WIP - The100DayProject. Thoughts about the first week.

It's been 9 days since I started #The100DayProject. It's going well so far (I haven't quit yet!) but it has not been without challenges. Let's talk about the few challenges I observed this week.


Painting fatigue. There were several days this week I didn't want to pick up a brush. I spent the past few weeks painting like crazy every night for another art gallery show (stay tuned for more info on this show) on top of trying to get everything wrapped up for my gallery/market show that opens THIS FRIDAY. It's been quite hectic. But, I persevered and painted one tiny canvas every day.

Perfection. I still have this crazy desire for each and every tiny 3"x3" canvas to be absolutely perfect. Like, full on photo-realism perfect. And if it isn't, I get frustrated and feel like I suck and should just quit. I'm a little ashamed to admit that I tossed one painting out. Oh, and remember, I almost quit after the first painting. As you can see, I still need to work on not judging...

How is your project coming along? Are you running into challenges?


Happy creating!




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Swell Gallery - Return of Spring: 3rd Annual Nature-Themed Artisan Market

I have exciting news! I am one of the many artists featured in the nature themed artisan market at Swell Gallery, in West Dundee, IL. If you're local to the area, I would love to see you.

Return of Spring: 3rd Annual Nature-Themed Artisan Market

Apr 13–29, 2018


There is an artist's reception on Friday, April 13th and the show is on Saturdays and Sundays until April 29th.

I will have a selection of different size matted photos ready for you to take home and pop into a frame and some of my favorite paintings on display and for sale. 

succulent matted print from april bern
gnome matted photgraphy by april bern

These are just a few of the paintings that will be featured as well:

Pilea Painting by april bern
Pickly Pear Original Oil Painting by april bern
succulent trio original painting by april bern
collection of tiny succulent and cacti paintings by april bern

This will be a great opportunity for you to refresh your home/space for spring and to get a jump start on your Mother's Day shopping.

If you are unable to make it out to the show, you can still check out my photo prints and wide variety of original oil and acrylic paintings in my shop: aprilbernphoto.etsy.com


I hope to see you there!



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Hey friends! I want to let you know that I'm participating in #The100DayProject again this year! I'm telling you now so when you come over to my house and the dust bunnies are playing beer pong, the laundry and pizza boxes are piled up to the ceiling, and I leave social engagements early (or not go at all!) to go home and paint, you'll know why. Seriously though. I'm really excited about participating again this year. I learned sooooooo much during last years #The100DayProject. I learned how to show up when I didn't want to. I learned how to move past my own judgement and create. I learned stick-with-it-ness and completed a project even though it was really challenging and hard.

This year I will paint tiny 3"x3" canvas and try my best to complete a painting in a day. I hope this will help me let go of the need to overly work a painting and blend things to death, and to become a little more expressive and purposeful in my brushwork.



Here is my first painting for this project. Is it bad that I already contemplated quitting? I need to draw upon the lessons learned last year, huh? I believe that if I'm resisting and want to quit already, that I most certainly need to stick with this project and see it to completion. I obviously still have lessons I need to learn.

If you want more information about #The100DayProject and how you can participate (spoiler alert! You don't have to be an "artist") check out Elle Luna and her website: https://www.the100dayproject.org/

I'd love it if you followed me and my project and leave me messages of encouragment and cheer me on. You can follow me on instagram where I will post my project every day: https://www.instagram.com/aprilbern. I also have a special hashtag so you can see all of this years pieces in one place: #100teenypaintings

You can find all my paintings from last years project here: #100daysofaprilabstracts


Are you participating this year? Let me know in the comment section below! I'd love to follow you and cheer you on!


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10 Super Cute Ways to DIY Succulent Planters

Spring fever is in full effect over here at my house. I am gathering my seeds and garden tools, eagerly awaiting the moment I can get outside and start planting. Well, It's barely April... I have about a month and a half to go (I hope! I do live in Chicago-land.. anything can happen...)

In the meantime, I'm in full redecorate and DIY mode. I really need to trim and re-pot the succulents and cacti that are still alive. I spent hours and hours scouring the internets and found a ton of super cute DIY tutorials for succulent planters.

Here are my top 10 favorite DIY succulent planters:


1. Easy DIY Tea Cup Planters

2. Succulents in Mason Jars

3. How to Make a Faux Stone Planter

4. Birdcage Succulent Planter

5. Brass Succulent Planter DIY

6. DIY Plastic Animal Planter

7. DIY Succulent Pineapples Planter

8. Simple Berry Basket Succulent Planter

9. DIY Painted Planters with Succulents

10. DIY Hanging Succulent Planter

Don't you just love these? I think the hanging birdcage succulent planter would be perfect for my patio garden, and I'm in love with the toy plastic animal planters. They are so fun! I have a few jade plant cuttings at work and the brass succulent planter would be pretty on my desk. Or maybe I can spray paint it rose gold? Also, the hanging succulent planter is brilliant and I wouldn't have to ask my mom to make a macrame hanger for me. So many ideas!

What do you think? What is your favorite and which DIY succulent planter will you try and make? If you do try this, let me know how it turned out in the comments section below.


If you're looking for even more ways to DIY your flower pots, check out these posts: 

10 MORE Super Cute Ways to DIY your Flower Pots

10 DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas 

10 MORE DIY Flower Pot Painting Ideas.

I'm sure you'll find a new fun and easy DIY that you'll love!




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WIP - Yellow Rose for Mom

Happy first days of Spring. It's been "officially" spring for about a week or so, but someone forgot to tell Mother Nature. It's still COLD! But, the days are getting longer, the sun is shining more, and the earth and trees are waking up and that makes me ridiculously happy.

I've been working on a large 18"x24" painting to give to my mom for Mother's Day.  Shhhhh!!!!! Don't tell her, she doesn't know this is for her yet! Yellow roses are one of her favorite flowers (carnations being her most favorite, just a little FYI there...) and I thought she would love this and it would look really nice in her space.

I'm almost finished. I had to set it down and walk away from it for a while. I have the tendency to overwork a painting and I knew if I kept this on my easel, I would go back in and redo bits of it. Right now, I'm pretty happy with how it's turning out.


I've been working on this painting since the end of January (in between succulent and cactus paintings and my new pilea painting, of course.) and I love how it's turned out.


In retrospect, I really like how the rose was painted here. I dig the messiness of it.


This painting has been such a pleasure to work on! I cannot wait to give to my mom. I hope she loves it!!





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WIP - New pilea plant and succulent paintings

Happy.... March? Really? Well then. I have a lot to share with you. Today though, I would like to share two of my latest works in progress. First is my new Pilea Peperomioides painting. I love this little plant and I can't wait to get my grubby little paws on a real one. In the meantime, painting them will have to suffice. 

This pilea painting is painted in oils on a 6x6 by 1.5 inch canvas.


Next up is, maybe a little unsurprisingly, a succulent. This painting is still very much a work in progress. I just sketched it out and started laying down some colors. The colors aren't right at all and I need to do a little bit of work refining them. But, it's a good start.


I really love that the image is carried over onto all fours sides. It will look fantastic when it's finished and hanging on the wall.


What projects have you been working on? Let me know in the comment section below!

Have a great day!




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WIP - Two brand new cacti paintings

Happy New Year! I hope your 2018 is off to a wonderful start. Mine is going pretty well so far despite already breaking most of my resolutions. There's always next year, right? :)  The one resolution I am keeping, however, is painting. I've been playing with abstract acrylics (you can find a few examples here) and continuing painting my cactus and succulent obsession. Here's my latest project:

Almost finished Cacti paintings

I love how they are coming along! I created a fun little video if you wanted to watch the progress:

WIP - Cactus Painting
cacti painting work in progress
cacti WIP.jpg
Cactus on Yellow Background
Cacti WIP - Cacti on Orange Wall
cacti on orange wall - WIP

This one is almost finished. I have a few more details to add and I need to paint the bottom side of the painting. I'm undecided if I should carry the cacti design onto it, or if I should paint it the orangey-pink wall color. What do you think? The cactus on the yellow background needs a bit more work too, but I love how it turned out so far. I can't wait to work on them some more tonight!

Have a great day!



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2017 Year in Review

Happy (almost) New Year! Like I mentioned in my last post, 2017 wasn't that bad if you didn't watch the news or read twitter. For me personally, it was really quite nice. Nothing catastrophic happened and everyone here is still healthy and happy. There were a lot of really nice highlights and surprises.

Best Nine of 2017

January. The month and thus the year started out rather bleak. We just got over the first holiday season without my grandma, and it was pretty rough for mom and I. That coupled with inauguration left me feeling very helpless and hopeless. And though there were some dark days, I resolved to make more art. I continued to paintshare my photos, and have smallish adventures with mom at the  Mitchell Conservatory in Milwaukee. And that truly is how I felt I spent my year, creating and sharing my art.

February. I went on a strict news diet for a few weeks and I began painting in earnest. I tried my hand at painting something a little different for me-- abstracts.  I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either.  I also decided to combine my two greatest loves-- coffee cups and succulents-- into a series of paintings. There were many many smallish adventures too! I went to the Nicholas Conservatory for the first time to see their orchid show. It was so good, I brought my mom back the next weekend. And of course I went to the Chicago Botanic Garden's orchid show. Twice.

March. More adventures! I went back to the Orchid show for a third time. What can I say? I love orchids and was just so happy to take photos of green and growing things. I continued with creative adventures too.  I picked up a small set of gouache paints and tried them out. I really love how the gouache looks, but I definitely need more practice. I also discovered that am madly in love creating videos with the small clips I had been filming at the garden.

April. Mom adopted a puppy! Her name is Molly and she's a two year old rescue pup. She's a Boston Terrier and Chihuahua mix and she's is totally moms dog. That was definitely the highlight of the month. The rest of the month I felt like I was huddled in my studio painting. I thought it would be a good idea to join the #100dayproject and create an abstract painting every day for 100 days. I wanted to quit after two weeks, but I persevered and kept painting. I start stalking the Botanic garden, looking for smallish signs of spring.

May. Still painted. Every night I came home from work, ate dinner, and went upstairs to the studio to paint. It was totally a routine. We had an adventure in Austin, TX for the weekend and I made extra paintings so I didn't miss a day of posting. Speaking of adventures, a good friend tipped me off to the most amazing spot with lilacs and I just about died from their intoxicating scent and with how amazing they were. Talk about capturing them at their best! And, I finally started my patio garden. Mom and I had an absolute blast shopping for plants, planting, and replanting. The patio garden looked so good. 

JuneStill painted. Mom and I created our very own gnome garden and we spend every day after work (before dinner and painting) outside among the plants and gnomes.

July. I finally completed the #100dayproject! I am happy to say that I did not miss one single day posting. I made 100 small abstract paints and felt super accomplished. I learned a lot from that experience. I thought I would take a break from painting, but i jumped right back in and created two of my most favorite succulent paintings ever.

August. Still painted (real paintings, no longer for the #100dayproject) I think I created a new habit. I found a new paint color and fell head over heels in love with it and began to use it in EVERYTHING I painted. I still went to the garden at least once a week.

September. Big month, full of all sorts of adventures! We celebrated G's birthday, our anniversary, and my birthday all this month. We had our big celebratory adventure in Sedona, AZ this year. Sedona was great except that I was sick for the entire trip. There were also garden and pumpkin adventures when we returned home. Oh, the craziest thing I did was, at G's urging, sign up to sell at a craft show in December!

October. I photographed a first birthday smash cake session at my house so the first week was filled planning, prop shopping and setting up for this super fun photo session.  Two weeks later, I photographed an engagement session at the Garden for one of my best friends. In between, there were adventures with my mom at the Anderson Japanese Garden(link?) in Rockford to witness the changing leaves. I found out I was accepted to TWO crafts shows. Oh yeah, I had applied to one more since September. ;)

November. November was spent fretting... um... I mean, preparing for the craft shows. I had little ready before hand, this being my first time. I spent so much time prepping, making lists, shopping and making more lists. It was a lot of work, and I don't think I saw my husband at all. But the gals who work at the Michael’s by the house know me by name now. 

December. I did two craft shows!!! The first show was in early December and it was good. I learned a lot and then spent the two weeks before the second show painting and preparing and putting those lessons I learned to work. The second show was even better! I was so busy with these craft shows that I didn't have a chance put up my Christmas tree. Christmas came, I spent the holidays with family, and here we are. 2018 is just around the corner! 

Whew! What a year!!


Thank you so much for all of your love and support. Thank you for the comments, the emails, the encouragement. I coudn't have done this without you. I'm looking forward to spending 2018 with you!

Happy New Year!




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