Living in the Moment

The concept of living in the moment should be an easy one to maintain on a daily basis, yet, it is not. There are so many beautiful events to experience, natural wonders to see, places to explore, and somehow life goes so fast then time slips away. I try to always find time to go outside and play. On days when I am unable to, I go back into my memories through pictures I have taken, sketches I have drawn, or just sit with my mind about what I can remember. For me, life is a constant balance of emotions, reality, and perspective. We all see and feel each experience in a different way and this is why living in the moment can be challenging sometimes. There are facts and history, yet our Interpretations of everything are where things can get wonky. Art has a way of bringing perspective into the light. Everyone can interpret a painting, a writing piece, or a song how they want to for how it fits into their moment.

So live in your moment! If your day is hard, challenging, or fearful, then I hope you find strength. If an experience of sorrow overwhelms you, then I hope you find peace. I wish in all of these moments, everyone can remember how far they have come and how much they can handle. If your day is filled with joy, then I hope you can radiate and spread it to as many others that you come in contact with. My intention with my artwork is to have others view it in whichever moment they are in. I hope each day of looking at one of my paintings brings new ideas or a new perspective to the viewer. With these thoughts in mind, I would love for each of you to find one painting on my website that speaks to you today. However it makes you feel, I hope you’re in your moment! Thank you for reading and have a marvelous Monday.

-Karen Hilliard 

Resolute Protector

Somewhere in the midst off the California coast, a beautiful tree stump sits covered in moss. I became fascinated with this subject while walking around the woods with my family. After many photographs were taken, I came home and started to see different images in the textures of the tree. This title, along with others, popped into my mind as I painted this watercolor. The vision of a forest protector came to me. One in which is resolute in their purpose to protect the trees. Sitting socially among their friends, quiet, unseen almost, and ready to rumble at the first sign of trouble. This painting is a reminder that we are all connected. It is so lovely when I see photographs of human fingerprints and tree rings side by side. Also, branches and our bronchial patterns inside our lungs. Every time I venture into the forest I feel as if I am entering a different world, yet am reminded we are all of this Earth.

Resolute Protector | Karen Hilliard Art | Original Watercolor | Redwoods | Watercolor Painting
Click Here for the Original Watercolor

Resolute Protector” holds many emotions for me and I tried to express them in every detail of this piece. I love the subject and how tree sheddings were collected, then protected by the mighty stump. The beautiful moss surrounding the pine needles gave the dried out old needles a feeling of rebirth into something new. Decomposition at its finest! I also found a lovely little nut or seed, and it turned into an eye of the protector. What do you see when you stare into this painting? Could you look at it forever and still be amazed?

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

-Karen Hilliard

Gorgeous Valley of Fire

Happy Thursday everyone! I realized I did not put a blog out on Monday because I put my Newsletter out and forgot to double write that day. My apologies for all of you who are engaged with my posts. I have been working hard on a series of Redwood pieces that I share with my Newsletter subscribers and simultaneously work on these Valley of Fire Rock Formations. My passion is nature and I’d any of you are following the journey of my paintings or art career, I am sure you know this already. For those of you just reading my blog for the first time, I hope my art encourages you to get outside and look at the world with whimsy. 

Rock Formations of Valley of Fire | Karen Hilliard Art | Tiny Paintings | Original Watercolor

The new Tiny Painting series about the rock formations found at Valley of Fire State Park here in Nevada holds a special place in my heart. This was one of the first places I visited when I moved to the desert and it immediately sparked my creativity. I will forever be fascinated by this place and walk around the park in pure amazement. The colors are breathtaking on any type of day in any weather pattern. In the last blog I introduced the first painting in the series, “Rock Formations of Valley of Fire Series 1 Number 1.” I also have more from previous series still available on my website. Here are a few of them and if you are interested, they are one of a kind. Once you purchase one, you are the only one who will have it!

I love painting small so everyone can enjoy an original of my work if they wish for one. My style is the same in watercolor whether large or small, the larger works differ on the amount of time and mental focus to complete a large painting. My larger pieces from this park have SOLD in previous gallery shows. There are three paintings I have left from years ago that I have not released and will be uploading onto my website later this month in the Smallworks section. They are different sizes and I will be posting updates about them if anyone is interested. Two of them are nature scenes and one is a close up of petroglyphs. For now, I hope you enjoy these Tiny Paintings from a park full of fascination. Have a wonderful Thursday and thank you for reading!

-Karen Hilliard


Two very different sections of the park hold beautiful rock formations filled with various hues. Fire Wave Trail in Valley of Fire State park is one of my favorites. The trail starts and leads the hiker through the desert, around rock cliffs, and opens up on to an amazing trail with striped rocks. The mounds, boulders, and hills leading up to the wave are lovely on their own and I could have spent hours photographing or sketching them. The wildflowers and cacti are endless during spring and the colors illuminate their surroundings. My husband, dog, and I like to run this trail and go over the wave and into the wash. Here is where I found this lovely little nook to sit and marvel at. The rocks were huddled in the small space and reminded me of the gold rush when everyone was hustling to find gold. To me, this is my gold. Rocks and nature speak to me and this painting is titled, “Golden.” I tried to capture the colors of the day in the park with high sun and a little overcast. This blog is titled “Perspective” because my newest painting on the Rock Formations from this park is from a totally different area.

Even with both paintings being from different parts of the park, I really love how they go together. They look wonderful side by side. The second one, and newest one, “Rock Formations of Valley of Fire,” is from the Arches campground site. We were amazed at how many huecos and outcroppings there were in such a small camping area. We had always wanted to camp at Arches but these spots are taken most of the time. We lucked out on this recent trip and found a spot overlapped in time. We had one glorious night through high winds and sunshine. This was our first camping trip with the baby and she used the tent like her personal bounce house having the time of her life. Between her enjoyment, laughter, and smiles, there seemed to be nothing close to this amazing experience. Then, we walked around and found beautiful rocks that she also loved with just as much excitement! I hope this blog finds you well and that you have a lovely weekend. What do you think of these two paintings together? Thank you for reading!

-Karen Hilliard 

Daily Watercolor

The daily watercolor sketchbook sits on a table in my studio screaming my name from its bindings. “What will you paint today,” it calls to me. As I sit in the other room playing with our daughter, getting another tissue out of our dog’s mouth, and thoroughly enjoying myself…I ponder in my mind what shall paint during nap time? Knowing I still have to write my blog from Monday, post a reel on Instagram to stay relevant on social media, and the most important, be ever present in our daughter’s life. Walking in two worlds is hard sometimes and doing daily artwork is even more challenging. The most rewarding experience of all my days is being a mother. Yet, I must transition here back into my art brain for this blog. So here I sit, about to describe my latest sketchbook entry, all the while thinking of what voice to give to her next stuffed animal. As mentioned above, walking in two worlds where the creativity gets highly expanded and melds together.

My recent art project comes from our family trip to Valley of Fire. I drew my husband while we all sat inside a little sandstone cave in the desert. The crawl space was big enough for all three of us and a dog with room to move around, lay down, etc. The colors on this day were unworldly. The orange illuminated my mind with thoughts of a fire burning bright around Christmas time. I chose to emphasize his hat with the color green to represent the evergreen of winter. I thought this would be a nice contrast from the deep orange, red, and bright yellows I was trying to capture from my memory. While working on this piece, I decided to film it on my phone. I just wanted to see the difference from Time Lapse to regular speed. The results were quite enjoyable and I was able to clip several shorter videos for my social media demands which was nice. Finding time to be creative is quite a challenge. This being said, I am always creative, what I mean is…trying to find time to put these creations down on paper is the hard part. Also, there is no time to watermark this little work in progress so…honor system! I hope you all find time today for a little relaxation. Thank you for reading and happy Tuesday!

-Karen Hilliard

Finding Treasures

A sunny day compared to an overcast one changes the colors my eye perceives. Photographs taken under a grey sky illuminates the light areas by sharpening the dark shadows on subjects. Rocks, trees, and people come to life with so much depth and detail. This is my favorite time to take pictures and find treasures. The cool breeze that accompanies a “gloomy” day is also a favorite of mine. I think the word gloom is how others would describe these days. Most people like to cuddle up under blankets and sip tea or coffee while reading a good book. Watching movies with a fire going is also nice. I am one to enjoy all of these things as well, especially after going outside. There is something about nature. It calls me to witness her in all her glory on any day…sunny or gloomy. I abide by the wishes of Mother Earth along with the voice inside my head saying “go outside!” Do any of you have an internal monologue or a hidden whisper motivating you?

The whisper in my mind also sounds like the whisper in the wind or through the trees as the leaves rustle about. Everything flows outside and works off the other. Rocks are carved by wind, rain, any flowing water source. Trees are sculpted as the grow by the same circumstances. I am fascinated by trees, shrubs, and bushes that grow out of tiny cracks with the most limited water source imaginable. This is one of the treasures I love finding while outside. Another is a raven or a family of ravens dancing in the wind. On really high wind days we find them caught in still motion in the wind pockets. We also love to hear the calls of birds and feel the texture of trees. The Juniper is a lovely treasure for us to find as well with their beautiful cones, otherwise known as berries. Our greatest find in the desert is any water source. We love flowing rivers in the once dry wash. Our dog gets the rare treat of drinking fresh mountain water or rainwater. We watch out for spadefoot toads, so as to not hinder their ecosystem, before we let our dog drink. What treasures have you found outside?

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful weekend!

-Karen Hilliard 

Moments in Time

Every time I am out in the desert I feel worlds away from everything and everyone else. The topography continuously changes and causes my mind to wander into my imagination. So many thoughts come flooding in as if a flash flood or monsoon is happening inside my brain. Does this ever happen to you? I get so many thoughts at once and don’t have time to write or sketch them all down. I feel grateful every time I hike to have the opportunity for my life to be filled with wonder. Never expecting what may happen out in nature and always being pleasantly surprised is the best way for me to approach life. This is where I find my greatest inspiration, from the unknown. My favorite days outside are, what other people may describe as, the gloomy days. I love overcast and cool weather. Anytime the weather shifts to drizzle or gray moments, my mind shifts back to my childhood, growing up on the coast of California. This was such an amazing moment in time for me and anytime it rains I am transported into my imagination.

The gray days are perfect weather to enjoy a sip of coffee and break out my sketchbook. I have this wonderful little set of watercolors I found in Germany and it fits in my bag perfectly. When I arrived back in the USA I found the same set on Amazon. Here is the link if anyone is interested. These are my field watercolors, Winsor and Newton Cotman series. I also went to our local Desert Art Supplies and purchased another small blank set which I fill with specific colors and my Winsor and Newton Professional Watercolors. Between these two sets I find a happy place. Anytime I see the sky gets cloudy and I have a free moment, you can find me out in the desert, falling in love with the scenery all over again. I hope to bring this peace into your homes or the homes of your loved ones with my paintings. For now, have a terrific Thursday and I hope you have the chance to get outside!

-Karen Hilliard

“Daisy Way – Meadow”

Somewhere in the heart of England, all the way across the pond from where I live, sits a little girl dreaming about a walk with her mum through a field of daisies. I was asked by a client to create a painting full of daisies and after I finished two commissions for them, I created three larger pieces with a similar composition. Their paintings were unique and part of my Tiny Painting collection. The larger works I chose to paint have a different feel and look about them. I just loved her story so much and wanted to spread the joy around to the world. While envisioning “Daisy Way – Meadow” I was picturing the painting hanging on someone’s wall and wishing to bring light into their home. Wondering how it would be matted and framed, then showcased and displayed. Where in the house would this painting fit and bring the most happiness? I wanted to show, also express, the feel of wonder and kindness. The sunlit corner at the top left has daisies floating off into the distance.

Daisy Way - Meadow | Karen Hilliard Art | Original Watercolor

This one act of floating away enveloped my mind and took me on a whimsical journey of light. I thought about wind and how it just lifts up flowers and plants lightly, in kind ways, and carries them to a new destination. I wondered about where the daisies would land upon finding a new place to reside. The vision came to me when I thought about wishing on dandelions and watching my dreams float in different directions, actually spreading seeds for new wishes for some other passer by. I hope whoever buys a painting from this series feels they can make a wish and I really hope it comes true! If we all believe…anything can happen. Here is “Daisy Way – Meadow” and I wish it brings light into everyone’s life! A sunlit walk among the daisies with a light breeze in the air. Sun kissed faces on a dew drop morning. Wishing you all a peaceful Tuesday and hoping this painting finds a loving home. Thank you all for reading.

-Karen Hilliard

A Walk in the Desert

Lake Mead Wash Series 1 Number 2 | Karen Hilliard Art | Tiny Paintings

A beautiful hike in the middle of the desert, surrounded by mountains, sits humbled in Lake Mead Recreation Area. This trail is known by many tourists as the horse trail and by us as the what will we see today trail. Venturing on the gravel path we find many rock formations, native plants, sadly trash, and beautiful sunrises in the sky. Going further into the desert and off the beaten path to the dirt tails, we find another world of adventure. Sometimes it feels as if we could be in Mars. The solitude out in this trail is amazing and the dog loves exploring the vast opportunities of new trails. Some people use this trail for off reading as well so we are extremely careful where we go. Our dog is leashed anytime we see a horse and rider or a vehicle coming up the paths. We like this trail because we can see dust flying way off on the distance and it is our cue to leash the dog. 

Other than the dust flying, and dog leashing, he runs free to explore. We bring the whip it stick and let the ball fly as he bounds around chasing his favorite thing in the world. We try to constantly stimulate his need to herd objects by using fetch as a placebo. While he runs around and gets tired, I spy subjects I want to paint and take quick photos. After the dog is ready to rest, I can then sit and take out my sketchbook to create the wonders of my mind out on paper. The days out in the desert are magical moments in time for me and have shaped my artwork into something I ised to dream about as a child. I hope you all enjoy walking in nature with us and diving into the mind of an artist. I see so many images while outside and hope you all see more in my work. I hope to share the joy of wonder and add happiness into your homes. Thank you for reading and have a marvelous Monday!

-Karen Hilliard


The feel of the Bristlecone trees sculpted by wind and rain is smooth and cool to the touch. One post did not seem like enough of a story about my love for the trees growing on Mt. Charleston. They are pure joy to my sense of vision and I cannot get enough of them. The hike up North Loop trail could be considered moderate to extreme depending on the weather the day of the hike. Climbing up this mountain in the snow is a bit treacherous and it is important to have the right gear and know the trail very well. Luckily we have an amazing dog who is an excellent trail guide! Also, we have hiked the switchback mountain pass many times. I absolutely love the views up there and this one plateau where we relax before going up the ultra steep parts. On our way up, we stop and smell as many Ponderosa Pines as possible.

These majestic trees smell of Butterscotch if you ever get the chance to take a whiff. I highly recommend it. A dear friend of ours taught us about this on my first hike with her, on this very trail. We later learned about how the color of the bark changes when it is struck by lightning and how orange it can get. These trees are tall and fascinating. They remind me of the redwoods in California or the giant Sequoias, however, not as tall. They are the closest tree I can get to feeling home out here in the desert. This is probably why I like this trail so much, because it feels like home. The smells up the path are out of this world and there is hardly anyone hiking on it when we go. Hoping this post inspires you all to get outside and adventure in your own home towns, cities, countries, etc. We have a beautiful world out there and it is just waiting to be seen. Thank you for reading and have a Happy Weekend! Oh, and another dear friend bought me my first coffee! I will tag her on Facebook. Truly thankful for all of you reading these blogs and following my art journey. Thank you for inspiring me daily!

-Karen Hilliard