When I first decided to do a series of root vegetable paintings, I had no idea that it would take me so long to finish that the greens would have a chance to wilt, die, and then regrow. After choosing the beets and radishes I liked best, I stuck several rejected vegetables in water and set them aside on the back porch. Then the greens died on my working specimens and I couldn’t finish them. Two weeks later, I discovered new green shoots growing on my reserved vegetables and beautiful, delicate rootlets threading into the water. Re-inspired, I have been rooted to my desk ever since, painting beets and radishes and watching lovely greens unfurl.



The stems got a little blown out in the scanner.


Surrounded by beets and radishes.


And one more- quick and loose in the journal (and a little blown out in the scanner).

For more roots see carrots and beets.

30 Comments on “Rooted

  1. I love these, Jean. You have really captured their depth of color and the highlights so wonderfully. Nice in the midst of winter.

    • I just looked at your winter scene, which is really successful. Like it a lot! I saw that you are struggling with winter inspiration– maybe it’s time for some colorful carrots.

  2. You are a marvel Jean. Watercolor is very demanding, and you have mastered it. Well done.

    Mike Young


  3. I just love your work and style – it always lifts my spirits and fills me with hope for my own progress

  4. Hi Jean,
    I love beets! They are so “earthy” and passionate. And it was very fun to see the space where you work. Thank you for sharing that. We will MISS you in the Thacher Nature Center art show!!
    Warmly, Laurel

  5. These are lovely paintings of beets. You’ve painted the leaves to look like they just came fresh from the garden and the green is brilliant. I have seen the leaves on our beets to look very much like what you have painted. They fold and flop whichever way gravity pulls them. I look forward to seeing more botanical paintings from you. It’s not an easy task and takes a long time to complete a painting, as I have experienced.

  6. I’m just tired of telling you how wonderful and free your artwork is! Who knew radishes and beets could be so beautiful. My husband does the shopping so I will have him pick up a bunch of something for me to paint before it gets tossed into the soup! Thanks for posting these lovely sketches, drawings, paintings and stories. Most enjoyable. A treat in my in-box! Happy Valentine’s Day.

    • Thanks so much Carole– and feel free to keep the compliments coming– we can all use more of them! Maybe you should accompany your husband to see what strikes you– I find that choosing my subject is an important part of the process for me. It’s all about the shapes and the trail of roots and gesture of greens. Happy Valentine’s and happy painting!

  7. Gorgeous work – you’ve made the ordinary into a thing of beauty! Love your work.

    • I’m surprised you think it’s tidy! That’s tending toward a mess for me. I scanned and framed some of my favorite sketchbook pages- they make a nice grouping, I think.

  8. Dear Jean,
    I just found your beautiful watercolors after reading sharon santoni’s blog which was accompanied by lovely paintings by a Jean McKay(sp?). I don’t know if you are the same artist- it doesn’t matter- but your message about your mother is very touching. I am a watercolor painter living in Albany and wonder if you still have an upstate NY connection? If you were to offer a lesson or group painting opportunity, I would certainly be interested. And I love the challenge of painting fruits and vegetables.
    Best rehards, Sally

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