“Monarch Migration” Painting Story and Process Photos

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.

monarch migration_web
“Monarch Migration”
15X30  mixed media on canvas

The farm I grew up on is in the heart of the prairie in Kansas. It is a 30 minute drive on dusty dirt roads to the nearest civilization. My parents apple orchard is surrounded by 180 acres of native prairie and forests. Their driveway is over a mile long – and because the county maintenance trucks won’t maintain driveways, it was usually in pretty rough shape – horribly muddy in the spring, treacherously icy in the winter, and full of sand pits in the summer. Our mailbox was at the end of the driveway and a daily ritual was to walk and get the mail.

On this particular day in September, when I was probably about 8 years old, I remember turning the corner at the mailbox and feeling like something was different. There was a quivering energy to the air. I looked up and noticed hundreds of monarchs in the sky above me. And then, as I looked closer at the trees lining the roadway, I gasped, because what I had first thought were leaves fluttering in the wind were actually wings. Thousands and thousands of wings. I had happened upon the migration of monarchs.

I’m not sure why the butterflies ended up in KS that year. It’s out of their normal migratory path. After I left home, my parents had them come through one other year. But I have never seen them again.

We are losing monarchs. There are less and less every year. Their main source of food, the milkweed plant is being displaced by fields and housing and mowers. The older I get, the more I am becoming aware of how fleeting everything around us is. How delicate the beauty of these tiny wings. How necessary it is to pause and notice the flutters hidden in the branches.

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Why you must come to the Indie Art Greeley Winter Market

Forgive me for getting a little local-greeley-centric for a moment. But, at the end of this month, on small business Saturday, is my favorite local art event of the year; Indie Art Greeley’s Winter Market. This year there will be 35 artists showcasing their wares – many of whom are my closest friends. Giving and buying at this time of year can be hard. A beautiful season and holiday can sometimes get overwhelmed by consumerism. I think that is why I love the Indie Arts Market – I know firsthand the love and craftsmanship that goes into the gifts I buy there.

Here is the info for this year’s market. I love getting to design the posters for this event and am thrilled about how this years turned out!

Indie Arts Greeley Poster
The market this year is being held in the lovely Atlas Theater – which is doubly great because you can enjoy artisan coffee drinks made at John Galt Coffee Co. all day long.

Here is just a quick sampling of some of the goods that will be for sale from some of the artists/makers:
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This year BOTH Tim and I will have booths. Tim will be selling his hand-crafted beard-oils, colognes, and after shave. Which, as a wife I can say truly I am OBSESSED. My husband smells AMAZING. I mean really good. He is taken, sorry ladies. Truly, Tim has a highly discerning nose and has crafted some mighty complex and delightful smells inspired by the era of his grandfather. He can’t wait to share them with you.



You might not know this about me, because I love making paintings. But I also LOVE getting a little crafty. Art markets give me the opportunity to play and create small batches of goods.  This year, creative batch of goods will feature black & white illustrated pillows, handmade marbled kraft wrapping paper, sparkle star wands, and large wall art calendars. Excited yet? I am!!
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I will also, for the first time, have ALL of the becoming series art prints available.
Coming Down From the Mountain_web On Becoming Rooted_web Waking Up_web3 prints and album special

And if those are not reason enough to come, my little aspiring artist, Lucy, will be joining my table again with her painted sunshine and butterfly pictures.
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Story behind the painting “On Becoming and Artist”

Over the course of this month, we will be sharing some of the stories behind the paintings and songs in the Becoming series.
You can purchase prints of this piece here.
And, you can listen to the song, Eventually, here.

24X18 mixed media on canvas
Companion Song: Eventually
I grew up in a very artistic family. My mother is an amazing artist and she dedicated many hours of our homeschooling to magical projects with artistic bents. But I never considered myself an artist. My older sister was always the one who could draw elaborate characters and scenes from her head. I was the kid that was good at math and science. It wasn’t until H.S. – when my sister went off to private ballet school in Canada – and I took my first structured art classes, that I even considered that I was good at art as well.

Little River H.S. is a tiny rural school in Kansas only accessible by dirt country roads. There were 32 kids in my graduating class. The year below me had 12. Beth Myers is the art teacher there and she has this amazing little “attic” art department that smells like wax and sunshine. It is the only room on the second story and had a door to the rooftop. She let me set up my own work table under a window in the corner where I could leave my scattered in-progress works out. It was this glorious little world all in its own. It was the first time I started to see my self as an artist separate from my sister.

In college, I was majoring in the sciences – computer programing and biology (believe it or not), but would still take art classes for fun. The art rooms were always where I wanted to be. Walking in felt like home. I was working several jobs – scooping ice cream and delivering papers and I hated it. But I was teaching little art workshops for my friends. Then, in the classified ads I saw an advertisement for a M.S. Art teacher. I applied, and through uncharacteristic boldness and luck, I got the job.

And slowly, I realized that the thing I loved most, and the space I loved most was creating. Sitting in a sunshine filled place with a steaming mug of coffee, tools of making in my hands, excavating beauty from the stories that make up our lives.

To me this piece is about the pull. About how all these little tidbits and disconnected themes in your life have direction and movement. You may not see the image they are forming until you reach the destination. But, your passions, your curiosities, your dreams – they all are leading somewhere.

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EVENTUALLY lyrics by Tim Coons
My hourglass, my calloused hands

My furrowed brow in all my plans

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

The distance I have traveled

The wool that I have gathered

I’ll come into my own, I’ll come into my own

Heaven’s ship sails low

All the while, it’s ever close

You know you know…

You’ll never have that time you need

You strike the rock but nothing bleeds

You’ll come into your own


the distance you have wandered
The fabric torn asunder

You’ll come into your own, you’ll come into your own

Heaven’s ship sails slow

Give it time, it’ll show

before you go, before you go

you know, you know, oh

“Becoming” Art Series Released

Coming Down From the Mountain_web
“Coming Down from the Mountain”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Elixers


Prints available here

On becoming an artist
“On Becoming an Artist”

24X18 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Eventually


Prints available here

boxing shadows_web

“Boxing Shadows”

18X24 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Boxing Shadows

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

Waking Up_web

“Waking Up”

16X12 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Please Cover Me


Prints available here



Butterfly Tree_web

“Monarch Migration”

15X30 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

Sunrise Sunrise little house_web


11X14 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Sunrise, Sunrise, Sunrise

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

On Becoming Rooted_web

“On Becoming Rooted”

24X48 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Will You Stay or Will You Go?


Prints available here


The universe is in us_web

“The Universe is in Us”

12X16 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: I Have Waited for You

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

we grow up_web

“We Grow Up”

12X16 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

moon is won_web

“The Moon is Won”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Big Sister on the Toy Phone

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

Leap of Faith_web

“Leap of Faith”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

into the horizon_web

“On Losing”

16X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Dust to Dust

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

Growing Up_web

“On Femininity”

24X36 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

Ghosts for Tinder_web

“Ghosts for Tinder”

12X30 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: Ghosts for Tinder


Prints available here

Cutting through fog_web

“When You Cut Through the Fog”

12X24 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame
Companion Song: You Seem Yourself

For purchasing inquiries, email betonycoons@mac.com

Prints available here

Color wheel_web


20X20 mixed media on canvas with custom wood frame


Prints available here


November Ideas and Activities around the Theme “Bread”

For this entire year I’ve been doing an at home curriculum with the family (Lucy 6, Hattie 4, Beatrice 1). Tim and I call the project “Abacus” and we’re sharing it each month for the fun, challenge, and community of it. Each month we choose a theme and then come up with a bunch of activities around that theme. Read all about how to use this list and our heart behind this project here.
Explore past months themes here.

Our theme this month is “Bread.” To me it is a month of reflection and purposeful simplifying of habits. “Bread” is about that which sustains us. Bread is foundational and simple. Yet speaks deeply of home and family. I want this month to be about three things – ritual, simplicity, and giving. Sometimes it is the everyday routines that are most beautiful. The activities repeated over and over again until they almost become prayers. I just read this little snippet from a book I am reading and love how it is put –

“We do chores twice each day, 7 days each week, 365 days each year. Where we live there’s nothing unusual about this; many of our neighbors adhere to similar schedules, and have for half a century or more. Sometimes I consider the math: Twice daily multiplied by 365 is 730, multiplied by fifty years is….36,500. Thirty-six thousand chore times. It is almost impossible for me to fathom, it feels insurmountable. But of course it is not. Sometimes, chores are just chores: haul the water, throw the hay, run the fence. Cold, hot, wet, dry. Hurried. But often, I think of chores the way I suspect some people think of a practice – meditation, or yoga, or a prayer. Maybe aikido or a musical instrument. I like to think of chores this way; it seems to give me license to sink into them, to inhabit them in a way that would otherwise elude me.”

From Home Grown by Ben Hewitt

For us these daily rituals are making beds, morning coffee, feeding the animals (birds, bunny, and cat), preparing meals, a quiet walk around the block before dinner, reading together at bedtime, cleaning up the house after kids are asleep, and ending the day with a cup of tea in the rocking chairs on the front porch – I want to dig in to these simple practices this month.

NOVEMBER Dates to Take Note of:

November 1st – All Saints Day
November 3rd – Election Day
November 11th – Veteran’s Day
November 26th – Thanksgiving Day

Local: Greeley, CO events:

November 6th – My “Becoming” Art Show! (At the Atlas Gallery)
November 28th – Indie Arts Greeley Winter Market at Atlas Theater
November 20th – Becoming CD and Art Release Party at Atlas Theater



A purposeful slowing down and simplifying –
not buying as much,
not driving as much,
looking at our devices less,
getting rid of clutter,
eating simpler,
not planning as much.

Put flannel sheets on the beds and get out the cozy pajamas and house slippers.



Read this article called “Bread is Broken” about the Bread Lab – and find some heirloom wheat varieties to sample

Weekly bread baking – be ritualistic about this. Be able to make our loaf from memory and hone it down to a family recipe. Make the girls part of this ritual – kneading, punching down dough, taste testing.

Here is my families favorite bread recipe. It is called Rabbit Hill Oatmeal Bread. My parents had it on their honeymoon on the east coast and it has been a family favorite ever since. It is a rich caramel brown bread that smells deeply of molasses and home. Slather it with extra butter and eat it warm with no adornments needed.

My father always does a reading before any special meal. Tim and I have come to love this book called Common Prayer. Each day follows the same liturgy as it takes you through 365 days of reflection, with additional prayers for special events like moving into a new home, losing a loved one, or holidays.



Showcase pressed leaves and the last remnants of autumn by making these lovely sun catchers.
We started a tradition last year called the Thankful Tree Table Altar a beautiful idea conceptualized by our friend Greg Nordin. – Each day we each add a leaf to the tree of something we are thankful for. It is a lovely centering family activity.
Get out the Knitting and quilting baskets

Make these simple useful baskets from clothesline



Rake leaves just to jump in them


Thanksgiving mixes – for us, Thanksgiving/November music is old hymns, warm crackly records, and layered folk voices. Every year we make a themed playlist. Here is one favorite from 2006 –


We have recently discovered that books about food, like Dragons Love Tacos, provide great inspiration for getting our very picky eaters to try new foods and enjoy meals. Now I just need someone to illustrate a really thrilling book about broccoli….
Pick a book, make a meal around it, and read the book while eating it.
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Anticipation of the first snow Books:
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For me – The Life Changing Practice of Tidying Up

Several people have recommended books recently about simplicity living – clearing out clutter. One idea that stuck out to me challenged you to ask three questions when evaluating whether to keep something or not. “Is it beautiful?” “Is it useful?” or “Does it bring you joy?” If the answer is not “yes” to any of those, than it is time for it to move on.  I am giving myself a challenge of Weekly filling a tub to donate to a thrift store. Areas of attack:

Kids Clothes
Basement Storage
Games and Toys
Kitchen Extras
Knick knacks and decorative items

Speaking of donations, I want to spend more time this month donating time, money. and food to places that need it. Always baking an extra loaf of bread to send with a friend, participating in a food or coat or toy drive, and finding ways to bring the girls into the acts of giving as well.

Time to get baking. Happy November!