day after a stormy week in Morro…

DSC02666.jpg

2 – Sketching Forms and Making Plans

When I’m organizing my thoughts about a place, I like to make some quick and rough sketches to play with relative scale, feel, and overall architecture of places I like. Like these:

 

 

Spending this time translating the world onto the page helps me decide which direction to take the eventual paintings.

3 – Study the colors

Along with the sketches (and before I start any work on the canvas) I like to play with mixing up colors to discover which tones I like, which hue best captures the feeling I’m trying to convey, and how well colors play together. I end up with a lot of splotches like these:

DSC02754

And alongside the color experiments, I’ll do some just-for-fun/warm myself up paintings that focus on how I want the paints to come together and play off each other. For these I will use either some thick paper or inexpensive canvas boards from Michael’s (great for practicing on when you don’t want to waste a whole canvas!).

Here are a couple of examples of fast practice paintings I did to see how my colors might look in a composition:

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 12.37.14 AM.png

(When I work on these color studies, the kinds of questions I ask myself are: does the light seem right? Am I conveying the mood I want? Are the colors balanced?)

Screen Shot 2018-03-27 at 12.38.02 AM

So that’s an overview of starting the painting process! Finding inspiration, sketching out forms and plans, and studying the colors.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about how I am preparing my canvases and I’ll show more of the collection!

And this Thursday, I’ll post a time-lapse of the process for this painting:

DSC02309.jpg

(I just love the clouds in that one.)

Let me know what questions you have in the comments!

 

Kate

 

Continue Reading

Disney Vlog + 3 Tips for Visiting in 2018

Disney tips

As promised, here is the vlog from our Disneyland trip plus 3 tips for visiting Disneyland in 2018!

These are the 3 Disney tips that really helped keep our day fun and efficient:

  1. Disneyland App + MaxPass
  2. Start Fastpasses Early
  3. Rent a storage locker

I talk them through in more detail in the video starting at the 1:53 mark.

Let me know in the comments if these tips work for you or if you have any other Disney advice!

A dream is a wish your heart makes….

xo

Kate

Continue Reading

A #TinyHouse Tour

Happy Thursday friends! We are currently enjoying rural California, and I wanted to do a little tour of our two-week Tiny House AirBnb.

Tiny Homes seem to be getting more and more popular over the past few years (there is even a “Tiny House” filter on AirBnb now!), so I’m excited to see one up close.

Here’s an outside view…

ACS_0039

…and inside….

DSC_0145

Tiny homes, for a lot of people, are a chance to cut clutter, live more simply, and reduce impact on the environment. For others, it is a chance to be more cost efficient, or manage a smaller place in retirement, or to work on an interesting design challenge.

Here is the living room…

Tiny House

…kitchen area complete with a gas oven…

DSC_0158

… and our back to back work station!

image.jpg

If you walk past the kitchen, you’ll past the laundry on your left (across from the bathroom and the stairs to the lofted space) on your way to the bedroom.

Tiny houses are all about creating storage space wherever possible – like the wall to wall closet and overhead shelf space in the bedroom.

And here the lofted space – perfectly kid sized!

DSC_0219

I am really loving being out in the beautiful California countryside – peace and quiet and it gets so very dark at night with sooo many stars.

And sometimes horses come right up outside our windows 🙂

DSC_0127

As the Tiny House movements grows and some people want to live in them full time or keep their Tiny Home on wheels, more and more communities are trying to hammer out details of zoning laws, building permits, and answers to other obstacles for people in those circumstances. For those types of Tiny Homes, it can still be a gray area in lots of places.

If you are interested in more about Tiny Homes, you can search for short term rentals on AirBnb or even look for a Tiny Home rental community.

What do you think? Let’s talk the #TinyHouse movement in the comments!

Kate

Continue Reading

Through the Fiordlands to Milford Sound

In November, my then fiancé and I headed off to New Zealand to get married. It was one of the best trips I’ve taken and I am so thankful we had the opportunity! New Zealand was stunning and I loved every bit of it, but I took so-o-o many photos and so-o-o much footage that it has been taking me awhile to sort through everything. I don’t mind though – going through it reminds me of all the fun memories. : )

So! I wanted to start off with some photos from Milford Sound which we saw on our first day in NZ. I hear it is beautiful in the frequent foggy weather, but it was also amazing on the sunny day we visited…

GOPR2090.00_00_09_02.Still001

To get to Milford Sound, you travel through the Fiordlands on the South Island. We stayed in Queenstown (where we were about to get married!) and made the four hour drive (on the left side of the road!) through beautiful landscapes…

DSC00535DSC00258DSC_7007Every stop and overlook along the drive held another beautiful scene, like this one with mountains in the background and the river calmly flowing….

DSC_6979

Once you reach Milford Sound, there are several great tour boat companies to take you around to explore the fjord. My favorite things to see were the waterfalls…

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 3.57.26 PM.png

After our afternoon exploring the Fiordlands, we headed back to Queenstown and enjoyed the sunset as we drove along.

DSC00447

 

I love New Zealand! I’ll share more photos and video soon.

Continue Reading

Grand Canyon

One of the perks of traveling to Arizona for work so often for a couple years? Trips to the Grand Canyon!

I would drive from Phoenix to Flagstaff, and from Flagstaff to the South Rim of Grand Canyon….

There’s easy walking and hiking along the rim, with the expansive views of the Canyon around you. I like to go a little later around noon to miss the morning rush and watch the sunset.

DSC_8660As the sun goes down, the canyon sinks into shadows a piece at at time over the ridges….

DSC_8693

It’s the kind of place I keep wanting to visit again and again.

Continue Reading