Behind the Scenes Favorite Posts In the Shop

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Paintings Are Now Available

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan

So… yesterday I did a thing…

I pushed through some fear, held my breath, and sent out an L&V love letter to our email subscribers telling them I had made a few original soft pastel paintings available! (Side note: If you don’t already receive L&V love letters you can sign up here. I always like to give email subscribers a little extra plus you’ll get a free download at sign up.) And now, I’m putting it “out there” so to speak, and letting everyone know! Ahhh! What an unexpected adventure this has been.

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan

How it all began…

A few months ago, we were in the midst of full-blown lockdown, which happened to coincide with some personal soul searching I was wrestling with. I felt the urge for a creative outlet to help me express the emotion I was feeling. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love hand lettering and illustrating, but there are times when words just allude me and I need to express my feelings without them. Because of my history with chalk, my mother-in-law, who is an accomplished fine artist, suggested that I look into soft pastels. I dabbled here and there for a few weeks, immensely enjoying myself, but then I discovered the joy of painting landscapes. I was smitten. It’s so different for me, I know, yet I can’t contain the happiness I feel when I’m lost in creating my own little worlds (as Bob Ross would say).

I think landscapes captivate me because I have felt an aching in my heart for the things that are unchanging… countryside, trees, wildflowers, nature. I never stopped loving those things, but over the past several months it has felt much deeper, almost a magnetic longing. I feel as though I need to be there, away from the noise. Maybe you feel the same? I live in the city, so this has been relegated to a few driving trips and my soul feels at home in those times. I’ve also used the opportunity of our drives to snap photos for painting reference material.

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan

A love story…

My love for this medium just continues to deepen! It’s very different than working with chalk actually, but learning something new has been exhilarating and fulfilling. Without expectations, I could just discover and play. Pastels are similar to chalk in that there is nothing standing between my hands and the medium. It’s messy, raw, and real! I can feel the sanded surface, use my hands to create the marks, and deeply connect with the materials. The immediacy of pastels is another draw. I don’t have to mix up any paint, I can just pick them up and get right to work. As a mom who can most often be found painting during naptime, this has been marvelous.

And just a fun tidbit of information if you aren’t familiar with soft pastels (because I wasn’t at all) they are made of pure artist’s pigment that is formed into a stick with a minimum of binder. This is the same pigment used in oil paintings except oil paint is bound together with liquid, which can degrade and yellow over time. Since there is nothing in the pastel to degrade, it remains pure and clean as long as it is protected from sun and water. Amazing.

I could go on and on, but the last thing I will say is just how beautiful they are! Even on a plate, they scream to be photographed! I have so many more brands and colors I can’t wait to explore.

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan

Sharing the paintings with you…

At first, I started exploring a way to offer special prints of the paintings. After several rounds with the printer, though, they just felt lifeless to me. I couldn’t put my finger on what was missing, but the reproductions just didn’t feel right. Maybe it sounds crazy, but I concluded that the originals have an energy and spirit about them. They mean so much to me that I couldn’t bear sending you anything less than that! These are my heart on the page.

Since I’ve never worked in a fine art space before, I’ve spent the last several weeks researching like mad and making sure I know how to get them to you safely. They will be shipped by me out of my home and sent with lots of love & care. There are only a limited number of pieces available for now. On one of our drives, we visited my hometown of Scottdale, PA. I feel like I was able to look at the countryside with fresh eyes and WOW is it ever beautiful! This first round of paintings represents the inspiration of those lush summer fields and wildflowers.

You can see everything available here.

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan
Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan

I will be adding more paintings to this page and will post on Instagram when something new becomes available! It will be my little pet project. 🙂 Also, please do feel free to reach out if you see something I’ve posted that you are interested in and I can let you know if it is available. I’m not sure how it will all develop over time, I just know that painting has become a joyful and therapeutic experience for me and I feel so pulled to share it. What an absolute honor it is to receive interest in the pieces and hear your kind words of encouragement! I am truly overwhelmed!

Original Fine Art Soft Pastel Painting by Valerie McKeehan

See all Original Paintings here.

Please email me if something catches your eye or if you have any questions! I would love to hear from you.


August’s “Wildflowers” Desktop Download

Lately, I’ve been paying close attention to the beautiful Western Pennsylvania landscape – lush, green countrysides dotted with specks of color and whimsy. Wildflowers add such magic to the whole scene! It’s amazing the beauty that is all around us when we stop to…


July’s “Romantic Roses” Desktop Download

Roses. Romantic, soft, frilly roses. When I posted this watercolor painting to Instagram, many of you said it gave you a peaceful and calming feeling. I loved that so much and it made me think why not give that vibe to our screens where…

Behind the Scenes Favorite Posts

The Lily & Val Re-Brand

Here’s a little fun fact you may not know about me: I went to college for marketing and prior to starting Lily & Val, I owned a small, boutique marketing firm with Mak! (Yep, we’ve been business partners for a LONG time.) Much of…

Behind the Scenes

Lily & Val – A New Chapter

This post took me months to write. Actually, in a way, it took years. Years of learning, growing, transforming, and mistake-making (mostly mistake-making as it would seem.) The truth is, last Spring I wanted to quit my business. Some might say I’m not supposed…


Vienna’s “Little Cutie” First Birthday Party

I have a ONE year old! I can’t believe it. This past weekend we celebrated Vienna’s “little cutie” first birthday with a small family gathering in my parent’s backyard  (hooray for Pennsylvania going into green!) and I wanted to share a few of the…


June’s “New Beginnings” Desktop Download

For whatever reason, June has come to represent new beginnings to me. I started Lily & Val 8 years ago on June 6th, the start of a journey I could have never imagined. Another life-altering new chapter happened when my daughter was born last…


May’s “Lilac” Desktop Download

I drew this when the lilacs were first popping up around my neighborhood! They are such a bright spot to see during this quarantine. Is there anything better than the smell of lilacs in the air?! I hope you enjoy this little ode to…

DIY Favorite Posts

Petit Bouquet Floral Wraps – Free Download

What’s better than receiving a cute bouquet of flowers? Receiving a cute bouquet of flowers wrapped in a darling way! I am always a sucker for pretty packaging and I think it makes a big difference, even with flowers. So, with Mother’s Day quickly…

In the Shop

The Lily & Val Quarantine Spring Collection

This print release is definitely different than any other before it as we’re all on shut down orders and quarantined. I thought about maybe skipping a Spring launch altogether, but I felt in my heart I needed to get these designs out there. Drawing…