Just an FYI to those who might be thinking about Mustard Seed Mentoring, but you’re on the fence.  We close our doors tonight (Thursday) at midnight, but before we do, we’re offering the opportunity to have a full membership for ONE WEEK for $1.00!  You can snoop around, join us for a live session and see if this group is right for you and your business.

You can get more details about Mustard Seed Mentoring HERE.

When my mom and I traveled to Europe a couple of years ago, I brought all sorts of art supplies and sketchbooks and ended up doing two sketches at the airport.  (Insert eye-roll at self.)   I did keep a journal, but I was so disappointed that I let the fear of not living up to my own expectations get in the way of a dream-come-true experience.  See how that worked?  I was scared of being disappointed and ended up being disappointed anyway!

So, when we went back again last year, I made sure that I took time to sketch and paint.  I kept reminding myself that it wasn’t about the result.  It was about the process and the experience.  It was about pausing, being present and observant, and having a one-of-a-kind souvenir.

So, the very first day, after a long plane ride and a short nap, I sat out on the balcony to enjoy the sounds and smells of Paris, the crisp fall air, and the clear blue sky.  And I wrote in my journal and sketched the neighboring egg-shaped roof.

I remember criticizing myself while I was sketching it, but then scolded myself.  You’re in Paris on a balcony overlooking the Eiffel tower.  Just soak it in and tell that inner negative voice to leave you alone.  You’re not sketching something that’s going to hang in a museum!  It’s for your own enjoyment.  Enjoy it.

And, I tell you what…that helped me embrace my sketchbook and I took time each day to make marks in it.

After our day in Champaign, I painted some of the fields I observed out the car window…

And after a long day romping about the city, I just loosely sketched the clouds as they began to darken in the fading evening light.

The first thing I did after getting settled into Villa Moorings during our Italy leg of the trip was sit on our balcony and sketch.  Our balcony was on the second floor, almost in the middle of the picture.

I propped my feel up and tried to capture the mountain view in watercolors.

I still have so much to learn about watercolors, so I experimented with ink lines, pencil lines, no lines, etc.  This sketchbook can be a place of learning as well as a memento.

I think I like the fine ink lines to give watercolor some structure…

I also used my sketchbook for painting out ideas when we were painting the antique trunk at Casa Cordati…

On another day, since I had already toured the vineyard at Montecarlo, I opted out of the tour and sat on a bench instead to paint the pretty split staircase and shutters.

My very favorite sketches were some charcoal copies I made of Bruno Cordati’s art…

I love his work and this gave me a chance to really study it.

Trips like this can go by so quickly and I feel like time slowed down as I rendered these.  It was just me, my subject, and my pencil or brush.  We were zoomed in and in tune.  Times like that are rare and sweet.

From an artistic perspective, I learned a lot in just these few sketches and it makes me eager to sketch even more.

If you want to read more posts about my trip and the places that inspired these sketches, you can find all of the details in THIS POST.


  1. beverlee lyons

    fantastic! thanks for letting us join you. Your art is really very good!

  2. Debbie Nisson

    I am interested in the one week for $1.00 to see if this would work for me but I can’t figure out how to sign up for it.

  3. Betsy

    Absolutely beautiful! You just keep getting better and better. My dream is to one day own a piece that you’ve painted.

  4. Heather

    Bravo! To stillness, art and silencing the inner critics. 👏🏼👏🏼👏🏼

  5. Tammy

    Love your sketches and paintings. I dream of doing this every trip I take. But always let other things get in the way of that. I hope to do as you did and sketch and paint to my hearts content this trip! What type of water colors do you use?

  6. Lois

    You inspire me to pick up my art supplies and my sketch book again. It has been a while!

  7. Jenn Anderson

    Loved seeing your sketches and paintings! Thanks so much for sharing.

  8. Leslie Collison

    This is time well spent and the it is inspiring to others. Bravo Miss Marion!!

  9. Laura Hale

    I’ve been following your blog for many years and thoroughly enjoy your posts, but today was my all time favorite. Thank you for reminding us not to listen to our worst enemy–our own inner critic. Thank you for sharing the beauty of your travels. But most of all, thank you for sharing from your heart!

  10. Lynn

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is quite timely for me because I just this week am starting to paint with watercolors again after a 20 year hiatus from all art. You reminded me that the point is the process, not the finished results. You also challenged me to start sketching. Thank you again. You bless me regularly with your perspective on life.

  11. Mildred

    Marian, I hope you realize the majority of your readers cannot do what you do with a sketch pad, watercolors, oils and acrylics. Give yourself a break.

    • Marian Parsons

      I appreciate that, but my inner critic doesn’t care about that! It just looks at what I do and tells me it’s not good enough. But, you’re right. I need to show myself grace and tell that inner critic to leave me alone!

  12. Babs

    After almost 40 years I have begun to paint again…taking watercolor lessons from a talented local artist. At first it was quite intimidating as my inner critic was working 24-7. Ten months in I am finally beginning to relax and enjoy it again. Thank you for inspiring me to pick up a paintbrush again…and hushing that voice in my head that says “not good enough.”

  13. Mary

    You are the one that inspired me to start watercolors a few years ago, and I thank you for that Marian! That glorious porcelain mixing palette–can you tell me where to get one? And how did you travel with it without breaking it? I have a history of breaking my porcelain palettes, so I always take an inexpensive little daisy palette when I travel, wrapped up in an old cotton baby diaper that I use for blotting.

    • Marian Parsons

      I actually bought it in Paris at Charvin Arts and it’s a palette I bought for the studio, not to travel with. I do bring along the small daisy palettes and haven’t broken one. I bought a big one in China and brought it home! I just wrap them in a microfiber cloth (that I use for wiping my brush) and I carry it with me in my bag.

  14. Maggie

    In the last photo, is that an eraser with a wooden handle? I am intrigued. I’ve tried searching for one online but cannot find one.

    • Marian Parsons

      It’s actually a lead holder and you can get different colors of lead, graphites, crayons, etc. to fill them.

  15. Krista

    So beautiful! Such talent!

  16. Lyndsey

    I love the two you did of the mountains from your balcony in Italy. Both the one with lines and without. They are so lovely!

  17. Heather Gaume

    Wow, I love that split staircase and your watercolor sketch of it. Don’t you just love the immediacy and freshness of the quick sketches you make while traveling? I am very fond of my Sakura Koi travel watercolor kit. Lost one on the plane home from San Francisco (reminding my self to check ALL the zippers on my carryon!) and immediately ordered a new one. The one with 24 colors is perfect for travel.

  18. Karen B.

    You were the topic of conversation at a dinner party last evening. You have a solid base of fans among my friends and the sketches above are amazing. We all marvel at your artistic talent and adore everything you do.

    • Marian Parsons

      Aw, thank you!


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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