About Me

Maryland watercolor artist Rachel Alvarez specializes in maps, landscapes and food illustrations

My Story

Hello, Rachel here. My full-time job is being a stay at home mom to the two most adorable tiny humans on the planet. 

While they're napping, I drink coffee and I paint. 

When our first was 2 I began my journey back into art. I had majored in oil painting and photography in college, but was quickly swept into the corporate world and put my passions on hold. Almost 15 years later, my husband encouraged me to pick up my paint brushes again. Around that same time, our family was visiting a small town close by. We walked into this adorable little bakery and I saw the words "FEATURED ARTIST" on the wall above a display of paintings by a local artist. Nervously, I asked the woman behind the counter how to apply to be a future featured artist. She asked me to email her with a few examples of my work. I did. She responded that she would like to schedule me for the month of December, 3 months away. Little did she know, that the 3 images I sent her in the email represented my entire portfolio. I needed to get to work.  I started working during my son's naps, painting small 6" x 6" oil landscape paintings. A couple of months passed, and I had painted 27 new pieces of work. The show was fun. A few pieces sold that night, and I had successfully built a current portfolio of work. That same month, I opened at Etsy shop working under the name "TheNapTimeArtist". 

A few months later, we found out that we were expecting our second child. I had stopped painting because I didn't like the chemical smell of oil paints in our home. One day I decided that I had to paint something, and while my son was asleep, I grabbed a bag of watercolor paints that had been shoved into a hallway closet. I'd never painted with them before (mostly because I was terrified of their permanence) and so there they sat. My husband had purchased them at a yard sale for $3 earlier that summer, not knowing what they were or having any knowledge of my fear of using them. After a few terrible attempts, I became enamored with the prospect of a new challenge. I decided that day not to throw away any of my mistakes.

Our daughter was born, and by that time I was faithfully painting for at least an hour each day. You could say that it had truly become part of my daily routine. The only challenge was, and is, finding the time to paint. As I mentioned before, this started as a nap time adventure but, as the kids have gotten older, 

I joke that I should change my Etsy shop to "TheRefusingTo NapTimeArtist". 

Now, my painting time comes on the days that they are attending pre-school for a few hours. 

Most of the time I am in my studio, but occasionally I work from the drivers seat of a minivan while they're asleep in their carseats in the back. Out of necessity, I hand crafted a 6 color mini watercolor palette using an old altoids tin and some cut up plastic gerber baby food lids. (It's amazing how compatible art and motherhood are.) You can usually find me with a cup of coffee in my hand and a messy bun in my hair. I love going to live concerts, 

having impromptu dance parties and have a guilty pleasure song list that will probably make you blush. 

Cheese is my favorite food, and I love thrift shopping for vintage clothes and mid century furniture. 


Balancing Motherhood and Art

Being a mother has proven to be my greatest artistic endeavor. Balancing the love of nurturing and protecting our children all day while finding the time to satisfy the need to produce has been quite an interesting challenge. However, it has provided me with a great opportunity for artistic growth. Honestly, before my time crunch, I would spend unlimited amounts of time doling over the same painting. Now, I have 50 minutes. Maybe less, maybe more. The art needs to be right the very first time. The color accurate. The proportion exact. The value correct. I cannot be lazy. I love it.

Read more about my art process and balancing motherhood in a recent newspaper article: here. 

Maryland artist, Rachel Alvarez, specializes in watercolor MD landscapes, fruit & state illustration

My Inspiration

You could say that the love of art is in my bones. Both of my maternal grandparents were highly inspirational to me growing up. My grandfather, an oil painter and art therapist. My grandmother, a master watercolorist.  

The concepts and impetus behind my current work is inspired by my kids. For instance, 2 years ago I completed a "Toddler Snacks" series of watercolor paintings. My (then) 3 year old son chose the subject matter I painted each day and then ate the "props" when I was done painting them. It was a fun collaboration. Things like "ants on a log" and sliced grapes were very specific to his age, and the images resonate with parents and grandparents alike. Simple joys. These are the things I enjoy painting the most.


custom colorful watercolor art and illustrations

This. This is my happy place. You see that desk? It was my grandfather's painting desk- oil drips still on the top. That painting hanging on the wall? One of the pieces that he painted. The easel was made by a very close family friend and artist. To me, art is a way to celebrate relationships.