The Gift of Magnolias

How we covet the first big flowering of the season! An explosion of white against still-gray trees.

“…The whiteness is a gift.
Soft, and slow, it opens
on the limbs. Watch it so.”
The Magnolia, Richard Lambert

Magnolias are among the most primitive flowering plants, dating to 90 million years ago. I like to think of them blossoming among dinosaurs and, millennia later, emperors and ordinary folks in their native Japan. We should have a holiday to celebrate them, or at least a picnic under a canopy of petals.

Tips and Techniques- I must admit that when I started drawing these blooms, I wasn’t sure where this page was headed. Only after I put in a pale background to pop out the flowers, did I realize that I was headed for a more involved negative painting with additional layers of blossoms and paint. So my advice this week is to be open to different ways of handling your subject. Go where the painting tells you to go. Experiment every now and then. Sometimes you’ll end up with a mess. But you’ll just as likely learn something new or end up with a gem.

24 Comments on “The Gift of Magnolias

  1. So lovely Jean…..I could easily see this turned into a lovely fabric print. I love the magnolias, but so many times, at least in my area of north central Ohio, they all get “stung” by a late frost almost before we even get to really enjoy them. A treasure they are for sure!

      • Oh yes….a batik would work great for that! I just saw someone mention somewhere else about a site called Spoonflower where you can have your designs turned into fabric. I took a quick peek a few weeks ago but the fabric is quite pricey, as you might imagine. It wouldn’t be practical, in my opinion, for any kind of small scale operation, but, maybe nice for making a very special gift for someone or something.

  2. So pretty! I love the color you chose for the background. We don’t have them this far north but they are beautiful.

    • Thanks Erica- I didn’t want anything too bright, since the actual backdrop was gray. But I didn’t want a dull color either. I’m glad this color did the trick.

  3. Good advice, to go where the painting takes you! I frequently end up on that path. Oh these magnolias are fabulous – and this page turned out wonderfully with the the negative painting!! (I like doing that especially when I have white flowers to paint….turns out pretty fun & effective). I could just stare at this page for a long, long time! 😀

    • I think that’s the beauty of the sketchbook. When I work on a painting, I always have a plan and then execute it. In my sketchbook, I let serendipity and curiosity lead. I think that’s why I like sketching so much.

    • Hi Marylin- Nice to hear from you. Glad you like the magnolia. I may have to do more in a few weeks when the Northern magnolia bloom. Any Hog Is. plans for you this year?

  4. This is just stunning! I love the blooms at this time of year. My pink one is out just now… I’ve just painted this in my journal. Regards Carmela [image/jpeg]


    • Thanks Carmela– Unfortunately I can’t see your picture– I don’t think you are allowed to upload. But I’m glad you have some blooms to paint. They are lovely.

  5. Marvellous page, painting, poem, advice! And timely! I just saw one of these magnolias blooming in my neighbourhood yesterday. More will be in bloom soon.
    (Daffodils out here too, also quite early).

    • Daffodils out here, too– but I’m finding them hard to paint well. I’m working away at yellow shadows. The magnolias are easier. Enjoy yours– we may get snow later this week!

  6. We have purple magnolia just beginning to take bloom. I paint it every year but always the entire tree. Thanks for the inspiration to look at the individual flower to paint. Hopefully, in a few days the tree will be in full bloom and I can get up close for details.
    Haven’t done a negative painting in a long, long time. When I recently tried….I just somehow couldn’t figure it out and wound up with a mess!
    Thanks for the inspiration to get out there and try again!
    Your work is exceptionally lovely! I appreciate you sharing your art, thoughts and poems with us.

    • It’s easy to get lost in a negative painting. I often have to take a break and come back with fresh eyes to figure it out. This was much simpler, so not too hard. Hope you enjoy lots painting lots of beautiful blooms!

  7. Hello from the suburbs of Philadelphia. Something I’ve noticed is that magnolia blossoms begin to fall from their trees fairly soon after opening. The blossoms create beautiful carpets on lawns.

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