It’s been a busy few months with the GOLD FIRE MUGS and now the holidays are upon us! Here are a few of my favorite INKTOBER 2018 sketches. You can see the rest of them here.

This challenge was started a few years back by an artist on Instagram. The challenge is to make a sketch with ink once a day during the month of October. There are usually descriptive prompts each day, but I decided to do my own sketches of wildfires and include gold leaf on them!

I really enjoyed creating these. It was great to practice tones, contrast, and composition. Some work better than others. I started to learn which reference photos would make for better ink sketches. Overall, I may be using some of these for future paintings.

Inktober 3

Inktober 3

Inktober 15

Inktober 15

Inktober 17

Inktober 17

Inktober 21

Inktober 21

Inktober 28

Inktober 28

Inktober 29

Inktober 29



GOLD FIRE MUGS--The Collection

We are excited to finally share our entire collection of Gold Fire Mugs with you. These have been a labor of love, dreams, and excitement. It has been wonderful to work together as artists and friends on this collaboration. We can’t thank you enough for your support and excitement over these mugs.

Mercedes LOVES to make mugs. She loves creating functional artwork that is used everyday and part of a well-crafted life. She believes in a slow, nature and earth-inspired lifestyle and strives to share that through her ceramic artwork. 

I love to paint scenes of wildfires, inspired by nature’s process of destruction and renewal. The transformation and power of the landscape is what I love to share in my artwork. My wildfire landscape scenes are symbols of facing our fears and challenges with faith and hope. 

Combining both our love of working with ceramics—taking mud and firing it to create a beautiful and functional piece of art—and the love of what nature offers us in life lessons, we present our first series of Gold Fire Mugs




GOLD FIRE MUGS-- The Process

Hello! We’d like to share the process for our collection of 11 unique Gold Fire Mugs that will be available to my newsletter first on November 15.

Each image has a caption of our process.

These mugs are lovingly created in Mercedes’ studio in NW Florida.


M E R C E D E S + A N N A S T A S H A


7 Things I Learned From A Prescribed Burn

As a wildfire painter, I've been wanting to get real close to a fire in nature. I finally didn't have to chase one down but was invited to witness a prescribed burn here in northwest Florida.

I had the wonderful opportunity to go out with the Florida Forest Service and learn more about what they do and how they do it. I learned a lot of things from witnessing this burn and I'm just sharing 7 thing I learned from a prescribed burn.

1. Fire in Florida is used as a tool, to help manage the land and benefits plants and animals.

2. The same piece of land needs to be burned at least every 5-7 years.

3. Every plant has a different smell when it is burned. Some smell very sweet. 

4. Small green plants and mosses survive these prescribed burns. 

5. Plants and animals benefit from the burn almost immediately. 

6. Even gentle burns, like the one I went to, that don't kick up a lot of smoke are beautiful to witness and learn from. 

7. Humans relationship to the land is important. Without humans managing the land--especially where we live--nature will take care of things and sometimes that means communities and structures can be destroyed by the forces of nature. 

If you have any questions or comments feel free to leave them here or on my video in youtube.


Painting A Live Wildfire--First Time!

Today I am really excited to share with you the results of my first time plein air painting a wildfire! Yes, that means a real life wildfire was burning and I was outside trying to paint it. For years, I've been having dreamy visions in my head of what this would be like: Me, out in a beautiful nature setting, alone, and painting away. Haha! It was not like that. I hadn't taken into consideration many other factors, including having a baby to care for in that moment.
As you may know, I'm currently on my Art and Adventure trip. And it took about one week of me being here in California before I was able to go to see my first California fire in over 10 years! I took my baby with me and my art supplies and headed out to the Pilot Fire in the San Bernardino mountains. I got there within the first 24 hours that it started and was glad I did. That's when the color and shape of the smoke cloud is usually the most dramatic.
My baby and I hung out in our van, had lunch and then I sketched a little before trying to paint. I did a painting inside the van just to see what I could get with a more controlled environment and taking a little more time on it. Here's the result:
This is the finished piece after working on it at home. 

This is the finished piece after working on it at home. 

Then I drove down the road a little ways to a beautiful lookout point. It was a great spot to see the fire next to Silverwood lake. It was there that I tried to paint outside. Wow was that hard! The winds alone made it extremely difficult to paint, probably 20mph+ winds. And then I had a baby strapped to my back to keep him happy but more so he wouldn't get into trouble or hurt. Oh and he's 25lbs. It was a comical scene I'm sure to everyone else at the lookout point, including a news reporter. But in my head I felt like I was rocking it. I was just glad to be there to see the fire and document it myself! Ah!!! 
My paintings totally sucked, I only got the first layer on. Meaning I spent like 10 minutes tops on each one outside. Mostly due to the wind, but also the baby. But hey! I took them back home and finished them up. The first image is what I did at the fire and then after that is what I did at home. The pieces I did of the Pilot Fire are 5x7 inches. 


My in progress plein air study. I know it doesn't look like much. I needed to add a few layers to finish this one up.

My in progress plein air study. I know it doesn't look like much. I needed to add a few layers to finish this one up.

Oh gosh, I absolutely L-O-V-E doing this! Making these paintings out here and watching the fires. I love meeting the firemen and women. I love meeting other by-standers and striking up conversations with them. I love being able to share the other side of a wildfire's story and meaning. So many people I meet say how my work would be cool if fires weren't so destructive. But they don't really let it sink in just WHY I paint these--they are symbols of life and change! 
I just want to thank you for listening to me and following the journey I'm on. I feel so lucky to be out here in the west doing this trip and am so lucky to have friends, fans, and of course my spouse and entire family supporting me in this endeavor. Okay, don't want to get all teary-eyed so I'll leave it at that. THANK YOU!!!! 
Contact me now to purchase any of these pieces.

Painting A California Sunset


As you know, I'm on my Art & Adventure trip! If you don't know what that's about, it's a trip I'm on for the next 2 months. My goal is to reconnect to the western landscape through painting, photographing, and drawing this land that inspires me and is the basis of my artwork. I'm also hoping to catch wildfires within this peak time in the fire season. 

I've been in California now for a week and have already had a chance to go out and paint sunsets 3 times. Yay!!! I'm still tracking and watching wildfires. There currently are no big ones accessible within a 2-3 hour driving radius. So I'm waiting. I've got a few weeks left but I'm sure I'll see some before I leave. The land is extremely dry here in southern California. (And as I'm posting this, I'm actually headed out to catch a wildfire that just started yesterday.)

For now, I just wanted to share a quick little video I did of my first venture out to paint. 

I seriously am in love with the colors, vegetation, and shape of the land. It all feels like home to me. I grew up around all this and it makes my heart happy to be here and be studying this land. And of course being with family has been wonderful. It's taken a small army of friends and family to help support me in this endeavor. If only I could fully explain just how much has gone into this trip, it makes my head spin. I'm feeling lucky to have this opportunity even though my husband and I are on the opposite sides of this big planet.

Thank you for those of you who have helped me get out here. I'm lucky to have someone like you that loves my work and supports my ideas and dreams. I really hope I can make a small difference in this world by inspiring and motiving others to live with faith in hope despite dark and difficult times. 

5 Things I've Learned From Having Thyroid Cancer

It's been 5 years since I was diagnosed with Papillary Thyroid Cancer at the age of 24. Over 20 lymph nodes and my entire thyroid was removed from surgery in August of 2011. There are a lot of things I have learned along the way and in the process of going through that challenge. But today I just share a few things I learned from my experience and a little about my experience. I haven't really shared much about it before with people, but today was a milestone in this cancer journey. Making it 5 years with very little trace of cancer makes my chances of long term survival from this disease very high. 

Art is Personal

This is a post I wrote a few years ago on my old blog. Thought it was worth transferring and sharing. 

Last week while I was painting, a thought came to me. Art is personal.

I thought of how I love to be in museums and galleries, especially quiet and lonely ones. I am delighted when standing in a gallery with no one around but the one security guard. I love the solitude of a gallery all to myself. I love viewing art alone but then discussing it with my husband, family member, friend, or whoever is with me.

“The Starry Night” Vincent van Gogh. One of the pieces that had a large crowd around it at the MoMA in NYC.

“The Starry Night” Vincent van Gogh. One of the pieces that had a large crowd around it at the MoMA in NYC.

I thought about the many museums and exhibits I've been too all over the world. I’ve thought of my experiences where an entire gallery was so packed you couldn’t help but brush up against strangers on your way to the next piece. And then only finding that the one spot you can see the piece is from a weird side angle. The experience of a large crowd around the one famous painting or sculpture trying to take pictures, when all you want to do is actually view and breathe it in. Then there’s the moderate to mildly occupied spaces, which you thank the Lord for when it’s usually full. And then the sparse and vacant museums that really should have more patrons, but due to lack of advertising or interest it sits lonely. With each experience I've had, I find I connect more to art and understand it better when I’m viewing it alone.  

And this is why; it encourages me to think about the art and draw my own ideas and conclusions without distractions from others. Also, one person usually creates a work of art. It was a personal expression and experience for the artist who made the art. I give it sole attention. It’s a human experience to pay strict attention to something someone else created. It’s another human experience to see the collaborative work of many humans. Just like a play or solo dance performance, each has it’s own feel and goal.

Viewing art is an art. Next time you get to stand in front of a masterpiece; stand aloneView alone. Completely block out all surrounding noises and people and focus on that piece. Meditate on the piece and then feel the difference of that experience from what you normally do when observing art.

Slow down when viewing art. After all, works of art take hours, months, years and sometimes a lifetime to create and are made with deep emotions and sacrifice of the artist.

Give art a little more of your time and it will give back to you.


Art & Adventure

Hi! I’m Annastasha, painter and maker. And I have something wonderful to share with you. I’m going on an adventure! I’m calling it my ART & ADVENTURE. 

I’m going to California and then to Utah, from Florida. I’m traveling over 2,000 miles with my baby and two dogs, while my husband is deployed for the next 3 months. I leave in just a couple weeks, and I’m super excited to go on this trip! 

My goals of my trip are; to capture in photograph, sketch, and painting, the western landscape and especially wildfires—because that’s what I paint, as many of you know. 

I want to reconnect with the landscape. I’ve been in the south now for over 6 years. We were not in the south for just 9 months in those six years, but it’s been a long time since I’ve spent extended time back home in California and Utah, where a lot of my inspiration comes from as well as the support of family and friends out there. 

What I’m asking of you today is to help donate towards my trip. I’m going to need money for my gas to get out there. There’s going to be a lot of driving around as I drive to sites and possible wildfires out in the area to capture the inspiration and things that I need to create more of my paintings and understanding of my subject. 

Why I paint wildfires: 

To help bring optimism and hope to people in their lives, especially in their difficult times and remind them they are resilient just like mother nature is. And to draw a parallel between our lives and mother nature. We go through difficult things, and I believe that God gives us difficult things to deal with—most the time those things are not because of our choices—so that we can learn and grow and change. But it’s up to us to figure it out. 

Sometime we don’t understand how we learn and grow and transform until after we have some distance from those difficult times. So, that’s why I paint my wildfires. And a lot of times I paint them from a step back perspective to see a grander picture, to see how colorful and beautiful they are but yet terrifying, or dramatic, or inspiring. 

I really hope to share my message with more people. So if you know other people that would like my work, please share my work and my videos as I make them. I plan to share a lot about my trip; the things I see, think, and write about. 

It’s going to be a struggle. There’s going to be good times, there’s going to be bad times. It’s going to be hard with everything on my plate with a baby, two dogs, and my husband gone, but I really believe I can do it. And I know I can with your support whether through donations or just sharing my work or giving me feedback. Thank you so so much for listening to me today and supporting me in whatever way you can. Thank you!

DONATE HERE!!! Join in this pioneering trip with your pledge of support! I can't wait to share updates of this experience and the artwork I'll be making.