watercolor United States map - 50 state paintings celebrating America the Beautiful. by Rachel Alvarez

summer’s breeze is a blowin’

My Story.

I can still remember it like it was yesterday… ripping up tiny pieces of a 3×5 card and shoving them into the pages of a book that I had just bought called “America’s Most Beautiful Road Trips”. I was in college, and my best friend Danny and I had decided that we were going to spend the summer of our freshman year of college sleeping in hostels and finding beautiful places to get lost.

He bought a new truck.  I wrote the list of what to bring.  We had a great plan.

With almost 2 months before we needed to hit the road, I picked up additional shifts at my waitressing job…stashing away the loose change and singles that I used to count on the living room floor of my parents house after I got off of work, making their house smell like one big pepperoni pizza.

The countdown had begun. The plans had been finalized. The cigarette-lighter-operated-cooler had been purchased.

Then, the most totally unexpected thing happened. It was catastrophic, and sudden. There was no way to get out of it. It was a sign of adulthood. It was a real dream crusher.

Danny had JURY DUTY.

….seriously?! Are you kidding me?


He had jury duty.

I couldn’t laugh about it then but, as an adult, it makes me giggle now. What terrible timing for something that probably everyone in the world dreads- well, maybe not EVERYONE, but probably not the kind of people I would be planning a cross-country road trip with.

When I was in my 20s I travelled as much as I could afford. Well, that is, after going to as many concerts as I could afford first. I never did get around to doing that cross country trip, but I did get around to painting it.


Watercolor U.S. Map

For over five months I day-dreamed about where I would go if I could finally make that journey as I painted 50 states. I flipped thru the pages of that same “best road trips” book and made another, updated, list of mental notes.

Last month, my husband and I were driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge on our way home from Annapolis. It occurred to me that nearly every 3rd car on the road had a Maryland crab sticker plastered on the back. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Maryland- and, I love eating some blue crabs but, I just don’t want a crab on my car. I decided then and there that I would somehow figure out how to make decals out of my watercolor state paintings.


thank you for the cool pic, R&M


I started with Maryland (only natural), and then moved onto the others- releasing about 10 new states every 2 weeks:


About a month ago, I was nearing the end of formatting them all and I had a thought: “what if there are people living in places all over this beautiful country that would like to participate in my “virtual” adventure?” By going to places in their local states and taking pics of one of my decals, I could live vicariously thru their travels and, shoot, maybe they’d even have a really fun time exploring, too.

Last week I received the first pic- taken on a coastline in Maine by Ranissa Finch of A&H Photography:


Next, I received a pic from Melissa, a customer who was traveling thru the mountains of North Carolina:


Finally, I was tagged in a post over on instagram (@rachealvarezart) with this awesome pic taken by Libby Hackett Photography in Wooster, Ohio:

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To date, I have shipped decals to 10 states but I am planning on doing all 50. It will be so fun to see how each local wants to celebrate their home state for this project.

Wanna get in on the fun? Follow me over on IG, and send me a PM here. We c an talk about where YOU live and where you wanna go on your adventure.

You could say that painting has become a fun way for me to explore- even if that only happens from my studio desk, painting during my kid’s nap-times.

I’ll take it.


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Love is in the air.

My Story.

This weekend, my husband and I will be celebrating our 5 year anniversary. Time sure does fly when you are having fun. I am so blessed to have a partner who supports my art. He’s simply the best.

It’s funny how life can put two people together. He’s Dominican, I’m a Maryland girl. We had very little of the same interests when we first met, but we both just knew.

I would’ve traveled the world to find a man like him, but I sure am glad that he was in Florida when I was.

What’s your love story?



I’m leaving’ on a jet plane…

My Story.

This past month has been so fun in my little world of watercolor.

I am now 80% done with a project that I have faithfully worked on, daily, for the past 4 months. Over 150 hours of painting and endless hours of sketching, planning, scanning, editing- repeating.

I still have a ways to go but, in the process, I have visited some of the most amazing places in my wanderlust imagination:

South Dakota


Indiana-coming soon


Kentucky -coming soon






New Hampshire-coming soon


This project has afforded me the opportunity to be increasingly astonished with the amount of natural beauty that I have within road-trip-travel-time of my home. My mind is swirling with daydreams of a summer cross country trips to all of these amazing places. I’m using this project as a virtual bucket list for my vacation plans. So, in reality, I am not painting- I am handwriting a HUGE map of places I’ll go – but with a paintbrush instead of a pen.

Someday world, someday.

Interested in seeing the rest of this series or some of my other work?

Please check out my website www.rachelalvarezart.com

Handmade with Love

My Story.

Last night I had the privilege of being interviewed by a lovely woman and artist, Linda Nance. She is the owner of Gotta Be Handmade. Here is a fun youtube video of the interview, where you’ll learn more about my process and inspiration. Hope you enjoy it!





You can see or purchase prints or notecards of the paintings that I share on this video here:

www.rachelalvarezart.com or www.etsy.com/shop/TheNapTimeArtist

Alabama, Arkansaw I do love my ma and pa.

My Story.

…not the way I do love you.

Those are the song lyrics that played as I was almost ready to walk down the aisle to be married to my sweetheart.

It was a VERY windy day:


There had been a tropical storm warning in effect. It’s ok, because we are the type of people that love a good adventure. In fact, that’s one of the things that hooked me about Frank. He was/is always willing to get in the car and just drive until we find something new.

My new series of paintings is a bit of an homage to that wanderlust lifestyle we love. We live in a beautiful world, and I want to celebrate that.


Eat Well, Travel Often

My Story.

When I was in art school, I remember writing my “artist statement”. I can remember being reprimanded by my painting instructor who said that my chosen statement of “I like to paint pretty things” wasn’t creative enough. So, 15 years later, here is my new statement. Pretty much sums me and my art up in a single phrase.

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I am fascinated by color- whether it’s in an awesome cotton candy sunrise, a donut with sprinkles or a lush landscape. My portfolio is as diverse as my interests, but one thing is common: fresh and full of color. DSC_0350donutcopyOregon

So, as boring as “i like to paint pretty things” is, I am still doing it years later- with a side of donuts. www.rachelalvarezart.com

limited palette and painting in a minivan.

My Story.

so, my secret is out. sometimes, when the house just gets a bit too chaotic for naps but everyone is sleepy, i drive around in a minivan. this has proven to be a win-win of sorts. let me explain:

anyone who has kids, or anyone who has ever needed a nap for that matter, knows that happiness is multiplied after good rest. happiness is also multiplied, for me, when I have fresh air, an open road and no certain place to be.

in my last post i talked about my mini altoid watercolor palette. i’ve seen much fancier ones, ones that had like 30 colors crammed into that tiny space-but i’m a rebel. i wanted to challenge myself to paint faster and better than ever before. so, these are the colors i have in my mini palette:

yellow ochre

ultramarine blue

cerulean blue

alizarin crimson

terra verde

sepia brown

don’t even ask me if this is a proper mini palette, it’s just what my “go to” colors are even when I have 40 tubes of paint in front of me.

so, here’s what has come from that: 2 tiny 5×7 paintings from the driver’s seat of my minivan, somewhere in the middle of nowhere:

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so far, i am happy with the colors that i have chosen. as a side note, it seems ultra appropriate that i have to rinse out my brushes in a tiny repurposed plastic gerber food container while on the go. it’s all worth it. everyone is happy, and we usually mysteriously find our way to a fun playground before everyone wakes up.

my minds wanders, as a drive, that honda would be entertained to hear that their van was even more useful than it already is. perhaps after a whole series of these are completed i can send them an email and thank them for their multipurpose family vehicle.




limited palette

My Story.

my husband and I are going to have a date tomorrow for our fourth anniversary. we are staying at a nice b&b and i am so excited. he says he’s going to nap. i am planning on drinking coffee and painting. side note: is it ironic that he will be napping while i paint? still, i love it. (and him, of course.)

tonight, after the kids went to bed, i fashioned this little helper out of an altoids tin, gerber baby food lids and some gorilla glue.

Screen Shot 2016-02-19 at 10.23.17 PM

somehow this whole art gig comes full circle back to my motherhood. secretly, (not so secretly) i kind of love it.

i will post pics soon of what i paint with my 6 color palette. i am feeling pretty good about it since i’m normally kind of lazy and stick to the same 4-5 colors anyhow: ultramarine blue, yellow ochre, crimson red, burnt sienna and violet.



It’s been a while.

My Story.

It’s been a while since I have taken the time to write any thoughts down on this site.

My daily life has definitely started to change now that our second little is trying to walk.

In December, I entered a new piece into a juried art show. Normally, I prefer to not even enter them since it kind of feels like a sports event-with the competitive part being the focus. Art is SO subjective, and it’s SO personal, and it’s SO hard for the person making it, that the very thought of watching all of the artists lined up to see if their name is announced at 7:00pm on a Friday night makes my skin crawl. I decided, however, that this show was one I should participate in. The theme “Small Wonders” seemed right up my alley since I am so pressed for time to do much with my art, and doing small work is what I’ve been doing anyhow.

For this show there were simple guidelines: nothing could be over 12″ in any direction, including the frame. Other than that, the theme was up to the artist’s interpretation, and could be done in any medium. I chose to do a watercolor piece- to challenge myself in unfamiliar territory.

(I have been working with watercolors lately. And, although I would like to say it’s because of some personal admiration for the medium, some homage to their translucent beauty…it has been for one reason and one reason only: cleanup time. I simply do not have as much time as I would like to do my art, and even though watercolor is quite difficult for me, it is very easy to set up/clean up the supplies.)

So, with about 2 weeks to prepare for the show, I completed this piece:


This piece measures exactly 12″x 12″, including the frame. Thirty tiny, 1″x 1″ landscapes of the Eastern Shore of Maryland are shown- from Ocean City to Dorchester County.

At the opening of the show awards were given. This piece did not win anything. Two really kind artists came up to me asking if this was my piece, and expressed their surprise that the judge had not chosen it. I thanked them, and explained that doing the piece had been more for my benefit, practicing a difficult medium for me, than for anything else.

I was able to speak to the judge that night as well. During our conversation she asked if I would like to know why she hadn’t chosen my piece. She stated that although she liked my choice of medium and format, she felt that there was not enough space devoted to each landscape to adequately show my skill as an artist.

A month later, I drove back to the gallery to pick it up. The gallery director met me at the door with a smile. “You’re Rachel”, she said. “Yes, ma’am”, I replied. “I was really surprised that your piece wasn’t chosen for an award. I thought you took the theme of the show and really ran with it….all those tiny landscapes…that must have taken forever! I’m sorry that it worked out this way. Please consider entering our next juried competition in April. I’d love to see what you come up with.” Those were encouraging words, I must say. Honestly, I never cared all that much about an award. But, as an artist-which is such a vulnerable thing to be, it’s always nice to be validated-especially by someone who appreciates art for a living.

As it turns out, another local gallery is doing a small works show. I am producing new work to submit, but I am also considering giving this piece another chance.

Art is a funny thing. You never know how it will be received. Thankfully, I am happy just to have produced something with my own two hands. There is something satisfying about having a vision and seeing it all the way through.

Here are the “postcards” I have completed for the upcoming show. They are 4″x6″.

On another note, it’s sunny and 50 degrees. Yahoo!!!