Month: July 2015

Watercolor Inspiration – JMW Turner

When I was in college, I was fortunate enough to be able to do a semester abroad and I chose to go to the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. I didn’t do much traveling while there, but I did get to go to London a couple of times – more like three – and in each and every one of those visits, I spent days and days in museums.

Did you know that National Museums in the UK are free to visitors? I think it’s because they are owned by the State and sponsored by the Department of Culture and subsidized so that both nationals and tourists can enjoy the collections. However, some special exhibits are paid.

I’m a sucker for all things modern, so one of the days I walked the Tate Modern in its entirety and got to see some Rothko upfront. And then (but not at the Tate Modern)… I discovered J.M.W. Turner – not to be confused with William Turner – a Romantic painter, water-colorist and print maker.

His paintings are so intricate and detailed, but at the same time they have a weirdly abstract feel. I fell in love instantly. And his paintings have served as an inspiration for my art ever since, although recently they weren’t really consciously present. I was reminded of him by my teacher when I worked on “The Calm Before the Storm” – which I shared with you already.

This is one of my favorites – Storm Clouds: Sunset with a Pink Sky (1833).

I have been doing some more Googling of his images and I am definitely inspired to work similarly – with a similar color palette at least – in the near future.

Stay tuned for more Turner-inspired work. In the meantime, check out my Instagram account to see the two small paintings I worked on today.

If you would like to purchase some of my art, visit my Etsy shop!

Source: Art Observed.


Sneak Peak

Earlier this week, husband and I had our official pre-closing walk through with the warranty service people from the building company.

We got to see our parking spot and storage unit and, finally, after ONE WHOLE YEAR, our apartment!

It’s beautiful. A little bit smaller than I imagined, but according to my husband, furniture makes space look bigger because of the different levels it generates, visually. Hoping this is true!

Anyway, there are two small disappointments, but I think that in the long run, these things can be changed! For now, I will leave you with a photo of the view, right from the living room.


To the left, we have the balcony. To the right (that scaffolding) is the North Tower of the same building complex. It is still under construction and will be ready next summer. I don’t mind it a bit.

What do you think?

Photo © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design

The Calm Before the Storm


I worked on this painting sometime in June. I don’t have a specific date and while I was thinking about this post, I vowed to make sure that I write down specific date for each of the pieces I do, just for my own mental peace.

I’ve been using a lot of Payne’s Gray recently (the bluish tone you see) because I’ve been moody, and I think that this color gives me a lot of options when putting it on the paper: it can be very saturated or watered-down, and I looks like it might be different colors.

Payne’s Gray is a bluish-gray color that is, nowadays, created using ultramarine blue and black. It was named after William Payne, an 18th-century watercolor artist.

Fun fact: Because of his novel techniques in drawing and the ease these could be learned, Payne became the most fashionable drawing-master in London at the end of the 18th century. Neat!

I hope you like “The Calm Before the Storm”, watercolor, 22 x 30 in.

If you would like to purchase some of my art, visit my shop!

Proust Questionnaire and a little bit more about myself


Today at work I got an email from my boss with a link to July’s (I think) issue of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire, where Dr. William Foege was mentioned as being Jimmy Carter’s ‘real-life hero.’

So why am I talking about this? Dr. Foege is a board member at the foundation where I work. I haven’t had the opportunity to talk to him a lot in the past year, but I have been able to see Dr. Foege talk and I am just impressed with his humility and his sincere interest and determination to help low income families. Dr. Foege is credited with the eradication of smallpox in the late 1970s and also is described as having played a central role in efforts that greatly increased immunization rates in developing countries in the 1980s.

Basically, this man is a genius! And also, Jimmy Carter’s real-life hero.

This made me think two things: 1) What would it take for me to be Jimmy Carter’s hero in real life? and 2) How would I answer these same questions, asked to Jimmy Carter and hundreds before?

In an attempt to imitate this style and so that you can learn a little bit more about me, I will answer Vanity Fair’s version of the questionnaire, inspired by Jimmy Carter, Dr. Foege and other ‘real-life heroes.’ Here it goes:

Proust Questionnaire: Maria Rigou

What is your idea of perfect happiness? Sitting on the couch, watching a good show with my husband and cat, Benito, or maybe napping.

What is your greatest fear? Dying alone, I guess…

Which historical figure do you most identify with? Carlota de Mexico (born Charlotte of Belgium) for her passion and because she defended and tried to help her husband to the point of insanity.

Which living person do you most admire? My dad, for his determination and perseverance.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? My sensibility.

What is the trait you most deplore in others? Arrogance (I agree with Jimmy Carter on this!)

What is your greatest extravagance? My Louis Vuitton fanaticism (I bought my first and only purse with one year’s worth of savings)


I can’t commit + mood boards


I am having serious problems committing to _______ (fill in the blank with whatever you want: what to have for dinner, what to wear, whether to tie my hair up or leave it down, what furniture to buy… you name it). I can’t commit. I don’t know what is wrong with me. I guess it might be the age? Maybe the late-twenties come with this type of indecision, I don’t know. I’m a newbie at this…

Anyway, my husband and I bought a 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom condo last year, while it was still being built. Definitely committed to that one. Especially since we have not seen the place. Yes, that is true, we have not seen it.

We have a floor plan and an idea of what the finishes might be like, but besides that, we are running on pure imagination. BUT, but, we get to see it, finally, next week! Eek! So excited.

In the meantime, as you know, I have been looking through photos and photos of furniture to hold me over and to inspire me to finally commit to something.

I want to think that I have ‘master’ plans for the master bedroom, but the only thing I have committed to so far is……….. navy walls. We haven’t decided the shade just yet, but we are leaning towards Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy, Hale Navy or Deep Royal, or Sherwin Williams’ Indigo Batik or Naval. More on that soon.

Because of the dark walls we have decided on white furniture- which we already have and are working around – and adding distinct pops of color to brighten the space and make it more ‘us.’ (BTW – I hate the expression ‘us,’ but it works in this case)

Below is Inspiration Option 1 – pops of yellow / mustard / gold

master inspiration1. The whole inspiration for this room was born from the idea of dark navy walls. This color is Benjamin Moore’s Old Navy and I think I like it a little bit, but I want to test color swatches on the wall first so that I decide correctly and don’t have painters regret.

2. This is Ikea Nordli bed frame, in white. Last year when we moved to Seattle from Michigan, we upgraded to a king size bed and I truly truly regret that choice. We sold our bed and mattress earlier this summer and are waiting for the move to purchase a new bed and mattress – this time a queen size. I feel like, visually, a king bed takes up too much space and clutters the room. This bed also has space between the floor and the mattress, something the other was lacking, and will help in matters of visual de-cluttering.

3. Art! In blues and touches of yellow and marigold. The one to the left is Caroline Wright, an Austin-based artist, and the right painting is by Michelle Armas, Atlanta-based (her mother is actually from Argentina!). I already own a print by Michelle Armas that I am in love with.

4. THIS RUG. I love the colors, it’s so fresh and airy. How do you feel about rug-on-rug? Our bedroom is carpeted and while I see the advantages to that, I wish we had hardwood because it’s so much easier to maintain in perpetuity. In the meantime. I’m still going to protect the carpet from stains by laying a rug on it. I like this one. It’s Ikea.

5. I’m loving these dotted sheets from Crate and Barrel. Ever since husband and I moved in together, we have had white sheets. I like that these are a different type of pattern and even though they might be busy for some, they add a little spark to the room, in my head at least…

6. A mirror. Ideally with a gold frame, to tie the room together.

7. We already own this Ikea Hemnes dresser. It is HUGE, let me tell you, but it has been a life saver in terms of space for us. We have – and will have – a regularly sized closet and so the drawers really come in handy for storage of fold-up items like t-shirts, my work clothes, socks; you name it.

8. A white bed spread. We have one we bought last year (a king size one) that I’m pretty sure I could use or tweak (I have a friend that is quite the sewing machine goddess). But white. We like white.

9. More baskets. I especially love these because they are a very rich, nice color and quite space-y. And I already have a couple… Are you sensing a theme here?

Option 2 – pops of magenta / blue / gold

master inspiration2Basically the only things that change here are the accents, in a different color.

4. A nice lamp with a gold base. I might DIY something. Stay tuned.

5. This is a rag rug that I have been eyeing for months now. I didn’t have a place for it, but I think that I might now pull the trigger and go ahead and buy it for our room.

6. Hmong pillows. I saw some on Etsy that I liked. I think the shop is OrientalTribe11.

I want to make this room a perfect combination of masculine and feminine because, after all, it belong to ‘us’ and not just me. I think Option 2 is cutting it really thin and Option 1 might be more on the masculine side, with feminine touches. Nico, my husband, is very involved in the decoration process, so we will see what we can compromise after I show him these boards.

So? Which is best?

Source: Studio McGee. This photo is what inspired me to paint my walls a rich, dark blue with white furniture and accents in gold / brass and natural tones (see the basket planter and tray). I love Studio McGee’s work and have been addicted to their blog since I discovered them a few months back.

Painting(s) of the Week

Update: These two paintings are now up for sale in my Etsy shop.

My painting class is getting ready for a show next month! We are pretty stoked about it, especially because our stuff is going to be up during the whole month of August at Cafe Louvre, in Edmonds (if you are in the area, go visit and check out what we do during the year in Patrick’s class!)

Anyhow. To prepare for this show, I worked on two rather small pieces (5×7 in) that I think turned out really nicely. I’m digging this whole watercolor thing and also getting more and more confident in showing the things I do to other people besides my family…

IMG_2332 IMG_2333

Both pieces (Reflective Lake -left- and Orange -right-) will be available for sale on my shop soon!

Photos © Maria Rigou for Groundhog Design and I apologize for the quality, lighting is bad in my apartment and I haven’t figured it out just yet….

Hallway inspiration + mood board


As we come closer to our moving date, I have started planning out possible and all future furniture purchases for the new place.

We still have to decide what living room furniture we are going to buy (more on that later!), but in the meantime, I have been thinking about what will be visible on the way to the living area.

Once you enter the condo, there is a somewhat long hallway (with closets and storage on both sides) that takes you right into the unit. I want this space to be the first glimpse of my home and I would love it if it is a close representation of what the rest of the condo experience will be.

I fell in love with the CB2 Mill Console Table years ago (maybe it was only a year ago?) but I haven’t been able to get it off my mind, so I planned around it when deciding the tone of the entry way. To the right of the hallway we have a pretty large coat closet, but to the left, there is a blank wall that could be home to this table. The hallway is only a little over three feet wide, so we thought it was important to put furniture in there that wasn’t going to disrupt the foot traffic and that could also serve a function (a place to drop keys and mail when you walk in, for example), so the Mill Console was PERFECT, because it is only 10 inches deep.

So without further ado (further adieu? which one is it?), here is the official inspiration for the condo entry hallway.


1. CB2 Mill Console table. The clean industrial lines, plus the nice and shallow depth are perfect for a busy hallway. And, this is what actually started my whole inspiration and it might be the stepping stone to the whole apartment.
2. A mirror to open things up a little bit, especially since the hallway is on the narrow side. I think this one is from Ikea, but I’m not 100% sure because I can’t really find it online. I like the looks of these and this one.
3. Sedona large tote, from Crate and Barrel, to use as additional storage and it will tie in nicely with the pendant light, and I’m kinda digging the “rustic” look it gives to the whole ensemble.
4. Balouch Persian rug in reds, oranges or navys. I haven’t found one that I love love just yet, but this one could close the deal. No idea where it is from (can anyone guide me in the right direction?) My only thing with rugs is that you have to seem them in the space and live with them for a couple of days, so this might be tricky.
5. A nice sheepskin rug / throw to create a cozy space, maybe draped over the storage basket.
6. Geometric pendant light, because I love the look and I think that it makes a statement when you walk into a home. I always had pendant lights growing up (although my mom’s taste is a little bit more classic – think crystal chandeliers). My only concern with this one is that the ceiling is not as tall, so I might have to buy this one instead.
7. Some abstract art that I will DIY (more on this soon).
8. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl paint. This, I’m not sure and I doubt that it is something I will execute, because… The living area in the condo is just one big nice area that includes hallway – kitchen – dining and living room, and so it is hard to establish what area is what, and I don’t think I’m ready to paint the whole apartment just yet.

So, what do you think?
Sources: 1: Danielle Oakey Interiors 2: MyDomaine

Linked and Loved

A new weekend means we are getting closer to my birthday, my favorite day of the year!

This week’s linked and loved….

1. How fun would this be?

2. Did you know that there is a company that makes slipcovers for your Ikea furniture?

3. Considering this for the living room floor, and bonus! a 75% off sale (CODE: USA75)

4. I’m totally swooning over these, especially since our new place has a decent-sized balcony. I’m looking at you, string lights and tons of pillows!

5. Also, what is the deal with Fiddle Leaf Fig trees? I’m seeing them everywhere and apparently, they are not that high maintenance.

Source: Elle Decor via The Style Files.