A Journey

“Where do you want to travel to next?” This was a question I asked my husband on our first hike together, which he thought was a date. I ask everyone I meet if they want to go hiking because I love the outdoors. Years later, we decided it could be our first date because we both liked each other instantly and the trail turned into many trails throughout the years. Traveling and being outside is one of our shared loves. The other is the ability to think the same thing at the same time even all these years later. After asking him the question about where to travel, he said “Machu Picchu” and this was the same place I had in mind. Before we planned this trip, we decided to get married and then it became a Honeymoon excursion. Since the altitude is much higher in Peru than here in the desert we needed to prepare our bodies and train.

We thought Mt. Charleston would be the best place to hike every weekend to get our lungs ready for the altitude difference. Cusco, Peru has an elevation of 11,152 feet and Mt. Charleston, Nevada stands at 11,916 feet at its peak. Chris and I were not able to hike all the way to the top before our trip, so we trained on our original trail, and we climbed to about 8,000 feet. Northloop Trailhead has some spots for cars so it is recommended to arrive as early as possible, especially on the weekends like we did. Going as often as we could, we felt we were ready for the trip at this point. In a future blog I will write about where we traveled, the elevation gains, and the need for Oxygen at certain points of the trail while in Peru. For now, I will share the journey we took to South America. 

After hiking Mt. Charleston on the weekends, the next idea was to visit our friends in Ohio and Chicago, then fly out of O’Hare. The tickets were more affordable and we got to stop off at our friend’s farms along the way. We drove to Chicago, to pick up a friend, and then continued on to Ohio to stay at Benham Farms, where the hosts are an amazing couple with oodles of information on techniques, crop development, and grazing rotation. We were also able to venture into Yellow Springs for a walk along the river and a taste of the awesome brews from Yellow Springs Brewery. It is always nice to have a break in the hard work during the middle of the day. Then we got to go back to the farm for a night of gazing at fireflies. Not a bad way to end the day or this blog post.

Thank you for reading and have a happy Monday!

-Karen Hilliard


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

Flash Floods

In regards to my blog “All Weather is Good Weather,” I stated we did not live near hurricanes, tornadoes, fires, earthquakes, etc. Natural disasters seem to skip us here in the desert. Well…recently we had a tropical storm come through from a hurricane off the California Coast. Then, a few days later we had our monsoon season but this time the streets were rivers. Luckily, everything was okay for the people where we live and yet the debris the following week has been interesting. Mud has been piling up everywhere and streets are still tan with dirt from what was left behind. I stand by all weather is good weather because I know how much this rain has helped the desert. Our sunflower patch in the backyard got hammered by hail but the desert, where people do not live, needed this rain.

The ecosystem thrives on the rainy season for all the creatures and plants that live outdoors. They do not have McDonnalds and Starbucks for fancy outings with friends. Their very existence depends on water and food sources that are scarce. So everytime I hear frustrations towards rain, I understand, but I also think about the animals that depend on it. The trees and plants crave their water sources as well. Water is so important for everything and everyone’s existence and we need to keep our fresh waters safe. This is a whole different topic for another time. On to weather again. Forest fires where so many homes are destroyed are unfortunate and terribly sad. These fires do however help the forest floor to rejuvenate, and create new habitats. Luckily humans help the situation by not letting these fires burn too long because that can lead to devastating losses a forest has a hard time coming back from. 

Flash floods come swiftly and then leave behind essential nutrients and sediments animals and ecosystems need. This helps the desert rejuvenate. Yes, there is massive destruction with these natural disasters but it is the Earth’s way of healing itself. If you are ever in a flash flood situation, try to get to the highest point as quickly as possible. Do not mess around and think you will have time to get out. The rains come fast, dump feet of water, flow vigorously, and are intensely scary. Flash floods are beautiful to watch from somewhere safe but please stay clear and don’t try to get a closer look. Respect nature. Have you or anyone you know been affected by a natural disaster? From my personal experience, I have dealt with flash floods and earthquakes. From a secondary perspective I have witnessed forest fires and the devastation of wildfires. Be safe out there and smart.

Have a happy start to your week.

-Karen Hilliard 

Circle Tour

Let’s start this blog off with the first state on the journey, Wisconsin. We had the pleasure of visiting with wonderful people on their farm while in this lovely state. Our first stop on the tour was at Four Mile Farmstead in Washburn, WI. Since this trip, their farm has moved locations and their name has changed to Drifty Acres. (I added their Instagram link into this post, just click on the name of their current farm.) These two wonderful souls took Chris and I on a ferry ride to Madeline Island in Lake Superior. They traveled to this island to sell their wares and afterwards we all enjoyed having a good time by jumping in the lake and cooling off. Hanging out in the main town was quite charming as well. It was a nice relaxing visit to start our vacation.

After we all spent time on the island, we went back to Four Mile Farmstead. There were many chores to do, however, they did them all! They wanted us to just visit and used the opportunity to give themselves a quick break when their chores were through. The animals came first of course! They took us to a tranquil little spot along the river in Washburn where the dogs enjoyed some time in the water. Their two dogs were running around and bounding through the forest while ours was keeping a watchful eye on them. Our dog at the time was very old and in his last year of life. He mostly loved telling people and animals his thoughts on how we all should behave. This trip was very special for the three of us, my husband, myself, and our dog of 15 years. I am forever thankful he had the opportunity to be on this adventure with us. 

After the river, we all walked back to the farm for an evening meal. These are two of the hardest working people I have ever met. At the time, they were working on their own microgreens business, starting a goat herd, and using compost to start their own garden so they could be self-sustainable while both having full time jobs. Their idea of a “break” was still a lot of work for them and very early mornings. She taught me how to milk the goats and the importance of keeping them calm at all times so they don’t step in, or kick the bucket. Disposing of the first couple of squirts of milk as well as it is not good for humans to drink this. Both of these people are very knowledgeable and love helping out anyone who is interested in farming. I highly recommend checking out their Instagram account or Facebook. I also created a series of Tiny Paintings of their farm Four Mile Farmstead and 10% of all profits goes back to the farm. Two more paintings are available for purchase if you would like to help them out with artwork, or you can go to their page directly as they are always having amazing things going on.

I will continue blogging about our trip around the lake. I know you all want to know about Pancake Bay, Canada, from my previous post “Summer.”

Thank you for reading and Happy Monday!

-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

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!  Celebratingthewheeloflife.com

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
CLICK HERE->https://khilliardart.com/product/let-your-light-shine-print/

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

-Karen Hilliard