The Bee’s Knees

In the early 1800s the phrase “The Bee’s Knees” meant small and insignificant. In the 1920s the meaning changed and became the phrase for “an outstandingly good person or thing.” My husband has a love for the outdoors and enjoys being in the garden. He thought it would be intriguing for me to paint a giant bee for one of my Spring paintings. He was fascinated with how hard they work at a relentless pace. I often tell him “You are the bee’s knees.” Deciding to research the meaning of the phrase enticed me to paint this subject even more and the title began to evolve. Chris thought it would be very interesting to see the intricate style of my tree paintings used to paint a large insect. 

The title developed from the fact that my husband is an extremely good person who leaves everyone with a smile on their face whenever they speak to him. I then needed to add the element of the bee into the title. The legs of the bee are where they collect pollen, which is said to be the sweetest part of the insect. Chris shows his kindness in every way and is also very sweet so it was easy to intertwine these two ideas into one. “The Bee’s Knees” was finished in March of 2022 just in time for Sprint. I decided to give the painting to my husband and he wanted me to make prints of it so the painting could be shared with the world. The original photograph I took is of the bee landing on the sunflower in a vertical position.  This painting can be viewed either vertical or horizontal. It hangs vertical in our private collection. We hope you enjoy this new painting!

There are also Greeting Cards and Stickers of this painting available. Contact me with any questions you may have via my contact page on the website! Thank you for reading and have a great week!

-Karen Hilliard

Let Your Light Shine

I am pleased to announce I sold my first print of “Let Your Light Shine” yesterday. I am so happy a print of this painting will be hanging in someone’s home bringing them joy. After painting each original, I take several photographs of the piece. Then, I watermark one of the pictures using the GIMP program, and finally put the image on my website. With each moment of the editing and computer process, I think about my hopes of the painting bringing a smile to someone’s face. I am only able to afford prints of some originals so I have to be selective in the paintings I choose to have printed. “Let Your Light Shine” was chosen for many reasons.

The brand new original watercolor was created from 4 different photographs. I started this piece by sketching out my concept of the composition. I created videos, took photographs, and looked at them many times before starting this painting. I used a wet on wet technique for the girl in the sketch and wet on dry for the bees. I decided that the 15” x 20” would be painted with a wet on dry technique using my detailed style of watercolor with Windsor and Newton Professional Watercoulors. There is no pencil work and this was created with paint only directly on to the paper. She took many hours to complete.

The reference person is a dear friend who shines her light on others. I chose to have this painting printed because she is wonderfully kind to everyone she knows and will put a smile on anyone’s face who is around her. The hope of this print is that it will bring happiness, light, and joy into anyone’s home. As for the person, she currently lives in Colorado and is working on building her community while empowering others. She created a website where women share their creativity and businesses. She is a yoga instructor as well. Click here to see her amazing website!

I decided to add a perspective of light from my life into the painting. The bees and sunflowers are references from our garden in Nevada. My husband and I loved watching them pollinate the sunflowers last year. We were always fascinated by what attracted the bees. They often landed on our shiny tea mugs. In the painting, I placed a bee in her hair showing it’s attraction to the glass bead she wears in her dreadlocks. The image of the person is looking down at the bee in pure delight. The Sunflower near her head is meant to represent the sun and is painted lighter and more faded than the bottom flower. I wanted to show the white light and brightness of the sun as well as the subject’s character. 

Let Your Light Shine • Watercolor Print• Watercolor Portraits • Karen Hilliard Art

Prints are available under the prints section on my website. Please contact me if you are interested in buying the original at

-Karen Hilliard

California Coast #’s 3 and 4

I left off on Monday with the second painting in the series. The third tiny painting from the coast is a zoomed in version, or macro, of Number 2. I chose to take the portion of the bottom left and blow it up for an individual painting in this series. I was fascinated by the tiny plant hairs on the rocks in the tidepool portion of the painting and wanted to emphasize their beauty with color. Every brush stroke created tiny hair lines and layered texture. As I painted this, I could almost feel the softness of the algae on the rocks, smell the salt air, and feel the midst of the ocean touching my face. This painting brought me back to many happy times. I was very glad that Number 2 and 3 went to the same home to be enjoyed together for all time.

California Coast Series 1 #3 • Nature Watercolor Painting • Karen Hilliard Art
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Number 4 in the series is a farther away look, or micro, at the ocean and tide pool rocks. This painting is set at a different time of day when the sun is just starting to set and relax in the sky. I love the color in the clouds and tried to bring out the purples along with the blues of the sky. The reflection on the water, with the waves, was interesting to paint. I love that no matter how many times I look at the ocean, the waves always seem to break in different waves. New patterns are created with wind and water. Nature is such a powerful force and I could stare at what is created by the elements for a very long time. 

California Coast Series 1 #4 • Nature Watercolor Painting • Karen Hilliard Art

This series reminded me that I am not just fascinated by rocks and trees, but by the four elements altogether. Wind, Fire, and Water create the formations in the rocks (Earth) and trees that I am so fascinated with. I could stare at the trees blowing, ocean crashing, canyons forming, and fire burning for many hours and feel complete satisfaction. I hope my paintings move my viewers in such ways. My goal is to bring joy, conversation, and happy memories through my artwork. 

-Karen Hilliard