Rosemary’s November

A work colleague surprised me last week when we stepped outside on a chilly afternoon and she declared, “November is my favorite month.” I was taken aback. In my entire life, I have never heard anyone choose November. We talked about what she liked so much: breathing in cold air, deep blue skies at dusk, quiet, Thanksgiving. Since that conversation, I have gone looking for Rosemary’s November. I’ve walked country roads late in the day, listened to geese overhead, and poked around the margins of weedy wetlands. Here’s what I found, and I send it to you with gratitude for following this blog and sharing your kind comments and thoughtful insights all year long. Here’s to November!

Tips and Techniques- Where to begin? I recommend starting with your sketchbook and a pen or pencil and a walk. Out on the roadside, or on a trail, walk for awhile until your mind stops thinking about what you were just doing or what you need to do or all the other things happening in your life. Walk until you start to become more present and begin to notice what’s around you. Then start looking. Look at the plants, watch for wildlife, see what’s happening. Then pick something that intrigues you and sketch it. I first noticed a single goldenrod gall and then saw about 30 more all around it. That’s how this page began. After you have something on your page, walk and look some more. Keep adding things until your page is full or its too cold and you have to go home. Hopefully, those will happen about the same time and you can retreat with a full page of discoveries.

41 Comments on “Rosemary’s November

  1. Thank you for a new perspective on November!! I always enjoy your sketches. They are beautiful! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. thank you thank you. I walked in the darkness of this morning. in the darkness, I saw the stars. I heard the geese. I enjoyed the stillness. I know how to draw some of these things. I am not sure how to draw stillness. Maybe it doesn’t need drawing. then I came home, opened my email and there was another of your quiet, beautiful, peaceful drawings. You are a treasure in my life. Elaine H. McGann Shenandoah Valley in VA

    • What a lovely note, Elaine. Thank you so much. Walking in the dark brings a whole new layer of stillness, and you’re right, maybe there is no way to really capture that. Enjoy the day. — Jean

  3. What a beautiful post, and such a lovely “gift” to us all. Thank you for the peace you give us.

  4. Thank you for the beauty and blessing of your drawings, paintings and words. God bless you this day and all days. Happy Thanksgiving.

    • Thanks Michele. I was really pleased with how it came about and turned out. I like looking for color beyond in the winter and I was delighted to still find it hidden among the brown and gray.

  5. Ah! November. It is my birth month and right up there with February as my least liked month. So…today I am thankful for you having given me a new perspective. A lovely painting for a rather gloomy morning. Happy Thanksgiving to you, Jean and your family.

    • I know, Dawn– my least favorite is February, too, but it has helped to shift my thinking about November. It does really have some beautiful subtlety to it. Happy Birthday and Thanksgiving. –Jean

  6. Beautiful and thought provoking as usual, brings back memories of playing outside as a child and having the time to see theses things.

    • I wonder if we absorb some of these sights/sounds/senses in childhood and reawaken as adults. It’s sort of easy to get into a mindset of begrudging the growing darkness, the cold, the damp gray days. But a different perspective can really change that. Especially now, I need to find ways to think differently and see with new eyes.

  7. As I read and enjoy your sketching of those small, generally ignored details , I am thankful for the reminder to observe and record in my sketchbook. With my first cup of coffee in the dark early morning of Thanksgiving 2020, my gratitude list is long. Thank you, Jean – Happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Hi Jean,

    I love your posts! They are very inspirational! Your art and lettering are beautiful.

    I am really curious about how you did your chickadee. I find that most of the birds I try to draw don’t sit still long enough for me to get much detail. I’m lucky if I get the shape of their body! Were you able to get all of that detail from your observations or did you have to use a reference photo to add some finishing touches? I have set myself the goal of being able to draw birds in the field to a finished state without a photo reference. I’m wondering how realistic that goal is. For an egret or seagull…maybe. For a chickadee? I don’t see it happening!

    I’d love to hear how it works for you.

    Thanks! Amy

    • Great question Amy. When I was out drawing, I was hearing and seeing chickadees around me, but I didn’t draw this one until I came home and still had a pretty big space to fill on the page. I used a photo reference but tried to sketch it as quickly as I had the other things on the page. Practice helped, as did years of looking at birds. Good luck with your goal — I would think you might achieve it for a chickadee since they often flit off but come back around to similar poses.

  9. Thank you for the gift!

    I’ve come to love November during my life – it’s not my favorite month but who knows what might happen if I live another 10, 20 or even 30 years … 🙂

  10. Thank you Jean for this new perspective on November. I appreciate your mindful approach to nature journaling and I am enjoying this beautiful image up here in snowy western Canada. Just goes to show there is beauty in every season. Happy Thanksgiving!

  11. Gorgeous spread Jean.. your artwork & comments are always inspirational. (I’ve followed you for a few years now but never made a comment on here)
    November is an up & down month in Melbourne.. 33c today & a clear blue sky.. a few days ago it was 18c .. eases us into the heat of summer .. there’s lots of life around this Spring much to sketch & enjoy.

    • I’m sure it’s hard to compare November in the northern and southern hemispheres. It always seems odd that you are getting ready for summer and we are awaiting snow. Thanks for following and leaving a comment!

  12. Walks can always inspire thought and calm. Even on the gloomiest days. Your art cheers me.

  13. I saw geese on my walk this morning…and was thinking about this page! There were three of them in a group, flying overhead….squeaking/honking(?) in time with the flap of their wings! And even though the air was relatively warm for November….it was indeed beautiful! Lots of red berries out there in the woods today, too!

    • Sounds like a good walk, Roxanne! I find it’s important for my mental health to keep going outside and walking during the pandemic. I’m saving some of those red berries for a December page.

      • I’m with you on the mental health benefits…I’ve just ordered a T-shirt that says, “Hike More, Worry Less” !

  14. What a lovely sketch and perspective. I love the addition of the chickadee (I think we need a bird class!). Your roadside sketches remind me of growing up in small-town Upstate NY (Johnson City and Vestal). My sister and I would spend hours in the woods or along the river, collecting treasures from nature. I still miss those times and the easy, and fear free, access we had to wandering outdoors.

  15. So I had to look up “goldenrod gall”. Learned something new. Your painting is lovely, as always. Trying to appreciate November & looking forward to the new year.

  16. That just shows that inspiration can be almost anywhere, as long as we’re alert to receive it. I bet Rosemary’s face lit up when she saw this! Your painting does bring back November in the northeast to me – the Chickadee, the galls that were passed by before but now, without competing foliage, suddenly become interesting sculpture on a stick, and even the Bittersweet, which I used to love seeing in spite of its invasive nature. Marvelous!!

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