Visiting ArtPrize 2013 in watercolor, pen and ink is an architecture painting of part of downtown Grand Rapids by artist Esther BeLer Wodrich


By #The100DayProject, Architecture, Landscape, Pen and Ink, Realism, Watercolor

ArtPrize 7 opens September 23rd!

I’m pleased to once again be hosted at West Coast Coffee for ArtPrize 7 in 2015. If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, please stop by to visit, pick up a Giclée print of the artwork and vote for the painting with code 61217. Enjoy this timelapse of daily progress in “Visiting ArtPrize 2013”, or click here to see the completed work.

*The original pencil drawings were nearly too light to see, so with a little help from Photoshop you can see the pencil drawing portion in the first part of the timelapse.

“Visiting ArtPrize 2013″ – a 24″x30” painting in watercolor, pen and ink of downtown Grand Rapids from my visit to my first ArtPrize in 2013.

ArtPrize Entries:

Visiting ArtPrize 2013 in watercolor, pen and ink by artist Esther BeLer Wodrich

Visiting ArtPrize 2013, ArtPrize 7

"Swinging" - a graphite drawing of a girl hanging on a swing.

Swinging, ArtPrize 6

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge, ArtPrize 5

#The100DayProject Recap

By #The100DayProject, Writing
Saint Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

On Tuesday, July 14, I completed the 100th – and final – update in #The100DayProject with the completed “Saint Paul’s Cathedral”. What a journey this has been! Here’s some stats on what went on during those 100 days:

  • 100+ artwork posts (at least one a day)
  • 15 blog posts (including this one)
  • 9 completed paintings
  • 11 Scripture Sunday verses
  • 5 videos
  • 3 reshares
  • 100s of new artist connections
  • 1 artist interview (thanks Ria Sharon!)

The weekly blog write-ups included an introduction to #The100DayProject, a discussion about hard work, the art of making time, the importance of just showing up, an experimental time-lapse movie, a comparison of #The100DayProject and Crossfit, general updates of artwork, surviving . . . er, keeping it up through Summer Break, facing fear of failure, the cliche of being true to yourself (Seriously!), overcoming a case of the “Theys”, finding the right time for dreams, choosing subjects for sentiment over form, ending the series with the perfect combination of sentiment and beauty, and now this – the recap.

Phew! I need a nap.

The completed artworks:

Here are the complete 100 entries in #The100DayProject are below (or you can see a 3 part video summary @estherbeler on Instagram):


#The100DayProject, The Final Drawing

By #The100DayProject, Architecture, Writing
Saint Paul's Cathedral, London

Saint Paul’s Cathedral, London

I love drawing.

But I don’t always love every thing I’m drawing. Sometimes I have a grand vision that didn’t come together as hoped. Other times I work on something and want to rush to finish it because I’m more excited about the next piece I’m working on. And then sometimes I choose something for sentimental value over aesthetics.

But this drawing . . .
I LOVE this drawing! This week I started and finished the ink portion of the beautiful Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London. My husband and I celebrated our 16th anniversary this past Friday and it was appropriate for me to draw this since it was during our 15th anniversary that we visited London.  

Sentimental + Beautiful = WIN!

The last 2 days of #The100DayProject will be spent adding watercolor and possibly inking in the buildings leading up to Saint Paul’s. I can’t wait!

Tune in next week for a recap of #The100DayProject.

Here’s this week’s progress:

Day 92 Close up

Day 92 Close up, Day 1

Day 93 - Drawing close up

Day 93 – Close up, Day 2

Day 94 - Drawing complete

Day 94 – Drawing complete

Day 95 - Pen and ink begins

Day 95 – Pen and ink begins

Day 96 - more

Day 96 – more

Day 97 - and more

Day 97 – and more

Day 98 - Scripture Sunday

Day 98 – Scripture Sunday

#The100DayProject and Freedom

By #The100DayProject, Architecture, Pen and Ink, Watercolor, Writing

This week I started and finished a new painting. I chose this subject less for it’s aesthetic qualities but instead for it’s meaning. I chose the interior of the [now] museum at Ellis Island.

EllisIsland_GreatHallWhen I choose a subject for a painting, I often sort through hundreds of personal photos – either in printed or digital form – until something strikes me. Typically what strikes me is something beautiful or with strong lines and contrast, or interesting architecture, or sometimes, something sentimental. This photo has been in my “ideas” folder for quite some time, and I have to think it was through divine providence that I chose to work on it now. Ellis Island symbolizes “Freedom” for me and what better date to complete it but on the Fourth of July.

My grandfather came to America from Greece when he was just a boy. When my husband and I visited the museum at Ellis Island a few years ago I thought mostly about him, but also what it must have been like for all the people who’ve entered this country looking for a new start, for streets paved with gold, for ways to provide for their families, for freedom. There is something very special that happens when I work on a picture. When I paint a picture, I find I also meditate on the time or place that I’m working on. This time I was able to spend those moments marking the page while contemplating the journey my grandfather went on. Contemplating freedom.

Day 85: "A House in Phoenix"

Day 85: “A House in Phoenix”

Day 86: Starting "Freedom"

Day 86: Starting “Freedom”

Day 87

Day 87

Day 88

Day 88

Day 89 - Pen and ink complete

Day 89 – Pen and ink complete

Day 90 (July 4): "Freedom"

Day 90 (July 4): “Freedom”

Day 91: Scripture Sunday

Day 91: Scripture Sunday

#The100DayProject and #Dreams

By #The100DayProject, Writing

My dear friend Britta of asked me this question recently when I was debating with her the pros and cons of managing my own printing and setting up an online store:

“If your dreams came true right now, would it turn out to be a nightmare?”

This stopped me in my tracks.

I’d been so focused on producing, making and moving towards the next goal(s) without considering the impact of reaching these goals. She was right. Absolutely, totally and profoundly right. If I were to start up an online store, I have no idea how it would do, but what if?  What if I had orders every day? How can I manage printing, printer problems, orders, shipments, demand right now? 

Now?! During Summer Break, the kids home 24/7, the hubby travelling, the inconsistant schedules, the dragging everyone everywhere every day. The busy mama who is just happy to get up early and work for 45 minutes or so before the kids come out and the chaos of the day begins.

Oh, am I grateful for that question, and so grateful that God puts people in our lives that can help us see more clearly, to guide us on our paths. I don’t have to give up on my dreams, but I also don’t have to force big decisions until the time is right. I can keep working,  planning and refining. I can create, exhibit, start off selling small. I can use this time to prepare and get ready for the day, in just over a year, when all 4 kids are in school.

Waiting is not stopping. It isn’t failure, it isn’t giving up. The hopes, the dreams, the goals; they are still there and now more achievable (and less stressful) than ever. The path to them might be a little longer than originally planned but the path remains and it looks a little bit smoother now.

Day 78

Day 78 – Venetian View

Day 79

Day 79 – Drawing with the kids

Day 80

Day 80

Day 81

Day 81

Day 82

Day 82 – The Cockpit in Pen and Ink

Day 83

Day 83 – The Cockpit

Day 84. Scripture Sunday

Day 84. Scripture Sunday

#The100DayProject, and a Case of the Theys

By #The100DayProject, Writing

Some days, I can get a very bad case of the Theys.

They create AMAZING artworkThey are successful. They really have it together.
They have more time. More style. Better ideas.
They are more creative.
They are better.
They are . . .

The fact is there will ALWAYS be Theys. So, you see, I’m being perfectly frank, here. I know that I’m not alone. Each day I work .  . . hard. And each day that I work, my work is the key to winning the battle against the invasive thoughts of They. Each day I put my brave face forward and show up to fight.

But today I’m laying it out there.

Because, just maybe I am a They to someone, and just maybe You are a They to someone, too.

Day 71

Day 71

Day 72

Day 72

Day 73

Day 73

Day 74

Day 74

Day 75

Day 75

Day 76

Day 76

Day 77: Scripture Sunday

Day 77: Scripture Sunday

#The100DayProject and Clichés

By #The100DayProject, In Progress, Writing

Forgive me. This week I am presenting the biggest cliché ever; being true to yourself.

I’ve lived a wise, old 40 years *wink, wink*. This may come as a surprise, but I’ve made some mistakes along the way. For starters, did I mention I am 40? Forty. And I’ve only recently been working seriously towards my life-long dream. Some moments it can kinda feel like I blew it.

That being said, I don’t think I could have done it before now. If I focus on the years I “lost” along the way I am staring down a deep dark pit. But if I really consider what could have been, I know I wasn’t ready. I didn’t believe in myself, but that’s not the half of it. I didn’t know who I was. Some people are great at being totally and completely all their own selves. My husband is one of them. He is the most driven individual I know, and he thrives on knowledge and developing his own opinions rather than jumping on band wagons. It’s not that he stubbornly sticks to his ways. He studies, researches, analyzes and considers. When discussing his points of view, his go-to phrase is that he “doesn’t read articles”, he “reads studies”.  He, frankly, is impossible to argue with.

I, on the other hand, spent the first decade of my adult years taking on all of the opinions and attributes of family and friends I most respected. I was a clone without even realizing it. I was/am a people pleaser and sometimes it affects my ability to see things clearly.

Additionally, my art was frankly not at the same level as it is now. I had a period of time right out of college where I tried to create abstract art. Having just graduated from the very conceptual School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I could say I was attempting to stretch myself as an artist, but the truth is I wanted to build up a quick body of work and chose the easiest way I could think of. I’m not putting down abstract artists. No doubt there are those with a different mind than myself that can spend days and months working to get an abstract work *just right*, but for me it was a means to an end. I was attempting to find a shortcut. This left me disatisfied. Then depressed. And finally to returning to a software career and putting my future as an artist to the side.

Here I am, 13 years and 4 kids later. I now know a lot more about myself as a person and as an artist. Facing my mortality challenged me to be patient in the process and push my art to a new level. I’ve learned a few other things along the way.
There are no shortcuts.
Success will not fall in my lap.
Working diligently produces confidence.
I must continue to work hard and never give up for as long as my mind and body will allow me.
I will fight to push away that little voice that says I can’t.

Maybe it’s not just about being true to yourself. It’s about determining who you are and persistantly working towards an even better you.  It’s never too late to follow work hard for your dreams.

Day 64

Day 64. What is it?

Day 65.

Day 65. Close ups look further along.

Day 66.

Day 66. Details details.

Day 67.

Day 67. Need more hours in the day.

Day 68.

Day 68. Some late night progress.

Day 69,

Day 69. Southwark Bridge!

Day 70: Scripture Sunday

Day 70: Scripture Sunday

St. Louis Cathedral is a watercolor, pen and ink architecture painting of St. Louis Cathedral in worm's eye view at Jackson Square in New Orleans by Artist Esther BeLer Wodrich

#The100DayProject and Fear of Failure

By #The100DayProject, Architecture, Writing

Without a doubt, what prevents my start from starting  (and I bet I’m not alone) is Fear of Failure. Fear of Failure boldly barges into my life [my heart, my mind, my inner being] and bullies me into submitting to it’s will while lulling me with its lies. When Fear of Failure comes for a visit, I can safely hide inside my little world, my little family, working hard and keeping busy with meal making, laundry washing, house cleaning, homework helping, kid snuggling, husband adoring, and spending my little pieces of “free time” watching other people live their lives on Facebook, drinking coffee and convincing myself that I’m just too busy. Because, let’s face it, I AM busy. I can safely NOT fail if I never even try. Fear of Failure tends to show up a lot in my life; as an artist, at CrossFit, even at parenting my children. And it tells me the same thing each time: I can just stop showing up. . . I can just not.

As an artist, I’ve been told to only show my best work, but in #The100DayProject I’m forced to show my failures as well. This has challenged me to consider that showing my failures also reveals my humanity. I’m not perfect, not everything I do “turns out”. More than once I have been inspired to create something I thought would be amazing that instead fell flat.  But if I fail when I fail in this project, I’m going to show it and show up again the next day. No skipping the day’s posting, hiding in my room and “taking a break” from my work for my ego to recover. I will push the door closed against Fear of Failure, armed with my perseverance, persistence, and memory. I will fail sometimes but I know I will succeed again.

That being said, here’s this week’s progress, including the completed “St. Louis Cathedral“:

Day 57

Day 57

Day 57

Day 58

Day 58

Day 59

Day 59

Day 60

Day 60

Day 61



Day 63

Day 63: Scripture Sunday

#The100DayProject and Summer Break

By #The100DayProject, In Progress, Writing

8 weeks and halfway through #The100DayProject . . . and Summer Break is upon us!!!

Which means the 4 (four!) kids are with my every moment of every day.

4 kids.

Unless I’m at CrossFit. But I can’t live at CrossfFit. Nor can I draw at CrossFit. Drawing may help me work on grip strength but I can’t imagine how to keep my paper clean.
…but I digress.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my kids. But once you get used to the freedom of school, even the idea of Summer Break makes you feel like hiding in your room, locking the door and never coming out.

Before starting this project, (and before Summer Break) I typically had one and a half days of the school week when my youngest is in preschool to create and the occasional Saturday. So I’ve already learned I have to be creative in how to get the time in.

I had once heard about an artist who worked at least 15 minutes a day on her art once she had children. I couldn’t understand this. I can get completely swept up into a project and 15 minutes feels like barely enough time to get my head in it. This was unappealing to me and instead I opted to create almost nothing for the first several years of being a mom. That worked great. *sarcasm*

Now here we are, one week into Summer Break, and so far so good. How, you might ask? I’m an early bird, so a lot of mornings I’m in the studio around 5:30 and squeezing in 45 minutes to an hour before they are *supposed* to come out of their rooms. But, even if I’ve not been able to get to it early, I’ve found ways to make it work. . . during reading rest, sneak away for a few when they’re playing nicely, while they’re watching Odd Squad . . . squeeze it in wherever I can. What I have seen is that my family has gotten used to looking for me in the studio first thing in the morning, or any time of day. And they’re ok with it.

But the best part: without realizing it, I’ve reflected values I want my kids to embrace:

drive and determination
using and valueing the gifts that God gave them

. . . and I’m sure I’m missing more.

Now for this week’s progress:


Day 50: Experimenting is important, too


Day 51: Forget the wash


Day 52: Climbing up the hill


Day 53: Getting closer


Day 54: The drawing is nearly done


Day 55. On to my favorite part!

Day 56. Scripture Sunday

Day 56. Scripture Sunday


Jackson Square is a watercolor, pen and ink painting of Jackson Square in New Orleans by artist Esther BeLer Wodrich.

#The100DayProject, Week 7

By #The100DayProject, Architecture, Landscape

Getting stronger, getting faster, getting smarter, and definitely producing more work in spite of my “time limits” (aka kids). This latest  piece, “Jackson Square” felt like working in miniature after the last one, “Visiting ArtPrize 2013”. Here’s this week’s lastest, including the completed “Jackson Square”.

Day 43, Drawing

Day 43, Drawing

Day 44, and drawing

Day 44, and drawing

Homemade shutter stencil

Little homemade shutter stencil

Day 45, Started the ink

Day 45, Started the ink

Day 46, I love when it starts to really come together

Day 46, This is my favorite part

Day 47, ink is finished

Day 47, ink is finished

Day 48, nearly complete

Day 48, nearly complete


Watercolor, pen and ink painting of Jackson Square in New Orleans by artist Esther BeLer Wodrich.

Day 49 – Completed “Jackson Square”