The world along the roadside

Were it not for relentless deer flies and record-breaking heat, it might not have taken me four days to complete this page. But it is hard to sketch on the roadside under such circumstances, no matter how determined, and so, one flower at a time, the page grew. Still, sometimes it’s good not to rush a painting. It lets things evolve; insights emerge. What started as a simple painting of flowers grew into a recognition of how much of the world is at our very doorstep.
I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes from the naturalist John Burroughs (1837-1921): “The most precious things in life are near at hand, without money and without price. Each of you has the whole wealth of the universe at your very door. All that I ever had, and still have, may be yours by stretching forth your hand and taking it.”

Note: I will be taking a break from posting for the next week or two as I head to Maine to facilitate and teach the Arts & Birding workshop at the Hog Island Audubon Camp. It’s a fully immersive experience for me, and life on an island is better without phones, computers or social media. 

42 Comments on “The world along the roadside

  1. Damn those pesky deer flies! Lovely result with your persistence. Enjoy Hog Island and it’s cool nights and loon songs.

    • Thanks Beth– I can still picture you working on some dead birds under the apple trees. The best! (Well, maybe the live puffins are better, but much harder to paint!)

  2. Jean, you can even make this oppressive weather look beautiful. What a lovely quote! Will miss the posts, but wish you an enjoyable time.

  3. So lovely, Jean…and I did a similar study of our summer roadsides years ago, thank you for reminding me of that experience!

  4. Beautiful pages Jean. I just passed the road down to Hog Island last night after spending the Fourth with friends in Camden harbor and out on Penobscot Bay. I have such wonderful memories of my week at Hog Island taking Art and Birding with you a couple years ago. I learned so much. I am enjoying their online Raptor Rapture course. Hopefully you’ll have cooler weather. Enjoy your time in Maine.

  5. Dear Jean, Thank you so much for this… It reminds me so much of walks on dirt roads along Lake Champlain, in Vermont. Today is my birthday and the illustration couldn’t be more celebratory! Have a great trip to Maine. Best Wishes, Suki Rubin

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. Such a lovely page!
    And wow! would I love to be part of that workshop!! Enjoy!!

  7. As always, Jean, your pages delight and inspire. I’m sure your Audubon Camp will be joyful for you and your students.

  8. We just returned from Maine – and it was fabulous, as always. I love your sketches – I am working on finishing my vacation sketchbook. Have a wonderful time!

  9. I love this spread. Even in high desert Santa Fe, we have some great roadside wild flowers that I see when walking my dog. Since there is no way to stand and sketch with a leash on my arm, I take close-ups with my phone and sketch them when we get home to the garden. That might be a solution for horse flies and high heat as well.

  10. Ah, I LOVE seeing my old friends here! The flora I live with now is different, but for so many years I wandered along roadsides in upstate New York and nearby CT & NJ, admiring the wildflowers. I’m sorry you had to brave the heat and flies (clever to fit those flies in – you won!!), but it’s a beautiful painting. Actually I just posted about my own nearby wildflower finds, along railroad tracks.

  11. I love to think of you on Hog Island. Enjoy the crisp, cool air!

  12. Jean, I love this! I’m doing a talk to a small group of people (no more than 25) in a weeks time about colour – may I use the image from this post to illustrate colour in nature that’s easy to find but often overlooked?

  13. Beautiful sketches Jean – nature never fails to provide us with an abundance of beautiful things to sketch and paint…

  14. I just Love your sketches! I look forward to finding them in my email. Opening these emails are like getting a beautiful hand made card. I’ve been keeping and logging my own nature journals for several years and yours always inspire me to look and take note of the world around us further. (i.e. insects not just butterflies) oh how I wish I could take one of your courses. But since it’s not possible I’ll just have to wait to see what you have in store for us. Enjoy your trip to Maine. We’ll see you when you ‘get back’.

    • Erica- what a sweet note! Thanks!! It always makes me happy if I’ve inspired someone to look a little closer or see something new. I just heard a quote that struck me, “Open your eyes and see all you can, before they close for good.” (A bit morbid, but true.) I will enjoy my island time!

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