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

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