Long time no introduction. Hi, my name is Erika.

Hey there!  I thought it was time for a little introduction from me to you.  It's been awhile.

My name is Erika Barriga and I'm a watercolor illustrator and painter.  I'm a mom of two little girls (3 and 6) and they are everything.  I've been away for a little bit because A) this is a one woman show, B) I've been working on the site and my online watercolor mixing course for beginners which comes out later this month and C) this is our first year of adjusting to a kiddo that is actually in school with a summer break (omg, the adjustments!).  

Thanks for bearing with me. I hope you enjoy getting to know me a little better.

Have a great one!

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Prima Watercolors - Decadent Pies - First Impression and Swatches

This Decadent Pies palette by Prima Watercolors has so many options.  It's a little overwhelming since it is a whole palette unto itself and not a small selection of four colors like I'm used to.  The colors are so rich and pretty; especially the yellows, green and blues.

The packaging is exactly the same as the Jane Davenport ones so I don't know if it is the same watercolors, just white labeled for Jane Davenport or what.  I had deja vu for the longest and then the light bulb went off, "these look just like Jane's!"  lol  If you can clue me in, please do, so interested. :)

I love using limited color palettes.  So for the sweet girl in the thumbnail I only used 5 colors out of the set.  The green and brightest blue (last one in bottom row) are insane.  I used masking fluid for the first time to preserve the whites in the dress so I could have the stars pattern too.  No granulating with this set and so many possibilities, Prima just got another fan in me.

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P.P.S. Online Watercolor Summer Camp is 1 on 1 live painting that I offer from the comfort of your own home.  Check out all the details right here.

Designs by Rachel Beth Watercolors - Cupcakes and Cocktails - First Impression/Swatches

This is a dreamy set of watercolors by Designs by Rachel Beth.  Cupcakes and Cocktails is very popular and sells out almost instantly every time she lists it.   I can see what all the hype is about, it is shimmery pastel goodness.  If you like subtle shimmer, pinks and blues, you will love this set.  When I painted the thumbnail for this video the paints layered and mixed so well, just like the other sets.  Beautiful set.

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter where you get 20% off art prints and paper goods, plus you will get studio sneak peeks, updates, freebies and more.  Just saying, sign up now :)

P.P.S. Online Watercolor Summer Camp is 1 on 1 live painting that I offer from the comfort of your own home.  Check out all the details right here.

Designs by Rachel Beth Watercolors - Winter Garden - First Impression/Swatches

This cool toned watercolor set by Designs by Rachel Beth on Etsy took me out of my comfort zone a bit.  I tend to gravitate toward warm colors and neutrals, so this muted palette was a great addition to my (out of control) stash.  There a no shimmers in this set but the purples and blues are calming and serene.  Winter Garden is the perfect name for this set, she is really good with the names by the way.  I feel like with her other paints, a little goes a long way because they are so pigmented.  I like to layer washes and her paints do tend to lift easily (come back off of the paper with water and some smudging), so be careful of that.  Just lay down your wash and be done with it, don't fiddle too much or you can lift up what you already laid down.

I have two tips for you when working with her palettes or any small tin palettes.  The first tip is to have a mixing palette on hand.  This is the one I use.  A white plate or plastic one is fine, I just needed room to mix my paints.  These beautiful tins have all of the space occupied by the swatch paper and the paints (which I don't mind at all, so convenient).  So when I was working with them I completely forgot that I need room to mix and once I had that room, painting was an even better experience.  My second tip is to get a holder of some sort because if you are like me, you will quickly have a collection of little tins.  I have a Glossier pink bubble wrap zip bag that they package their products in, so it works perfectly. 

Do you have this palette? Do you tend to paint with cool tones or warm tones?  I am a warm tone person, through and through.

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter where you get 20% off art prints and paper goods, plus you will get studio sneak peeks, updates, freebies and more.  Just saying, sign up now :)

P.P.S. Online Watercolor Summer Camp is 1 on 1 live painting that I offer from the comfort of your own home.  Check out all the details right here.

Designs by Rachel Beth Watercolors - Northwest Adventures - First Impression/Swatches

This watercolor set by Designs by Rachel Beth on Etsy is another winner.  I am a sucker for a good warm yellow and this is basically a set of primaries (red, yellow, blue, etc) with a little extra punch and richness.   If you are starting out, this is one of the first sets I would recommend because of the color mixing possibilities.  I think I'll make a color-wheel out of these paints, if you are interested in a video/post about that, let me know down below.

Her palettes are handmade and packaged with care.  I can see so many project possibilities from this palette.  

I have two tips for you when working with her palettes or any small tin palettes.  The first tip is to have a mixing palette on hand.  This is the one I use.  A white plate or plastic one is fine, I just needed room to mix my paints.  These beautiful tins have all of the space occupied by the swatch paper and the paints (which I don't mind at all, so convenient).  So when I was working with them I completely forgot that I need room to mix and once I had that room, painting was an even better experience.  My second tip is to get a holder of some sort because if you are like me, you will quickly have a collection of little tins.  I have a Glossier pink bubble wrap zip bag that they package their products in, so it works perfectly. 

Let me know if you have tried her paints or any other handmade paints. :)

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter where you get 20% off art prints and paper goods, plus you will get studio sneak peeks, updates, freebies and more.  Just saying, sign up now :)

P.P.S. Online Watercolor Summer Camp is 1 on 1 live painting that I offer from the comfort of your own home.  Check out all the details right here.

Designs by Rachel Beth Watercolors - Happy birthday - First Impression/Swatches

Another gorgeous set of watercolors by Designs by Rachel Beth on Etsy!  All of her palettes are handmade and packaged with care.  She gives a little sample from another set in every order.  The soft pastels in this Happy Birthday palette remind me of cotton candy and the shimmer of Copper Candles is just icing on the cake.   I painted the mermaid in the video thumbnail with these colors and they are just the dreamiest.  I cannot wait to paint full pieces with this palette.

I have two tips when working with her palettes or any small tin palettes.  The first tip is to have a mixing palette on hand.  This is the one I use.  A white plate or plastic one is fine, I just needed room to mix my paints.  These beautiful tins have all of the space occupied by the swatch paper and the paints (which I don't mind at all, so convenient).  So when I was working with them I completely forgot that I need room to mix and once I had that room, painting was an even better experience.  My second tip is to get a holder of some sort because if you are like me, you will quickly have a collection of little tins.  I have a Glossier pink bubble wrap zip bag that they package their products in, so it works perfectly. 

My obsession is rapidly growing, loving my collection. 

Let me know if you have tried her paints or any other handmade paints. :)

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter where you get 20% off art prints and paper goods, plus you will get studio sneak peeks, updates, freebies and more.  Just saying, sign up now :)

P.P.S. Online Watercolor Summer Camp is now OPEN and closes Monday, May 21.  Check out all the details right here, limited spots available. :)

Designs by Rachel Beth Watercolors - Irish Luck - First Impression/Swatches

Spoiler alert, I absolutely love these watercolors by Designs by Rachel Beth on Etsy!  She makes handmade watercolor palettes and the attention to detail is everything.  From her consistent Friday shop updates, to the ease of ordering, it's all good.  I love the unique shades you get in this Irish Luck palette, there is just nothing like them that I've seen.  These have a shimmer to them that works beautifully in original pieces.  Duo-chrome candy and I am obsessed.  I've painted bears with the paints so far and you can see them right down below and on my Instagram.

These green shades will work perfectly with my future mermaids as well.  Such a great addition to my set.  If I had to give a tip, it would be to have a mixing palette on hand.  A white plate or plastic one is fine, I just needed room to mix my paints.  These beautiful tins have all of the space occupied by the swatch paper and the paints (which I don't mind at all, so convenient).  So when I was working with them I completely forgot that I need room to mix and once I had that room, painting was an even better experience.  

I can't recommend these paints enough and I have a bit of an obsession.  You can get half pans and full pans, plus she offers free shipping.  I'm on my fourth palette. *ahem* :) #sorrynotsorry

Have you tried her paints or any other handmade paints?  Let me know!

P.S. Don't forget to sign up for my newsletter where you get 20% off art prints and paper goods, plus you will get studio sneak peeks, updates, freebies and more.  Just saying, sign up now :)

P.P.S. Online Watercolor Summer Camp is now OPEN.  Check out all the details right here, limited spots available. :)

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Speed Paint Watercolor Mermaids Pt 2 and Creative Workshops Chit Chat

A couple of weeks ago I attended the first Children's Festival of Stories in Denver.  The first day was all about different events for kids and meeting other authors/illustrators.  There was a musician playing the cutest songs on ukelele, Emily Arrow, loved her songs!  The second day was full of different workshops, some focused on drawing the art for picture books and others were more focused on writing.  Instead of just taking classes centered on art, I decided to choose some writing workshops too.  It was so informative.  I am an author/illustrator and I have a published book, Queen Quail is Quiet, but it isn't a story with a beginning middle and end. There is a different tongue twister story for each letter.  

The writing workshops were SO good because I was able to understand more of the steps of creating character and dialogue.  A way to go about it is to think of the characters, their setting and what they are doing.  Then understanding the background of the story for the characters to have a thing and issue to react to in their dialogue.  It was amazing.  In the video I talk about the lamest dialogue ever, give a little background and then share what we came up with as a group in like 30 minutes tops.  It was the coolest thing ever, I'm still hyped about it.  

Bottom line, workshops can help you grow.  They did and continue to do so for me. :)

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Speed Paint Watercolor Mermaids Pt 1 and Whole 30 Chit Chat

Hey guys! How are you?  So here we are in April and I can’t believe it.  I kinda can though because of what I was doing all through March. One thing I have been up to was painting a beautiful mermaid collection (2 shown in video, all four are in the shop) that you can see right here in my Etsy shop.  Also, I finally jumped in and did Whole 30. Whole 30 is a diet (hate that word), where you only eat unprocessed foods for 30 days.  

I’m a mom of two little girls and I was unhappy with my body and how I was feeling overall.  So I decided to make a change and just go for it.  It wasn’t easy to take away that connection for awhile, so many connections associated with food and drink.  That is usually our thing and how we decompress in the evenings or over the weekends.  I had been thinking about trying Whole 30  since last summer and when I went over my options for months to start, being extremely realistic, I landed on March.  Not much going on and I could really cut things out for 30 consecutive days.  

Lessons Learned

The first thing I learned was that I had a huge chip on my shoulder about having things when I wanted to.  Just because I am “grown” and have the means to get this or that.  I really needed to up my self-control and make better choices overall.  Super enlightening and necessary.  I was being a great example for our kids when they were around.  But for me, I can’t just eat whatever whenever, health comes first. 

The second thing I learned, my issues with not being able to think and lose weight was because of me.  Not because of “mom brain” or metabolism, it was purely (for me) my eating habits.  I didn’t work out at all and I ended up losing 12 lbs.  I didn’t weigh myself during, only after 30 days and I could feel the difference.  I do exercise but I couldn't make time for it during my Whole 30 because of hectic scheduling and being sick off and on.  Cheekbones are out, my energy is up, I sleep so much better, my skin is looking great and my tummy is flat.  I repeat, my tummy is flat.  Like, it was flat after 5-6 days of cutting out grains.  I had no idea grain bloat was a thing!

Lastly, for me to be successful with my plan, I had to be prepared. I loved having hard boiled eggs and fruit for breakfast.  Sweet potato hash cooked in coconut oil and sea salt.  Almonds or cashews for snacking.  Shrimp with salt and pepper along with steamed broccoli for lunch.  Then a really good chicken recipe like my mushroom and coconut chicken one, delicious!  I have my recipes listed in my Pinterest (Recipes I Love).  There’s also a Paleo Apple Crisp that is so yummy too.  On days when I wasn’t prepared, I gave Chipotle all my money and ordered carnitas bowls with meat, guacamole, pico de gallo and lettuce.  I didn’t introduce La Croix until the third week and when I do drink them I only drink 1 a day.  I completely got turned on to black coffee which is absolutely nuts, I would have lost money on that bet.  It has to be coffee from Starbucks or a mom and pop location, never ever instant coffee.  

The Verdict

If you have done Whole 30 before, let me know!  If you haven’t and you’re thinking about it, I highly recommend it.  This has changed the way I eat forever.  I will pretty much eat like this 95% of the time.  No more tummy gurgles, I understand when my body is hungry or thirsty and I am just better in touch with me.  Also, I wasn’t off eating by myself for dinner, most of the time we were eating together.  If they ordered a pizza or something, I would usually eat my prepared leftovers.  Spaghetti is a weekly occurrence here so I would make the seasoned ground beef, put it in a bowl with avocado, then add the spaghetti sauce to the rest of the beef and make their spaghetti.  Easy peezy.  

I hope this helps you find out more about Whole 30 and I hope you checked out the Mermaid Collection as well.  Join my newsletter so you get 20% off, never miss an art print release, get sneak peeks and get future updates too.  :)

P.S.

I  use this gadget to cook my hard boiled eggs, works like a charm!

 

Affordable Newborn Baby Must Haves Chat and Cute Bear Nursery Art

My babies are no longer babies. Sniff.  They are 5 years old and 3 years old, so the swaddling days are over. 

When I was painting and sketching for a future larger art piece, it got me thinking about when my little ones were teeny tiny babies.  These are the things that got us through the hard stuff, holy grail even,  from baby 1 to baby 2.  Hopefully this helps new moms to navigate their new motherhood journey from the start.

Graco Travel System - The convenience of a jogger stroller is just the best.  This one is light, made for running with it (when you're ready) and the baby carrier part pops out as well.  I love the storage underneath, perfect for when I would go on a walk to the mailbox with a baby or two.

Gerber 5-pack onesies (long sleeve and short sleeve) - Baby mittens never worked for my girls, they would have those puppies off in no time.  So to protect them from their own razor sharp nails, we used the long sleeved onesies with gloves attached.  They were great and pretty much always stayed put.

Weighted Baby Swaddle - This type of baby swaddle is extra comforting to babies because it makes them feel held and secure.  So cute and useful.  They were so peaceful and content, that made longer nap times as well.

Swaddle Receiving Blankets - Breathable and so so comfy.  These are the unweighted kind in muslin cloth, we had several of these in the cutest patterns.

Burp Cloths - a must have, especially since this type has a different backing that protects you from the spit up soaking through and getting to you.  Love.

Newborn Nightgowns - When you are only getting 2 hours of sleep at a time, the last thing you want to do is fumble with onesie snaps for diaper changes in the dark.  I highly recommend newborn nightgowns, so easy to change diapers and sometimes you won't even wake the baby with these.  Very convenient.

Baby Hats - It's essential to keep newborn baby's heads warm so having a good supply of baby hats on hand is a must. They are so cute all bundled up and stylin'.

Breast Pump - I breastfed both my girls and I swear by the Medela Freestyle Pump in the tote style.  It had everything I needed, made transitioning back to work a breeze and the double pumping means your hands are free so you can set a timer on your phone while you check out social media at the same time. Anything to pass the time easier helps.

Baby mirror - When you're looking for a baby mirror for your car, this is a really good one.  I love the way it vertically wraps over the headrest instead of horizontally.  The mirror is substantial in size and there are little toys that move around to keep baby entertained.  No guesswork involved with wondering if your baby is asleep or not, loved our mirror.

Sunshade - Baby's skin is super sensitive so this is the sunshade we used for protection.  This kit is great because you have extra that you can pop into the rear mirror from time to time.  

If you have any baby items you absolutely loved, please share down below. 

Would love to know what worked for you during this precious time!

P.S.
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