Becoming a Butterfly

The Yellow Butterfly

This yellow butterfly happen to land on my daughter’s finger the week before I prepared for this lesson. How amazing God is.

“How does one become a butterfly?” she asked. “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”

I recently thought about this quote. I was preparing for the Bass Museum’s “Arts and Literacy” final class for the school year. We will be read “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” by Eric Carle. I really love this book.

This week’s theme is “Discover New Things.” For seven weeks, we have discussed the importance of reading and the arts. I will encourage families to continue what they have started and to learn new things during the summer.

Pop up butterfly.

The pop up butterfly with narrative that my grandson did to help me prepare for my class.

The arts and literacy are a powerful combo. Reading a book 20 minutes a day exposes children to 1,000 words in a school year. “The amount of time that children read and are read to predicts whether they will be successful,” according to

The Bass Museum

The Bass Museum of Miami Beach, Florida.

The arts help to develop motor skills, language, inventiveness, decision making, improve academic performance, etc. Children who participate regularly in the arts “are four times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement, to participate in a math and science fair or to win an award for writing an essay or poem than children who do not participate,” states

The President is also promoting the value of reading while honoring educators this week.

First Light

Cape Florida Lighthouse

My painting of Cape Florida Lighthouse copyrighted by Elaine Marie Austin.

After a week of rain, clouds, and thunder, I was excited about this sunny day. I arose at 6 am and traveled south. This painting of Cape Florida Lighthouse captures the emotions I felt.


Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Estero Island.

Fort Myers Beach, Florida on Estero Island.


I read an article that cited where the happiest people in the Unites States live. And as I looked at Florida it was the “other Florida” that got the highest marks.

It seems all the happiest people in the state live in Naples. Surrounded by quiet beaches and estuaries the West Coast of Florida is one of my favorite places to visit.

When I visited Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island last year for an Art Trip I feel in love with the area. Not only is it surrounded by estuaries, it is also a haven for artists. For me it was the best of both worlds.


Fort George Island, Florida

Fort George Island, Florida


Orlando has become the iconic symbol of Florida. Walt Disney World is the number one tourist attraction in Florida with South Beach running a close second.

I love the beaches of South Florida. But my favorite place in Florida is the state’s estuaries. When I am there it is easy for me to imagine what Florida used be like. There’s something calming and quiet about visiting an estuary. The “rivers of grass,”manatees, and egrets make for a peaceful day. Life’s troubles and hurries pale against God’s creation at its best. I often seek out an estuary when looking for a place to paint.

Fort George Island near Jacksonville is my favorite estuary and my favorite place to paint. It’s a place most tourists bypass and that’s fine with me.

The Show Must Go On

The Widening the Cycle exhibit needs sponsors and donors.

This thematic exploration of menstrual cycle and issues related to reproductive justice will be on display June 4-6, 2015 at Suffolk University Law School in Boston. This bold collection features artworks created by artists from 10 countries.


My painting the “Death of Fertility” at Fort George Island, Florida.

My painting Death of Fertility is a part of the June exhibit. Of the 159 submissions only 38 pieces will be on display.

For more information contact, Jen Lewis at

Florida Everglades in the midst of a political storm

plams trees at the Everglades

A chorus of palms trees at the Everglades.

Today is Earth Day. A day set aside to celebrate nature and to participate in volunteer efforts to clean up beaches and other areas. This is also a day to promote an awareness of environmental issues.

the Everglades

A river of grass frames the water at the Everglades.

President Obama visited the Everglades today in Florida to advance his climate change policies, according to news sources.

Florida is no stranger to controversy. On the day that President Bill Clinton and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush stood together hailing the historic Everglades restoration bill the Supreme Court was hearing arguments on whether or not Al Gore or George Bush would be President. Something about hanging chads in Florida voting.

How ironic that instead being a scenic backdrop for alligators, panthers, and egrets the Everglades is now in the forefront of political bickering.

I guess that’s how we celebrate Earth Day in the year 2015.

Monet Art Trip

The Port of Honfleur, France.

The Port of Honfleur, France.

The name Monet conjures up images of France’s country. Monet’s waterlillies are synonymous with Giverny.

Artists get a chance to look over the master’s shoulder and visit Paris, Honfleur, and Giverny with seasoned artist and traveler, Sue Ann Hum.

I went last year and it is well worth the investment. Not only did I get a one woman show as a result of the trip but it changed the way I see color and light.

The trip includes three nights in Paris and six nights in Giverny. In Paris, we toured four museums and were wined and dined by our host, Sue Ann. In Giverny, artists journeyed to the Gardens and painted.

When also visited the wonderful coastal town of Honfleur in the province of Normandy.

The registration deadline is fast approaching. For more details, visit

A Ton of Fun

A day at South Beach.

Trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year through ingestion and entanglement.

Disney’s new movie “Tomorrowland” promises to be a futuristic look ahead. Disney Pixar’s “Wall-e” was a thought-provoking look at the future. It is a satirical and witty look at human indulgence and waste. Two visions of the future.  Yet, I think “Wall-e” is closer to the truth.

When I lived at South Beach,  I saw the impact of human waste and the total disregard for the ocean and wildlife. People would leave dirty diapers, foam plates plastic bags, plastic bottles and all sorts of trash at the beach. Trash in the ocean kills more than one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and turtles each year through ingestion and entanglement, according to Each year, tons of trash are removed by volunteers during coastal clean up days.

When I did my research for my Arts and Literacy class, I was reminded that plastic bottles take over 200 years to decompose and plastic grocery bags take over 20 years.

When I told my seven-year old grandson that plastic bottles take over 200 years to return to the earth, he replied “Wow! That bottle is going to be around a lot longer than you!”  “Wall-e” coming to a beach near you.