2018 Year in Review


Ah, the fresh start of a new year… I know that January 1st is another day just like the last and we are all the same beautiful people that we were on December 31st. However, I do enjoy imbuing the beginning of a calendar year with meaning. For me, it is an opportunity to practice quiet reflection and to remember the importance of a beginner’s mind.

A lot happened in my little studio over the course of a year. I worked on projects that I had planned to and others were surprise adventures! Here are some of the highlights and a look ahead into 2019:

A selection of pieces from my #100mindfulgratitudepaintings series.

A selection of pieces from my #100mindfulgratitudepaintings series.


100 Mindful Gratitude Paintings

Well, more like 42 Mindful Gratitude Paintings in the end... I am choosing to feel good about making a fairly large number of paintings rather than focusing on falling short of the initial goal. When you find an opportunity to practice self compassion you have to take it! Working with the theme of gratitude made each painting extra meaningful before the first paint stroke was even applied. I have so many favorites! A few of these small works on paper are still available for purchase. Each one is $150 - a steal for an original piece of art! Let me know if you would like to see a complete list of available paintings or browse a select few in my online shop.

Detail images of the commissions completed in 2018.

Detail images of the commissions completed in 2018.


The Year of the Commission

2018 was the year of special projects and spectacular clients. I really enjoyed the collaborative nature of the commission process which resulted in pieces I could not have dreamt up alone! I had the chance to imagine myself on a sunny spring picnic in the middle of winter, learned all about the fascinating world of coral reefs, participated in the sweetest and most thoughtful wedding anniversary gift, and channeled my inner child with an illustrated portrait of two joyful, twirling girls. I am planning to limit my commission time for a bit to get moving on some personal work, but I will certainly be open to more of your ideas in the future.

Illustration project for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program.

Illustration project for the Minnesota Department of Agriculture’s Minnesota Grown program.


Local Food Love

Creating a whole bunch of illustrations for the Minnesota Grown 2019 directory was a highlight for sure! I really can’t get enough when it comes to local food (and good food in general) so this was a dream assignment. I am excitedly awaiting a glimpse of the finished project, which should be available soon (!!). You can count on me to share when it is.


Duluth, the gateway to Minnesota’s North Shore.


A Piece of Me on the North Shore!

I was so honored and enthused to begin a partnership with the stunning Joseph Nease Gallery in Duluth, Minnesota. You can find six of my favorite mindful gratitude paintings in their care. As always, I am looking forward to my next trip to the big lake and cannot wait to see what their 2019 exhibition season holds.

Looking Ahead…

Surrender. Slow Down. Compassion. I plan to keep these intentions in the forefront of my mind this year. On a macro level I would like to let go and allow the journey to surprise and delight me. I want to make a habit of pointed focus, doing only one thing at a time (I have started using the Productivity Planner which has already shifted my thinking and attention). I also hope to remember more often than not that we are all human beings filled with light making our way on this journey - to see all of the beautiful people in my life (family, friends, and strangers on the sidewalk alike) with a clear and open mind filled with curiosity and love.

I tried to limit myself to fewer concrete goals as I think I spread my ambitions too thin in 2018. I intend to kick off the year with a bunch of painting. I have an idea for a series involving our human connection to the natural world that has been brewing since July. The last three months of 2018 were dedicated almost completely to Yoga Teacher Training and I am ready to get a paintbrush back in hand. I have a few other project goals and am going to try breaking the year into quarters rather than working on everything at once (back to that pointed focus!).

Other things to look forward to:

I have been invited to teach a two-day workshop Pattern and Decoration in Contemporary Painting at the Peninsula School of Art in Wisconsin’s scenic Door County. If you are interested in studying this topic with me you can find more information here.

At the end of March my husband and I will be road tripping to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I have never traveled to this part of the country and am looking forward to a grand adventure. Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch is at the top of my list of places to explore along with Kakawa Chocolate House. If you have any recommendations for me I would love to hear them!

Finally, along with my continued art practice I hope to begin teaching yoga classes locally in the Twin Cities this year. It feels like a really fulfilling and appropriate complement to the creative work that I already do as well as my passion for mindfulness, the mind-body connection, and education.

What are you working towards this year? Do you practice making intentions or setting goals for the new year or do you prefer a different mindset? Share below or send me a note!

I look forward to sharing in all that these next twelve months bring.

Happy 2019!

xo Maria