The month of September is filled with such joy, warmth, and love. The seasons are officially starting to change from Summer to Autumn. Certain parts of the country may notice a change in temperature, colors on the trees may be transitioning, and the excitement of holiday vacations are in the air. Here in the desert we are lucky if the weather starts to cool. Chris often says the temperature does not change until November, but this year, we have felt a slight shift in the heat. We are getting very excited to hike the dog in this new season. After so many rainstorms, the desert will be alive with colors. I cannot wait to go out, take photographs, and share with you all. For now, we are staying safe and indoors. Everytime I wish to travel I remember the dog has a fur coat and it would just be miserable for him.

Recently I have been sharing past experiences and trips with you all. The fall series I created was from a hike taken a few years ago during the Autumn season. Looking through old photographs is quite joyous for me. I often say that I have taken so many reference photos and may not have enough time in my lifetime to paint everything I wish to. However, I am sure going to try and share all my visions with the world. A huge feat this is for sure! The recent sketchbook painting “Autumn is Here” has been one of the more fun projects for me. A lot of energy and time was placed into every centimeter of this painting. I am very happy to have been able to create a print for everyone. I hope people will enjoy having this painting hanging on their wall for years to come. 

Fall in Red Rock Canyon | Karen Hilliard Art | Prints

The tiny painting series was wonderful to paint as well since I love small surface areas. Each of these paintings has brought back so many memories of Fall. So many traditions happen this time of year and I am excited to create some new traditions as well. This season holds my favorite color palette as well. What are some of your traditions or favorite memories this time of year? Is there any food you enjoy or recipes you would want to share? I have been drinking hot chocolates regularly just dreaming of cooler weather. Maybe this is why I feel a drop in the temperature and my husband does not…because I am imagining the chill on my face as I drink hot beverages. I love how certain smells can transcend me to different places! 

I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday and thank you for reading!

-Karen Hilliard


Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year other than Spring. In the early months of the year, flowers bloom all around the United States and fill our views with delightful colors. In the later months, colors illuminate our optic nerve differently. Oranges, browns, reds, and deep hues of fire fill forests with warmth and welcome the cool seasons approaching. Fall is a time of gathering together, warming by a fire, and sipping hot chocolate. Pumpkin patches are in full swing, the holidays are on their way, and families are making plans to gather together. A warm hug surrounds everyone and they just have to open their arms to accept the love. All of these feelings inspired my recent series of paintings from Red Rock Canyon State Park here in Nevada. 

Paintings, Number 1, 2, and 3, have gone off to their new homes and 4-8 have been created. These lovely paintings await a nice home to share the joy of Fall. I am currently working on 9 and 10. This has been a very fun series to create and gives me such joy. I love the feeling that these Tiny Paintings may bring someone else happiness and uplift them. So many of my happiest memories are of this time of year and I try to portray this in my paintings. The months of Fall can be cold and frigid which many people do not prefer; so in these paintings, I try to show the warmth through the black dreary coldness. I want them to represent good times and restore positive memories in their viewers.

Some questions I would ask are:

What are your memories of Fall and Winter? Were they happy or not so fun? What memories do you want to create now that you are older? My answer to the last one is new traditions with my family. I want to keep doing the traditions I had with my family growing up and extend new ideas with new experiences for my little family here in the desert. I would love to find a local pumpkin patch and pick out pumpkins, have hot cocoa, take many photos, and walk around the patch. Laughter, for me, needs to be in every memory. Simple moments have had the most impact on my life and have sparked my imagination in amazing ways. Like the Hay Bale Maze in the television show Gilmore Girls, a simple moment. The whole town was upset about the money spent on the maze and it ended up being a wonderful experience for everyone. Even the character Luke enjoyed it! So that is what I wish for this Fall Season, simple moments. What do you wish for?

Thank you for reading and have a great week!

-Karen Hilliard

Fall in Red Rock Series 1 Number 8 | Tiny Paintings | Newsletter | Karen Hilliard Art | Blog | Tiny Painting | Original Art | Watercolor

Ah Spring…

Spring is a beautiful time of year. The pollinators are hard at work on flowers to get a taste of their nectar. Here in the desert the bees work tirelessly on pollinating the cactus flowers on beaver tails and this leaves behind new opportunities for cactus pears. These are delicious morsels and very colorful to behold. In our garden right outside our kitchen door, we have lovely sunflowers that chase the rays of the sun all day. The bees also pollinate these and the flower goes to seed for the many birds who frequent our backyard. The desert tortoises are also out eating anything they can find and loving the water in the cactus. This is what goes on in our tiny spot on the planet, what blooms where you live?

In other parts of the country roses, wildflowers, and tulips abound. Color is booming and blooming everywhere. Yellow tulips are one of my favorite flowers and I have yet to paint them. I have longed to get a bouquet of them with a variety of colors. Fields of tulips in another country would be an ideal painting situation for me, or a vast area of lavender fields. Where is somewhere you would love to travel to for the pure experience of flowers? I think France would be an ideal place for lavender and Japan for the cherry blossoms on trees. While in Tuscany I had the pleasure of traveling by train and viewing fields of sunflowers. They were everywhere and I was eternally happy. This was in the summertime and may be put in my next blog on Friday. Roses are one of my husband’s favorite flowers. What are some of yours?

Mine would be sunflowers and tulips. Another friend from Barcelona mentioned the exact flowers that bring me joy are the ones that bring them happiness. I wonder how a painting of tulips and sunflowers would look and what I would place as a filler? Do you have any thoughts on this? For now, desert bound, I paint my surroundings. Luckily, I am inspired anywhere I go and wherever my eyes gaze. The pure enjoyment of being an artist and feeling motivation from all of nature is my deepest passion. I feel truly blessed. So, in conclusion, Spring brings so many wonderful feelings to the surface. The color and fragrance alone are amazing and the season also brings new hope with possibilities. Have a happy Wednesday, and thank you for reading!

-Karen Hilliard

Blog 100

Wow, this is my 100th blog. I just want to take a moment to thank all of you for reading these and tell you it means a lot to me. I have received text messages, private messages, emails, and comments on the actual blogs. It is amazing to meet with you all here on my little spot online. For those of you following from the beginning, thank you so much! For those of you recently reading, I am overjoyed to write for you Monday, Wednesday, and Friday every week. Here you will find posts about my artwork, hiking/climbing adventures, camping trips, and so on. This blog is meant to inspire everyone to go for their dreams and believe in the possibilities of life. My artwork will hopefully create new perspectives of the outside world and encourage others to see the world a little differently. 

The newest series in my portfolio has been ink and watercolor Tiny Paintings. These are 4” x 6” paintings created on Mixed Media paper. They can fit into a 5×7 inch frame with a mat opening for a 4×6 inch image. Please mat the artwork before framing so the watercolor does not stick to the glass. This is for those of you who would like to purchase my artwork. The direct link to the Tiny Paintings is here…click here! “Fall in Red Rock” is the newest series and the focus is on contrast of colors. I am using a lot of different variants of warm orange and cool blue hues. I hope you like these pieces. Numbers one, two, and three have sold. Number three was very exciting to create. The intricate details were created with ink and then watercolor was applied after for shadows and texture.

fall in red rock number 3 | Karen Hilliard Art | original watercolor

Each leaf was painted individually and the wash work was done with great intention. I chose a few spots to do a watercolor wash in and then ended up layering over it several times. Basically, the whole entire piece is very detailed. The top right corner is a little bit more loose to give the viewer a little bit of play with their imagination. I like how this painting was of a tree and ended up looking like the desert floor with leaves scattered around twigs, or a root system. This was a truly enjoyable piece to paint and I hope you look forward to the rest of this series. Numbers 4, 5, and 6 are now up on the website for your enjoyment. They can be found in the Small Works link or on my Home Page under Small Works. Thank you for reading 100 blogs and I am happy to continue writing more for all of you. Have a great weekend and stay safe!

-Karen Hilliard

Something to Blog About

Accidently dipping a paintbrush into my hot chocolate, coffee, or tea is an occasional  occurrence. How many of my artist friends out there have this problem? No matter how many times I watch my surroundings or place my mug far away from my paints, it happens. While creating this last painting of the “Fall in Red Rock Series,” I did this many times. On the last day of the painting, while filling in all the final details, I must have dipped my paintbrush into my hot chocolate 20 times at least. Of course, I stopped drinking it after the first one and washed my paint brush every time it happened. The reason I am writing about this is because it was the last cup of hot chocolate and grocery day was still three days away.

Buying groceries has gotten expensive recently due to inflation of product and gas prices. I try to be really conscious of certain items in the house. I have only been drinking hot cocoa instead of coffee and tea. One simple cup a day is a nice treat and helps get me into the mindset of Fall. While painting I love to place myself back into a memory. The painting series I am currently working on is about being outdoors during the Fall season. I am remembering the crisp air of the morning, the cool colors surrounding me, and the smell of leaves on the ground. So you can imagine how sad I was when drinking this magical cup of cocoa was no longer an option. I was able to finish the painting but waited a few days to start the next one. 

Fall in Red Rock | Original Watercolor | Karen Hilliard Art | Tiny Painting | Starting Bid | Auction

I love activating all the senses and making my painting experience just as wonderful as the actual day I took the reference photos. By awakening other senses I am able to tap into a new creative spark and amazing things happen. The paintbrush has a mind of it’s own, then lines, shapes, and details start to form. I created a sketch before this painting series and the Tiny Paintings are all turning out a little different, than not only the photograph, but the sketch itself. I do love this about art. The feeling that I never truly know what I will create until it happens. Living in the moment. Even on a large piece that takes many months to create, each day is a new beginning and takes me into a fresh mindset. What is your process? 

This is titled with my husband’s words after I said, “oh no, I dipped my paintbrush in my hot chocolate again!” His reply was, “That gives you something to blog about.”

Thank you for reading, and happy Monday!

-Karen Hilliard

Fall in Red Rock

The fall colors have always made me smile with warmth and glee. They remind me of many happy childhood memories. Now as an adult I enjoy a cup of coffee with a dash of pumpkin spice and the smell brings me back to the fall. I can be anywhere, in any season, and the smell of nutmeg makes my heart sing. In a previous post titled “Sketchbook” I started writing about the hiking experience in Red Rock Canyon where we found beautiful fall leaves. They covered the ground like a warm blanket on a cold morning. The different colors made us feel as if we were sitting in front of a fireplace drinking hot chocolate. I tried to emphasize all of the emotions of this in my recent sketchbook painting. 

The contrast of light, dark, cool, and warm colors really drew me into a special world. I loved creating this piece and am still working on it. I remember watching our dog find the perfect spot to lay down among the leaves and take a rest after a long hike. We still had a ways to go so we decided to honor his request and let him take a breather. He ended up cuddling in my lap and inspired me to just sit and listen to the quiet calmness all around me. Animals are so amazing in this way, truly appreciating their surroundings. All my senses were alive so I closed my eyes and just enjoyed the moment with him. I did not want to think about painting so we just took some photographs before we left the spot.

This sketch is very special to me because it captures the captivation of the moment. The quiet calm. The much needed break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life back in the city. Red Rock Canyon is a special place for those who want to get away from the fast pace of life. It is nice to even get away from mundane thoughts as the canyon sparks brand new creative ideas. This hike cleans my palette, washes away my brushes, and presents me with a new sheet of blank paper telling me anything is possible. It opens my mind to new opportunities, wondrous images, and relaxing feelings of peace. Getting outside regularly is a must for my family and I. We are very thankful for where we live and our ability to share this world with all of you over the internet. I also added some paintings of the pinecones that covered the ground all around us. Thank you for reading and we hope you have a lovely weekend! 

-Karen Hilliard

Exploring the Desert

The desert is all around us and the canyons are in our backyard. We may have to drive a distance to be in their presence but it is always worth it! My advice today is to always carry toilet paper because you never know when you are going to need it. A doggy bag is also a good idea. Pack it in and pack it out is a very important phrase to remember while hiking out in nature. The desert, although seemingly prickly and fierce, is very fragile and it takes years for certain plants to reproduce. Tread lightly, carry water, and be careful in these harsh surroundings. This being said, let me take you on an adventure! Out into the wilderness we go, through the wash, and then who knows…Are you ready?

When our puppy was a wee little one we took him on a mini backpacking trip. We found a lovely water source for him in the spring runoff coming from the mountains. Taking many breaks to rest his puppy legs, I found some wonderful spots to stop and sketch. The flowers were blooming in patches everywhere we looked and gave the desert an artistic vibe. We felt as if we were walking in a painting. Being a visitor of such an amazing place creates a feeling of awe. Red Rock Canyon really made us feel small compared to the giant canyons before us. Our minds drifted to how we are such a small part of this giant rock we live on floating around in space. Earth is really a vast place and this feeling of it was here before us, will be here after us, was truly humbling. I try to always represent this in my work and emphasize the beauty of whichever place I am in. 

The mountains surrounding us were large and comforting. They kept us shielded from the chilly winds and made us feel as if they were hugging us with their warmth. An immense sensation of protection swept over me as I sat there sketching our dog enjoying his drink from the stream. I also took many photographs and completed some paintings upon arriving home. The painting of the dog in the previous post is from this hike as well. These pictures were taken out in the desert on the backside of the Red Rock Canyon Loop. There is a wonderful hiking area where one can see wild burros romping in the desert and playing with their herd. On this day we did not see any large wildlife. We look forward to many more hikes in the future in this amazing spot. Hope to encourage you all to get outside and look at this big beautiful world with a new perspective! Happy Wednesday.

-Karen Hilliard

The Wash

In the hot summer months the water in the valley dries up and the wash becomes available to walk through. The path is riddled with beautiful sandstone and limestone rocks, pebbles, and boulders. It is an amazing workout on the ankles and legs which helps with dexterity. Balance with oneself and nature is necessary while exploring topography such as this. The heat of the desert settles in and the wash appears vast, hot, and completely sparse of life. There we are, walking, trudging along into the abyss wondering what treasures we will find. I love watching our dog bound endlessly from boulder to boulder like a billy goat on the side of a cliff. He has so much energy and it is nice to watch him in his element exploring every ounce of wonder.

His exercise in the summer months is limited due to the heat so we have to take the dog out hiking in the very early hours of the day. The fall months are a much nicer experience for the three of us and the exploration we love to do. The leaves change color, the wash is dry, and the breeze is cool if not cold. The mountains are starting to get ready for snow so they can supply the wash with water in the spring. The colors in the desert are glorious during the fall. The rocks on the path we trail on are wondrous shades of blue, purple, red, orange, yellow, white, and cream. We love feeling the smoothness of the rock faces whittled down by wind and rain in the wash. Sitting down on a nice surface area and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate or tea is a nice treat for the humans on this journey.

Blue Heeler | Karen Hilliard Art Blog | Red Rock Canyon State Park
I used the Fall colors from the desert for inspiration on this little sketch.

The boundless energy of our dog keeps us entertained and moving forward under any circumstance. Sometimes we end up butt scooting down cliff faces and carrying the dog on our laps or handing him to and fro between one another. He is not a small or light animal but we manage. Through all this, we have a backpack that one of us carries with a sketchbook, watercolors, and a pen. Oftentimes we will find a spot where my husband and dog sit, relax, explore, or do whatever their hearts want to do at that moment. I sit and sketch, paint, or draw. I like to just look, observe, and think about what I see or notice as well. Writing down my thoughts is a must because of the vast beauty and endless ideas in front of me. I enclosed a few pictures of our hike in the wash. More to come!

Thank you for reading and have a happy Monday!

-Karen Hilliard  

Red Rock Canyon

Most of my inspiration for my paintings comes from hiking, climbing, and camping adventures. Red Rock Canyon is a place that holds a special spot in my heart. My husband and I go hiking in this area frequently. We love the sandstone for its rich orange, yellow, red, blue, and purple hues. Each rock face takes us on a trip into our imaginations and we have endless conversations about what we notice. The springs that run through the valley into the wash are breathtaking and when the river runs from the mountain run off it is magical. We see spadefoot toads in their tadpole state all the way to their evolution into mature toads. Beautiful Oak and Pinion trees surround us with their jovial leaves in the Springtime and send us into a colorful wonderland in the Fall.

On a recent exploration we happened upon a wondrous tree shedding its leaves into the wash. The water had since dried up and the rocks were cool from the morning air. A hint of blue color adorned the facade of these rocks in the early light. The leaves were a gorgeous combination of yellow, brown, orange, red, and many variations of these colors. I took many photographs and decided I would paint these images upon arriving at home. We were on a long hike that day and just wanted to keep moving forward to see what else we could find. I was very pleased with the angles I took and confident the photos would turn out well enough to not need to sketch as well. Out of the several photographs taken, I came up with a menagerie of images to use.

The hike through the canyon was amazing and cold. We loved wearing hats and jackets especially after surviving the hot Summer months here in the desert. We brought hot chocolates with us to enjoy and our sweet pup loved romping about. Always, always, always clean up after your pets. PLEASE! The only way to be able to have our furry friends on these hiking experiences is if we all Leave No Trace behind. That side note being mentioned, the dog had a glorious time. I got many awesome pictures of him as well which I will share in future blogs. I hope you all enjoyed walking around the canyon with me and I will be writing more about this place and sharing which hikes we love. I can mention trailheads as well if you would like. Leave me a comment about anything that interests you or a place in Red Rock Canyon you also love.

Thank you for reading! Have a safe and happy weekend friends.

-Karen Hilliard


Sometimes just throwing ideas down on paper is so liberating. When thoughts are circling around in my head I have to get them down or they may leave my mind forever. I have journals for writing, sketchbooks for drawing, and tiny pieces of paper all over the house for whatever pops into my head at the time. These recent sketches I have been posting on social media are from photographs I have taken on several hikes over the years. The current one is from the fall season in Red Rock Canyon State Park, Nevada. 

Karen Hilliard Art Blog

My husband, dog, and I stumbled upon these beautiful rocks and trees in the wash one day. The morning sun lit up the canyon with beautiful hues of cool to warm pigments. Each leaf seemed to have multiple colors running throughout their surface area. It was like looking at time itself in such a small subject. I tried to portray this by using multiple colors in my palette for the atmosphere I was attempting to create. The reference photo is breathtaking and also overwhelming with the amount of color on a 4” x 6” sheet of paper which is such a small space to work from. The sketchbook chosen to execute this painting idea is an 11” x 14” so taking a micro subject and enlarging it into something else entirely.

The painting ended up becoming macro compared to the reference photo. I honed in on the rock face structure and a few of the leaves surrounding it. I wanted to show the texture of the rock, the lichen present, and the leaves laid upon the rock in a whimsical way. I love this piece for the details it allowed me to create and the intricate lines that were formed. Watching the watercolor flow and the ink mold was truly magical. These two mediums used together are becoming favorites of mine. I used the size S from my ink pen set again. I described the pens I use in the blog titled “Reference Photos” when I painted the cactus flowers. If you have any questions, feel free to email me at and I will respond within 24 hours Monday through Friday. Thank you for reading and have a lovely holiday tomorrow if you are in the USA. If you are anywhere else on this beautiful rock, enjoy the day floating in space!

-Karen Hilliard