Autumn Harvest Watercolor


There are miracles in just about everything.
For example, think of the growing process in which these gourds and pumpkin developed: From a small seed by which itself is useless, but with the right combination, a combination we cannot materialize with our own human hands….sunlight, oxygen, soil, rain, in just the right amounts… not too little, not too much, can produce the most amazing fruits. Those fruits are beneficial to us, to nourish us, and bless us.

I want to view everything around me as a miracle and not take anything for granted. This way of thinking kills the negativity that creeps into one’s mind. When we choose to be thankful, when we choose to think positive thoughts, we choose to have a good day.  And then guess what, somehow the day is good.

These gourds and one pumpkin gave me an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness and blessing, especially because of the company I was in, sitting with a dear friend. I painted with brush in hand and thankfulness in heart.

Rice Lake at Danada Forest Preserves Watercolor Sketch


As the leaves blow by and the air turns slightly cooler, I know it’s a race against time. Autumn is here and it doesn’t like to linger. So I’m trying to get out as much as possible.

Last Saturday I had the chance to go to Danada Woods a forest preserve in DuPage County. Immediately on their map, I saw what is called the “Nature Trail” and knew that’s where I had to go first.

Danada's Nature Trail

The trail is narrow. You must walk one at a time. And that is perfect for contemplative thinking and a deep appreciation for the abundance of nature, inches away from you. It makes you take note of what’s growing around you instead of gabbing with a friend. The first thing I noticed was this solitary mushroom surrounded by a carpet of moist autumn leaves. Notice the fragments of dirt, leaves, and sticks on its cap after it emerged from the ground. Beautiful.

Honeysuckle Bush Berries

The trail was exploding with berries: Jack in the Pulpit, False Solomon’s Seal, Honeysuckle, white baneberry, elderberry, and many others. This honeysuckle bush caught my eye because of the color of its berries (unripe ones look like watermelons up close) and because the berries look as if they have no stems.

White Baneberry - Doll's Eyes Berries TOXIC

Here is White Baneberry, or more commonly known as Doll’s Eyes. NEVER eat these berries as they are toxic. For humans, all parts of this plant are toxic. Even contact with the leaves may cause irritation for some. But for birds, it has no effect. They eat the berries, dispersing seeds in the woods encouraging new growth.

Virginia Creeper on Tree with Lichen

Red Virginia Creeper is striking next to the cool blue color of the Lichen growing on this trunk.

Danada Forest Preserves

Finally after exiting the Nature Trail, I headed toward Rice Lake. This is a wide open trail and the open landscape is stunning. The sun at this time of day was eating away at the clouds creating holes for the sunlight to escape.

Rice Lake - Danada Forest Preserves

Here is where I ended and where I decided to paint…thanks to a nice bench which served as my table. When the sun did emerge, it was a very hot sun. The happy notes of American Goldfinches tweeted above my head as I sat there painting. I am very grateful for this time. I think of it often and it brings me peace.

Mushroom Collection Watercolor


I love painting mushrooms, but not eating them. I think they’re beautiful and fascinating and you can never predict exactly where you will find them. It’s always a surprise.
Here is a collection of some I found in the last month.


Chicken mushroom growing on tree trunk. This monster was huge! If I had to guess, it was 15″x8″.


This could be the early stages of shaggy parasol mushroom? Maybe? Maybe not.


This gang of mushrooms were in my backyard. Perhaps this could be lawn mower mushroom? I’m not sure. If anyone knows the proper terms, please chime in.

Look at the ground while walking and take notice, you may find some forest floor gems.

Rain and a Glimpse of Autumn Sketch


08-28-2016 (Sun)
Rain. Beautiful rain.

Straight down it was…no meandering, no skewing, no divergence, no wind. Tapping on leaves in trees creates a sound as if hundreds are clapping. My spirit is clapping.

I try to hear splashes in the puddles but cannot. The clapping overtakes the moment and I get lost in the mystery of His design.

And a few more leaves change colors.

Bittersweet Nightshade Watercolor Sketch


I found this beautiful weed climbing on a friend’s fence. Beautiful but rather toxic. While not as poisonous as its cousin, Deadly Nightshade, Bittersweet Nightshade should not be consumed.

On this particular vine, the berries were in every stage of color. The berries start green and are most toxic during this state. Next, the berries ripen into an orange color, until they reach their final deep red color.

But what attracts me the most are those purple and yellow flowers….the pre-berry stage. And so it did as a child, attracted me to them. It’s a fond childhood memory of mine, finding these tiny flowers pop all over chain link fences.

In Thessalonians we are reminded to be thankful in all circumstances.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Being that this is a weed, but so beautiful, I can be thankful for weeds. On that thought, what about the things in life that we can’t see a silver lining for? Can we still be thankful then? For example, when you are without something you need or when someone back stabs you…can you still find a reason to be thankful?
Oh, now that’s difficult!  But that’s what we are lovingly instructed to do. Why?

I found myself upset about a personal situation. I thought about it for many hours, how I was unjustly wronged. But in this moment, I had two choices…..

  1. Dwell on it and be upset, causing me to be in a negative mood and affect other areas in my life.
  2. Be thankful for something, ANYTHING in that situation and meditate on positive thoughts.

In reading the New Testament, I am reminded of Christ’s example. While hanging on the Cross he said, “Father, please forgive them, they know not what they do.

How’s that for finding the positive?

While I can’t come close to living like Christ, I can try to follow in His direction. And how good it feels to be set free like that! Even if it doesn’t seem like it…these bizarre life hacks (to find the positive in all situations) are for our own wellness. To give us life and hope.