Incidental Art

One of my prized possessions is an old paint rag that belonged to my grandfather Robert Hockenbrough “Hock”. He used it to clean his palette knives (he always painted with palette knives since cleaning brushes was not his bag) and it is framed and holds a place of honor on my mantle.  In a similar way, I have one of my grandmother’s recipe cards, in her handwriting stained with batter, framed in a place of honor in my kitchen.  While they aren’t the banana bread or the actual painting, they are objects that honor the art of the process.  Tools made beautiful over time that represent the love and effort that went into final product.  They are in a way more intimate and more beautiful because they weren’t necessarily meant to be seen but offer a glimpse into the creative process.  Obviously the Art Institute understands because they included one of Van Gogh’s palettes in their Bedroom exhibit, and it also is beautiful incidental art.



Van Gogh’s paint palette



My Grandfather’s paint rag



Grandma B’s banana bread recipe




An afternoon with Vincent…in his bedroom

One of the best things about living so close to Chicago is the Art Institute!  From now until May you can view some of Van Gogh’s work and most importantly 3 versions of his bedroom in his beloved “yellow house”.  It’s truly an excellent way to learn more about the troubled artist’s life and the stories behind some of the images we’ve all come to know, plus view some of his paintings you may not have seen before.

I always come away from an afternoon at the art institute feeling freshly inspired and that is truly worth the price of admission!

van gogh bedroom









Colorado Inspiration

There’s something so inspiring about getting out of your element and your day to day routine. It’s exciting to conquer a personal physical challenge, (climbing the Manitou Springs Incline) and explore a new place.  Add the amazing natural beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the fresh air and warm sun on your back and you return home with a fresh perspective and a new energy.  I’m thinking a return trip involving some plein air painting is in order!

Gotta love Colorado <3










Blast from the past

Here’s a photo of my very first commissioned mural.  My oldest daughter was 3 months old when I was hired to paint this trompe l’oeil garden gate almost 23 years ago.  I never could have imagined all that was to follow, from an actual size trompe l’oeil Chevy Tahoe in a model home garage to a replica of a section of the Sistine Chapel on a foyer ceiling in Wheaton IL, to murals in Libraries, schools, parks, country clubs and model homes all across the country.  As I begin this new facet of my business developing wallpaper murals, it’s fun to look back to where it all began and look forward to what the next 23 years will bring.


mural - Garden Gate