Saturday, August 23, 2014


Oils on paper are soon to be released on Monday Aug 25th! You requested and I delivered- frame-able art is here! Requests for prints have been coming in and these are my "prints" interpretation. Original oils on torn paper.  A little funky and a whole lotta fun- they are perfect to spread all over! Sizes and prices range from 4"x 5" ($40) to 16"x 20" ($250). I am now also offering custom work on paper sizes 16"x20" 20" x 24" 22" x 28" & 20" x 30." Email me for process and pricing: butler.hillary(at)   The mailing list is getting first dibbs on the new pieces this weekend- join up if you want to pick first- the form is at the top of this page. If not, check the website on Monday and see what new goodies are in store!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to Keep Succulents Alive

Succulents. They are so hot right now, but if you live in the humid South, they can be so hard to keep alive. Here's how I've managed to survive. Listen very carefully, grasshoppers and you will learn the secrets to succulent success in the South...

Step one, get enormous fish bowl, head to the garden store and buy a bunch of plants for a funky statement centerpiece for your dining room table. Oh, it's awesome- you want to look at it every day and you do. "Wow," you think, "This is the best idea I've had all year (and it was)." But wait- dining room does not get enough light, so move your arrangement to your kitchen table. Even better- this gets more light! Really tall plant in the middle grows so huge, it busts out of the container. "I have a green thumb!" you think, but don't get too high and mighty. Other plants start dying. Head over to friend's house who has amazing succulents growing beautifully on her back patio despite the torrential downpours we have had this summer. Become extremely befuddled. When asked her secret, she says she just left them alone all summer.  Hmmm. Set fishbowl arrangement on the back patio table to get more sun. Sun and glass fishbowl act like a giant magnifying glass fry plants. Move succulents to  yellow pot, as seen above. The rain drowns the plants who got all withery in the sun and you end up with some soggy messes. Rescue mission is on to save the survivors! What does one do? NOTHING! Pull out dead plants and leave the rest to fend for themselves outside.  Get a little plant for your birthday. Add it to the mix and pretend like it's been growing strong the whole time. Decide on a custody arrangement for your plants. Your kitchen table gets them on the weekdays, the back patio gets them on the weekends. So far, they have lasted 2 weeks like this and none of the plants have requested a therapist. Now the dining room is sad and requests its own plants. Two options remain: 1. Buy more plants and replace as they die or 2. head to Hobby Lobby and buy FAKIES! Option 2 wins! I have vowed to never make fun of ladies who have fake plants in their pots outside. They are the real winners, y'all. They have admitted defeat and can now move on with the rest of their lives. Moral of the story: when it's you vs. the succulents, they will win their right to live wherever they so well please or they will die a defiant death right on your very own table. :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Things to Do in Memphis Illustrated: Part 2

I've been working on a fun personal side project for a while now. I've been illustrating some of my favorite parts of town and things to do. It's a fun time to be a Memphian with the city positively exploding with Memphis pride. It's so exciting to see the city really come alive with excitement for itself and be proud of all it has to offer. When people ask me about my city and why they should visit, I tell people that Memphis is gritty- it's real, which is part of its charm. I love all of the hidden gems and character that's waiting around each corner and am excited to share my excitement via illustration. This is part 2 of who knows how many...

Today's full post is on the blog of my good friend and Memphis musician, Myla Smith. If you haven't heard her music, you're missing out big time and if you haven't met her yet, you're really missing out on hangnig out with one of my favorite people.  Click here to check out the post !

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


It's been a fun time in the studio lately working on a bunch of bigger custom pieces for clients. This is a recent biggie that's positively popping with bold color. It was so fun to work with Kelley on this for their new home. I can't wait to see where this goes! I've also been cooking up something new that will be released the end of August. Stay tuned- exciting things are happening!! 

Friday, August 1, 2014

Treats from Lebanon

My sister brought back the most gorgeous cookie molds from Lebanon and yesterday we gave it a try with some lemon rosemary shortbread. It was nothing short of heavenly and I think I've found my new favorite little treat to drop for friends, or maybe this is my Christmas cookie discovered in July.   The beauty of shortbread is that one can give a cookie a different name and it passes for breakfast... Cheerio!  

Monday, July 28, 2014

Things to do in Memphis, Illustrated: Summer Avenue Part I

I've been working on a fun personal side project for a while now. I've been illustrating some of my favorite parts of town and things to do. We've always been pro-Memphis and it's been such a bummer that traditionally Memphians have been down on Memphis. But not lately. The city is positively exploding with Memphis pride. It's so exciting to see the city really come alive with excitement for itself and be proud of all it has to offer. When people ask me about my city and why they should visit, I tell people that Memphis is gritty- it's real, which is part of its charm. I love all of the hidden gems and character that's waiting around each corner and am excited to share my excitement via illustration. This is part 1 of who knows how many. Let's just see where this goes...

Today's slice of Memphis is all about summer. The season Summer is winding down for most, but Summer Avenue is always hopping- just waiting to be explored. This ain't your mama's stomping' grounds, well at least not her hangout spot today. Summer is a hidden gem for the Memphian- full of eateries, dives, and oddities just waiting to be explored. Taco trucks have been springing up all down Summer and they are amazing and inexpensive. Go find you one and for dessert, do yourself a huge favor and head over to La Michoacana for a palette (or 5). The caramel and kiwi strawberry ones are my favorite- David loves the cookies and cream. Again, amazing and inexpensive. They now have mini pops for $.75 so you can try more flavors! Finish off this high falutin' excursion with a trip to the Palace Cinema. Your feet will stick to the floor and the animal fountains may have been installed circa 1962, but your ticket price for current films is $6, $5 during econo hour with a $2 popcorn and coke add on. Get yourself to Summer Avenue and let me know how it goes!!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Southern Hostessing 101: Fizzy Station

I've come to believe that the kitchen is the most loved room in the house. When we have people over, I find myself planning for appetizers on the patio and dinner in the dining room and then at the end of the evening, I find that we've spent the entire night in the kitchen- and that's just fine with me. We like to be cozy and the kitchen gives us that sense of warmth and intimacy- like you've been invited to the heart of someone's home. Since it's become our hangout, I've started keeping a fizzy station on our counter. It houses fizzy supplies: citrus, herb sprigs, drink stirrers, and Pellegrino or club soda. Beside it sits an illustrated recipe guide that I worked up so guests know what to do. This is our house special. If you find yourself in my kitchen, it would warm me to no end for you to pour yourself a fizzy, sit down, and stay a while. It is the best place in the house, after all...

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Favorite Art Supplies for the Oil Painter

Something happened three years ago. My hands got dry and crusty, my back hurt, I started getting carpal tunnel in my right arm, and I loved every minute of it. That was because I had quit my desk job and become a full time artist. Now, instead of my butt permanently molding to an office chair, I got to MOVE all day and was happy to trade any office perks for a life of constant paint crusted, un-manicured hands. My job hazards had changed and I couldn't be happier. I also traded in my office supplies for different tools and attire. My wedges had to go ( I tried painting in them a few times, but, well, I'm sure you can imagine how that worked out. Ahhh vanity...  :) ) and were replaced with the dreaded tennis shoes because my feet and back were killing me. Pens became brushes and paper became canvas. Computer work became blogging, marketing, accounting, and keeping up with orders. My hours went from 9-5 to 7-3 or 11- 10 or 8-4 depending on what the day held. When I think of my days now, I can't imagine living without these tools, my buddies, the items that shape my day and help grow me and my work.

My favorite tools of the trade.

1.) My 6" x 6" mini canvases and palette knives. I set up these little canvases at my easel or on my work table and let the ADD kick in and go to town painting on 6 or 10 at a time. They allow my brain to work on a form of post-it notes- small chunks of ideas going on to each canvas as inspiration hits and working each one in parts until beautiful compositions come together. I noticed massive growth  in my work when I moved to this system. It fits how my brain spits out info and ideas and it makes me really happy and the best part? I get to make the rules now! It's an odd transition and I forget sometimes that there really are no rules in this profession and it's liberating. As neurotic as they are, these "rules" work for me, and I like it! Those palette knives? Man, they are great! I'm working towards adding more huge chunks of paint into paintings- get ready, palette knives are coming out!

2. ) My over-sized toothpaste squeezer! Do you know how giddy I get when I use this thing? Artists out there, can you see how flat this squeezer gets that tube? I was getting so frustrated at how much paint was getting stuck in the tube and how much I was throwing away. I literally googled "industrial paint tube squeezer" and found this bad boy on Amazon. I use it every day and my heart sings to the tune of dollars in the bank instead of out.

3.) My paint splattered easels. A messy easel is a happy easel. If it's clean, you haven't put in enough hours on it yet. David got this in college for Christmas one year when his mom found a sale at Michaels. I inherited it when he moved to watercolors and I started painting big. This little lady and I have laughed, cried, danced, and stomped, (maybe a little cussing) together for several years now and she recently got a new friend when the big arse easels went on sale this spring. I use them to set big pieces on when working on a series or a pair for a client. I can't quit you two. I just can't.

4.) Brush babies. It is absolutely amazing how attached one crazy artist can get to her brushes. Do I have favorites? Yes, I do (don't tell the other brushes). I have so many and I find myself using the same 10 over and over. It's hard to find ones that have the perfect ratio of brush length to brush hair and bristle flexibility or any other dorky quality we look for in our brushes. These are probably the most personal art supply I have and if someone robs us, take the tv, please don't take my brushes...   

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Inexpensively Style a Small Space : An Apartment Tour!

Today is apartment tour day! A good friend of mine recently located to Jackson, MS and styled her apartment so beautifully. Lauren is a decorator and oozes style whether in her outfits or her home. I'm really excited to showcase her pad and have her share her secret tips on inexpensive ways to furbish your home with beautiful treasures. If you're in the Jackson area (and sometimes she comes to Memphis!), look her up (contact info at the bottom of the post)!

When my dear friend Hillary asked me if I would mind sharing a "tour" of my apartment with you, I didn't hesitate in saying yes! Many of us have gone through lots of transitions in life, and mine included moving from a much larger space to the current one that I call home. What has been reinforced to me through this process is that home is wherever you make it, and surrounding yourself with things that you love is what decorating is truly about. I thought I would share a few things that I have learned through this process in pictures (please bear with me as I am not a photographer).

I must start with the fact that these two fabulous pieces from Hillary are what I used as a jumping off point. It's always nice to have a place of inspiration to start that you can build from. White walls called for color elsewhere, and this was the perfect palate.

Most of what I own has been either thrifted and re-purposed, or passed down. Only a few of my key pieces are "new." I feel very strongly about the fact that a mix of new/old, free/purchased, natural/refinished is what builds a comfortable space.

I have also learned that everything need not be perfect (hence the animals in literally EVERY SINGLE SHOT). Just go with it and do what makes you happy. If you have big, empty walls but no big art, use several items to create one large piece. Create a center line around the room (around eye level) and hang each piece's center at that point. Don't try to align the tops or bottoms of your art.

Trends come and go. We are saturated with blogs, Facebook, Instagram, etc... these days that tell us what we need to be doing in our decorating. Stick with the classics and keep trends to a minimum. Don't let someone tell you something you love is "out" or not "on trend."

Balance your amount of neutrals and colors/prints and solids. Just make sure that there is a constant color or theme among them to keep everything pleasing to the eye and not a hot mess.

Don't be afraid to go in a thrift store. Those vintage Vogue posters didn't find themselves.

 Pretty pieces can still have a purpose. Those baskets hold an array of sins and because of my limited storage space are a necessity.

Always have a place to mix your cocktails. Always.

Books don't always have to go on a shelf or in a closet. No storage for me meant mine went to work as decorative pieces. 

 I'm grateful for this open storage in my kitchen. It meant my love of all things decorative china didn't have to be suppressed. And I use these pieces more than I ever did when they were packed away in a cabinet!

Also don't be afraid to treasure "one man's trash." Don't think that I didn't get lots of weird looks as I picked up these shutters from the side of the road. Some braces and a little protective coating and they are the centerpiece of the bedroom.

 Once again, surround yourself with things that you love. My Dutch roots are all over this tiny space, and I love that.

A weird wall + excessive amounts of framed things = this solution. Don't be afraid to have personality in your space. I love that all of these things surround the dresser my Opa made so many years ago. I don't dare touch it with paint. And yes, Justin Timberlake stares into my soul every night before bed.

 Once again, give decorative things a purpose.

White bedding is the best. OK, let me rephrase that. White, washable bedding is the best. If I told you those stools were $10 a piece at Target would you believe me? Some scrap fabric and gold spray paint were their friends.

Most importantly, give yourself a good view. It's your space no matter how big or how small. I've learned that simple can be better. This is my view every morning and I couldn't love it more.

If you have any source questions or would like info on design/staging services, feel free to email me at! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Show Pics are In!

The show was a success! Thank you to all who came out to see us on Sunday- we were honored to see so many people come out- especially on World Cup Sunday. Both sets of our parents deserve a huge thanks for making cookies and setting up and tearing down and for being our biggest fans and also investing countless hours and dollars scooting us to art lessons and hanging less than amazing art on their walls for so many years (siblings, you rock for coming out too). We wanted a really fun, laid back atmosphere for this show and with "Summer in Memphis" as the theme, it all quickly came together with hot dogs, beer, a popcorn machine, and air conditioning. Yes, AC is the key element to enjoying summer in Memphis, and WKNO kindly provided lots of it. A HUGE shout out to our friends at WKNO- Sally, Terri, Amy, Kacky and so many more who make this an amazing place to be!!!

Show paintings will be hitting our sites in a few days after we take it all down. Be on the lookout!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Headed to ALT Summit!

Image credit                           

I'm headed to Salt Lake City today to ALT Summit! I couldn't be more jazzed. I managed to win a ticket to this awesome event and cannot wait to meet so many wonderful creatives, swap ideas, and hear from two of my favorite people to follow, Martha Stewart and Joy Cho! Can't wait to share what I learn! So I'll be back when the day is new and I'll have more ideas for you, And you'll have things you'll want to talk about. I . will . too...  

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Client Work: "The World is Your Oyster"


Friends are the most fun to paint for! I've known Lindsey since college days where we met in an Anthropology class. Her parents commissioned "The World is Your Oyster" in a 20" x 20" for her birthday and she opened this last weekend. Happy birthday to my sweet friend!!