WIP - Large Succulent Painting

Well hello!

I decided to take a little break from blogging and painting after #the100dayproject.  As I was nearing the end of the project, I began worrying I might not go back to oils and painting the super detailed and blendy way I usually do. Diving into abstracts, working with acrylics, and painting with my fingers was so fast, and so fun. Really, quite freeing. It's how I've always wished that I could paint. So I was a little apprehensive when I picked up my brush to begin a new oil painting few weeks ago. I went in with no preconceived ideas of how it was going to turn out. If it was full of brushstrokes, I'd be okay. If it was super blended, I was fine with that too. I just wanted to paint.

And then I made this:

succulent painting 8x8

I know, right?! This little 8x8 inch painting happened so fast! It took a week from start to finish. I can't get over how amazing it turned out. There are some bits that I didn't blend to death and I love them. I think I might be finally learning to embrace the visible brush strokes!


This is my current work in progress:


I'm clearly not finished drawing/painting succulents. I decided to be a little more adventurous and paint on a 16x20 inch canvas panel. Again, I drew pretty loosely, and figured I can fix the shapes when I go in and start painting.

This is what I lovingly call the "ugly phase"

This is what I lovingly call the "ugly phase"


This is where I'm currently at. I've been painting nearly every evening (thank you #the100dayproject for helping build a painting habit!) The top half is totally done and I'm super happy with it. Now, onto the bottom portion. I can't wait to see how the rest of this one turns out! 



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100 paintings in 100 days - I completed #the100dayproject!

I can’t believe I did it, but I successfully completed the #100dayproject; 100 paintings in 100 days! It seems a little unreal because I didn’t think I would even be able to get through the first two weeks. There were many (many!) days I didn't feel like painting. And there were that many more where I wanted to straight up quit, because I hated what I made. I have to give a BIG shout out to my friends and family who gave me the space and time to create, and who gave me inspirational pep talks whenever I contemplating quitting.

100 paintings in 100 days - #the100dayproject complete

Seeing them all together like this is a little impressive!

100 paintings in 100 days
#the100dayproject 2017 abstract painting

I wish I would have taken notes, or journaled during this process. Truthfully, I didn't think about it. I just painted. But looking back, there are a few lessons that this challenge has taught me.

1. You can’t wait for inspiration, the right mood, your muse, or divine intervention to create. The act of creating begets more creating. It’s so true. You have to just sit down and do it!

2. Don’t judge. Your only job is to make the work.

3. Don’t let other’s opinions (or lack of) deter you. Again, just make the work.

4. Make the time for your art/project. If it's important to you and you really want to do it, you will find a way. Even if you have to get up a little earlier before work in the morning or miss your favorite show, or order take-out a little more often; you can figure out how to make the time. Where there's a will, there's a way.

There it is! The Final Painting for my 100dayproject

And there she is! The last painting of my #the100dayproject for 2017.  I'm SUPER happy to have stuck with this project despite my doubts, insecurities, and occasional laziness.

So now that I've completed that personal challenge, I'm going to work on finishing all the little painting projects I started prior and then get my shops ready for the holidays. Also all my 100day paintings are for sale and will be slowly added to my shop. If you're interested in any of them, feel free to browse them on instagram and send me an message and we'll work out the details.

How did your 100 day project go? What did you learn? Would you do it again? What are you planning next? Are you psyched to do another right away?

I hope your experience was fantastic. And if you're not finished yet, just keep at it! You got this!





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WIP - Creating my Patio Oasis

Hi! I hope you're having a great week so far. It's nearly Memorial Day, do you know what that means? IT'S GARDENING TIME!!!!

I live in a townhouse, and while I appreciate not ever mowing the lawn or shovelling, I am so sad that I only have a tiny patio and a little bit of dirt alongside the house that I can use for garden space. And because I live in a townhouse, there are Rules. I can't plant vegetables. I can't plant any climbing or viney plants, or have any trellises. I'm supposed to let the association know what I want to plant so they can approve it. Ugh. So many rules.

My little patio is my oasis. It brings me so much joy to plan it out, plant, and tend to it. Now that my mom is living with us, it's even more special because it's something we can enjoy together. Nothing beats coming home from work and sipping on coffee or wine while watching the birds in my little oasis.

This planter houses a gorgeous coleus and creeping jenny.

This planter houses a gorgeous coleus and creeping jenny.

garden oasis - shabby chic planter
My herb and succulent garden. This year I have cilantro, basil (not planted yet), creeping rosemary, peppermint, lemon balm and creeping thyme.

My herb and succulent garden. This year I have cilantro, basil (not planted yet), creeping rosemary, peppermint, lemon balm and creeping thyme.

garden oasis - herb collection 2
Persian shields and my new obsession- tiny petunias!

Persian shields and my new obsession- tiny petunias!

This is my newest planter/fountain filled with Caladiums and more tiny petunias.

This is my newest planter/fountain filled with Caladiums and more tiny petunias.

And this is just the beginning. I still have my 6 railing planters to fill. (Guess what I'm doing this weekend?)

I can't wait.

Have you started your garden yet? It's not too late! If you'd like to start, but have no idea how to create a beautiful and thriving container garden for your space, check out this blog post and free pdf checklist.

5 Simple Tips to Create Gorgeous Container Gardens


I hope you have a lovely rest of the week and that you get a chance to hang out in a garden space.




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WIP - Teeny Tiny Succulent Painting

Happy Wednesday! I have the cutest little succulent painting to share with you today. This little one is nearly finished.

Tiny succulent painting by april bern
small succulent painting

Its super tiny-- only 4 inches tall and 2 inches deep.

I don't have any in-progress shots because this one was super quick and super fun. I was totally in the Zone as I worked on her, with coffee as my fuel and Spanish flamenco music as my soundtrack. After I paint the sides she'll be ready to be photographed and added to the shop, alongside some new paintings I've just listed. You'll recognize them as previous WIP stars!

So what new projects are you all working on this week? Let me know in the comments section below.



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WIP - Home and Patio Garden

Happy spring! 
This week, my Work in Progress (and it truly IS a work in progress) is my home and patio garden. This is my most favorite time of year! I get to watch all my little plants awaken from their winter slumber and I get to plot and plan my annuals for my patio oasis. I've learned so much over the past 4 years so that each year, it gets bigger and better.

A couple of years ago I picked up a few grape hyacinths and teeny daffodils from Home Depot to plant alongside the front walkway.  I lost a few of the bulbs to critters, but a few did manage to survive and bloom. This year, the grape hyacinths are out of control (in a good way!)

grape hyacinth
grape hyacinth

I have two little daffodils growing!

teeny tiny daffodil
spring daffodil starting to grow

So for this year, mom and I are going to step up our flora game along the front porch and walkway. For some reason I have completely neglected this part of our outdoor space, so we plan to put a nice little fence alongside the walkway, add some dirt, and plant some perennials. We haven't really decided on what we'd like there yet. Any ideas of a perennial that would do well with full on afternoon sun?

I've also started my herb and veggie planting. There will be bell peppers, spinach, green onion, cilantro, and basil. I still need to make a seed trip to pick up oregano, rosemary, dill, various mints, and whatever other fragrant beauties I will need. And of course some more pots to transfer them in when they grow up a little more.

2017 Herb Garden
2017 Herb Garden

So far we're off to a good start!


If you have any advice or suggestions about plants, flowers, herbs, or anything else, please feel free to comment below.

Get out there and plant and take photos and make art and do what you love and try to make the world prettier!



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WIP - Experimenting with Gouache

Hello and happy Wednesday! This week, I'm playing with my new set of Holbein gouache. I picked up a small set of 12 colors on amazon earlier this year and I've been dabbling with it. If you've never painted with gouache, it's like a cross between watercolor and acrylic paint. It's water based and blendable like watercolor and acrylic. You can use it like watercolor and create washes and the fun watercolor "bloom" effect. You can also let it dry and layer it like acrylic paint, which is something I need to work on (I still have a love/hate relationship with acrylic paint...)

Experimenting with gouache paints

Here's my latest attempt to use gouache and layer.  My biggest challenge is trying to achieve a balance with the water-to-paint ratio. Too much water and the paint is thin and soupy like watercolors (not necessarily a bad thing, but not the effect I wanted.) Not enough water, and the paint doesn't spread well. Anyone have any tips they can offer me?

Looks like I will need to play and experiment a bit more!


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WIP - Two of my favorite things

Happy Wednesday! I decided to combine two of my most favorite things into a painting--coffee (cups) AND succulents. I absolutely adore this painting. I don't have a lot of in progress photos because this painting just happened so quickly. I didn't even sketch it out first. I just...painted. And it happened.

Succulent and Coffee Mug painting by april bern

The canvas is 6"x6" and 1 1/2" deep. It was a beautiful little canvas that I picked up on clearance from Blicks.

step 1- coffee cup and succulent painting
succulent and coffee cup painting
side profile of succulent and coffee cup painting

I love it. Because of this little painting, I was inspired to create a few more coffee cup and succulent paintings. I can't wait to show you those! This tiny painting is definitely going in the shop as soon as I can photograph it properly. Don't worry, I'll keep you posted!


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WIP Wednesday - Trying out Abstract

Happy Work in Progress Wednesday! Wait, it's not a thing yet? Don't worry, it will be soon.

In Between Days - Abstract Art by April Bern

This week, I worked on something completely different. I tried abstract art! I'm so used to painting what I see and from reference photos and I want my paintings to be as close to photo realistic as possible. But I LOVE abstract art. I've always to be more "free" in my paintings. I am a "tight" painter and I tend to blend the heck out of everything (this isn't a bad thing.) I think painting abstractly might be a way to achieve that "freedom" in my painting.

This painting was fun. I had a canvas that I whitewashed with gesso and I thought to myself "Why not? What have I got to lose?" and I plopped a few colors down. I did blend the paint a little bit, but I made sure to leave some brush marks showing.

In Between Days - Abstract Art by April Bern

I put it down and came back to it a few days later and added a little more color, and I added those splotches. The splotches are my favorite part of the painting so far.

In Between Days - Abstract Art by April Bern

I'm not sure if I'm finished or not. That's the problem with abstract paintings, I think. You aren't ever quite sure if it's finished. I could go back and play with it some more, but then I worry about "ruining" it. It's at a good place right now. Who knows, in the future I might think "why not" and play with it again.



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