Email to inquire about individual paintings or upcoming classes and events!

Recent Posts

Latest Posts

Why it Takes Me So, So Long to Post New Artwork

Why it Takes Me So, So Long to Post New Artwork

It’s a new year!  Happy 2022. “North County Sky” Pastel on Paper When I began blogging and posting artwork online, I seemed to be able to post easily frequently.  Even as I added websites to my list of marketplaces to sell my work, sitting down and posting the work wouldn’t take more than an hour… read more

Painting through Uncertainty

Painting through Uncertainty

Waking up to what is starting to feel like a real-life replay of Groundhog Day, it can be difficult to feel like doing much other than familiar, easy (and less than productive) activities. “A New Day” Pastel on Paper When the “stay home” orders began rolling out, we took a few days to just relax.  Eventually,… read more

Managing Intention and Process: What's Your Comfort Zone?

Managing Intention and Process: What’s Your Comfort Zone?

Consider each of these painting scenarios: 1. You’ve carefully planned a painting, including colors, composition, technique, and even the meaning behind your work.  You paint as planned, and (for the most part) your painting comes out with all of your intentions realized. 2.  You’ve carefully planned a painting as described in #1, but it comes… read more

Keeping Your Creative Paths Well-Worn

Keeping Your Creative Paths Well-Worn

It’s been a long, dry summer (and fall) until recently in Southern California.  The muted golds and browns of the dead, dry weeds are now beginning to show hints of fresh green sprouts. Although the wet weather and change in color is a welcome sight, I know from my many years here in Fallbrook that… read more

About That Time I Took a Wildlife Painting Class...

About That Time I Took a Wildlife Painting Class…

Along the journey of  developing a style of painting, one of the most interesting classes I took was called “Wildlife Painting.”  Although we only made two actual paintings (one of which had no wildlife in it), I learned a lot of new (well, new to me!) things in that class. One of the first things… read more

Dancing Trees

Dancing Trees

In need of a little inspiration?  Try a dose of trees! Whenever we make a trip to Live Oak Park in Fallbrook, I end up taking more pictures of trees than of my kids.  Even when I am not feeling particularly inspired to paint, there is always something attractive about trees.  Their shapes are unique,… read more

August 2018 Newsletter: A Great Way to Beat the Summer Doldrums

It’s summer…again.  Every year it seems to get here quicker and drag on longer—although I admit that it may have something to do with fall in Southern California basically being a sequel to summer.  If it were a movie, it might be called Summer Part 2: Fire and Wind!     Is it Halloween yet? “The… read more

What I Learned From Painting the Same Bird Almost 10 Times

A few years ago, I painted a Sandpiper with pastel and brushed it with water for a soft, calming effect.  It was one of those times where I used art to ease my anxiety– I painted the bird during a summer thunderstorm.  Thunderstorms in cool weather don’t bother me, but the ones we occasionally get… read more

An Artist’s Guide to Cataract Surgery

I don’t really have a bucket list, but if I did, cataract surgery would not have been on that list! “His Own Path” pastel on paper    It started with  cloudy vision in the lower half of one eye–which quickly progressed to the whole eye.  I went in, had my eyes dilated for the first time… read more

Overwintering (Newsletter March 2018)

Do you go dormant in the winter? “Bit of Moonlight” 3 x 5 inch pastel on paper   I’ve written before about having developed a gardening habit– and that it’s something I struggle to do successfully.  Having had so much rain last year, I was looking forward to a “normal” winter this year, with slightly… read more

Welcome Art Friends!

Welcome!  Please feel free to browse my blog posts, check out new work, or sift through my galleries to find something that connects with you.   If you are inquiring about workshops, paint-sips/coffee-paints, or private lessons, please email me at   I am also available for in-home art instruction for kids and teens (great… read more

A Cure for the Mid-Summer Blues (Newsletter 7/30/16)

Well, we’ve hit the sticky middle of summer with a vengeance this year in Southern California!  Ordinarily the early sunrises would inspire me to wake up and get some painting done in the mornings, but I have children who seem to pop out of bed the minute the sun is out.  So, painting time gets… read more

Another Month, Another Creative Mess!

Newsletter 5/14/16   What are your creative rituals?  Do you exercise, or put on music before you work?  What about when the work is finished?  How do you process what you’ve completed?   Back when I painted on more of a schedule, my artwork piled up quickly in the kitchen.  I developed sort of a… read more

Rattlesnakes and Late-Night Potato Pancakes

Newsletter 3/31 What do rattlesnakes and potato pancakes have in common?  Well, according to some people, both are edible—but I’ve been vegetarian for 25 years now, so I won’t be eating rattlesnake any time soon! I’ve had a couple of hard life lessons in the last week.  I promise you, a connection to art will… read more

Peaceful Inspiration

Newsletter 10/8/15   Even on a crowded day at the beach, I find the ocean peaceful.  “Peace and Quiet” 9 x 12 Pastel on Paper    At a popular hotel, the koi pond is another source of inspiration.    “Kabuki Koi Pond” 14 x 18 Pastel on Flat Canvas    Do you find yourself looking… read more

Is it bad for your art to match the couch?

Newsletter 7/18/15    About that whole “art matching the couch” thing: I don’t think it’s bad if people buy art to match the couch.   “Sprig” 9 x 12 Pastel on paper    I once was introduced by a friend-of-a-friend at a festival, who happened to enjoy painting in his spare time.  When I asked… read more

Newsletter from 5/28: Failing with Flying Colors

I write a lot about failure and rejection.  I don’t do it to intentionally bring down anybody’s mood; instead, I want to share how integral failure and rejection are to the artistic– and human– experience as a whole.   “The Bookeeper” 5.5 x 8 inch pastel on drawing paper Available on Daily Paintworks    Rejection… read more

Painting is Like No Other Activity

Newsletter 03/19/2015   “The Road to Reno” pastel on flat canvas Details  In a world flush with the constant stream of chatter, news, likes and downvotes, it often seems there are few opportunities for doing something both quiet and productive.  Artists have a unique opportunity to submerge themselves in an activity that directly involves their… read more

Five Benefits to Using Pastel

If you’re new to pastels, or haven’t tried them yet, here are a few things I love about using soft pastels.     “Bitter Harvest” (Painted on orange-toned paper)   1) Colorfastness   Pastels come in a wide array of colors, most of them wonderfully vivid!  Using pastel on an appropriate surface (any sort of textured… read more

Creating a Variety of Textures with Pastel

The versatility of pastel: creating works with unique textures    “Tropical Night” 17 x 21 Mixed Media on Paper Click here to view details    One of my favorite things about pastel is its versatility.  If I feel like following a time-tested, traditional method of using pastel, I can take out some textured paper and… read more

Winged Inspiration

Painting butterflies: why are they so appealing to artists?                          “Fleeting” 4 x 5.5 Pastel on Paper                       “Perched” 4.5 x 5.5 Pastel on Paper Purchase or View Large           … read more

Wind in My Bones

Oceanside Days of Art: A Gloriously Windy Event   My booth at the art fair April 26th-27th, a pastel demo (koi pond) I think I came up with my epitaph after this event! I don’t envision myself having a tombstone when I’m gone, but if I were to have one, I’d like the following quote… read more

Creating Art and Exercising

Creating art and exercising…what’s the connection? Creating art shares many similarities with exercising.  It can serve as a mood lifter, a mental booster, and a physical outlet for energy.  As with exercise, you can start out tired, but get warmed up and enjoy yourself by the end of a painting session.  There’s probably a time… read more

How Life Influences Artistic Choices

Whether you appreciate or create art (or both), there are many factors that influence your artistic taste and style. Childhood memories, places you’ve visited, emotions you feel in response to events are examples of what might influence your taste in art. Growing up in Southern California has given me a strong connection to light. This… read more

Harvesting Color and Mood

It’s funny how color has such a strong impact on the mood of a painting. “Bitter Harvest” 6 x 9 Pastel on paper Click here to view large or see purchase details   Fall is normally a happy time for me: the weather is cooler and the local scenery comes to life with blazing complementary colors. … read more

Who Qualifies as an Art Lover?

The term “art lover” pops up a lot in art marketing.  What does it mean to be an art lover?   “Beach Stroll” 9 x 12 Pastel on Paper Click here to view details   When I hear the phrase “art lover,” I tend to visualize people with a glass of wine in their hands trying… read more

Determination: More Important than Talent

I once had to swallow a laugh when I heard my mom make the following comment to someone:   “It if’s not easy, it’s not meant to be.”   This was from a woman who got her commercial license to drive trucks cross-country at age 48.  If she truly believed what she said that day,… read more

Why Impressionism?

What is it about impressionism that draws so many people to it?  What motivates artists who paint in the impressionist style? “Bowing Oak” 9 x 12 Chalk pastel on flat canvas Click here to view large or purchase   Impressionism was my first love as a young artist.  I had no desire to look at… read more

Pricing and Policy Guide

How do I price my artwork?  Use this handy guide to navigate my pricing and policies. “Old Temecula Field” Click here to view large or purchase   Whether I’m selling my work at a festival, online, or through a show, there is consistency in pricing, which I base on what I think of as my “supply pyramid.”  … read more

My Art is Definitely Accessible

There are some in the art world who don’t think artists should share their secrets.    They think artists should be mysterious, and if you don’t “get” their work, that’s just your misfortune.  Supposedly, you’re supposed to go out and find your little group of people who do get your work and stick with your… read more

Using Darks to Bring Out Your Lights

In my latest art blog post, I have some examples of different stages of painting with pastels, showing the importance of using dark tones in your underpainting if you want to bring out those bright pastel lights.  This works especially well if you are blending your pastels with water or using fixative to preserve your… read more

More Pastels with Water and Impressionist Trees

This time, I decided to play around with dipping my chalk pastels in water and then putting them on flat canvas:   “Afternoon in the Park” 9 x 12 Chalk pastel on canvas Click here to view purchase details   Using the wet chalk directly on the canvas had a nice loose effect, giving an… read more

A Unique Way to use Pastel

Want to see more art?  View my current ebay listings.   There’s a lot you can do with pastel: use it dry on paper, scratch it over some acrylic or watercolor, or even blend it with water.       “Oorah” 9 x 12 Chalk pastel on flat canvas Click here to view purchase details   Sometimes I like to take… read more

Local Perspiration…

A hot day at Balboa Park in San Diego, California led to some nice photos of the lilypond outside the Botanical Gardens.  After a great deal of perspiration, the photo led to a complete pastel:   “Balboa Water Lilies” Click here to view purchase details     There’s so much to Balboa Park, it’s often… read more

The Right Reason to Buy Art

“Butterfly Jungle” 9 x 12 Chalk Pastel on Paper Click here to view purchase details    There hasn’t been much time for me to paint since having baby number two last month, but there has been some time to mull over why I wanted to get back to painting and what it means to create and… read more

Finally, Some Fall Weather!

The weather has finally cooled!  This latest piece, titled “Herbst,” was inspired by the wonderful feeling of a cool, sunlit afternoon in Fallbrook.  “Herbst” is the German word for fall, and seemed to fit the piece.     “Herbst” 9 x 12 Chalk pastel on paper Click here to view purchase details   We may… read more

Too Hot for Blue…

It’s the last day of September, and the forecast for our area is 100 degrees tomorrow.  On the occasional cool day, I’ve been working on an acrylic painting in small spurts.  In between those sessions, I did a little playing with color:                 “Cat Pose 1”                                                                                   “Cat Pose 2” Click here to view Etsy listing                                 Click here… read more

Me, A Messy Artist? Definitely!

Sometimes, a little mess is best… I’ve grown up with the notion that good artists make big messes.  They just have to clean up after themselves when done.  What about for those pieces that don’t quite feel finished, but just need a few small changes and touches?    In my latest blog post, I decided to share how I’ve been adapting my… read more

Summer Colors and Shapes

We’re coming to the end of summer, and I wanted to share a couple of pieces inspired by our many trips to the beach.  The above piece, “Harbor Alley,” was an experiment in acrylic and chalk, with many layers added for extra texture.   I also did a little pastel of my daughter, based on… read more


  This latest piece,  “Pangaea,” started off with great promise and then ended up in the fail pile, only to be rescued this week.   It’s nice when a painting flies through the process, going from inspiration to finish in a creative fury.  Unfortunately, life happens, and some pieces get stuck in limbo for a while. … read more

Turtles and Baby Steps

  “How ’bout a Hug” 9 x 12 Chalk pastel on paper $40  Purchase Original    These cute turtles got me through a rough week.  Having trouble finishing a painting?  Read my latest blog post to get a little encouragement in the right direction.   Don’t forget, shipping is free through summer!

Summer Shipping Special, and Artist’s Inspiration

“View from the Jetty” Original $60 Click here to view listing   Summer Shipping Special!   To celebrate my new Foliotwist website, shipping on any item purchased through Fine Art by Niki Hilsabeck is free!  Latest Blog Post: Water, Water Everywhere! What inspires artists to create?  Looking through my work, I’ve realized that much of the time it’s water. … read more

Latest work posted

  My latest piece, “Evening,” is available for sale!  Please visit my blog to read about how I created this piece or see additional works for sale.    Click here to view purchase information for this piece.

Welcome to my website!

To view my most recent blog posts and read about how I create the pieces you see here, visit my blog: Art by Niki Hilsabeck