Oh, how beautiful

Rudyard Kipling was so right when he wrote, “Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade.” Except in this particular garden, that’s exactly what I did. With the sun casting a warm golden light at the close of the day, I sat in the shadow of a large maple tree and surveyed a lovely field of grasses and allium. I had no hand in their planting or care. The only finger I lifted was the one that carried lines and watercolor across this page. An unknown cadre of volunteers made this garden at a local park into a thing of beauty, and they deserve all the credit.

Tips and Techniques– I’ve been thinking a lot about the different ways sketching can help us deepen our understanding and appreciation of nature. Doing a traditional field sketch and recording facts and data is one approach. Another is exploring the poetry of nature. This type of sketch tends to be more evocative, getting at the essence of our subject. I often go looking for what poets have to say and, as with my sketch of alliums, I add part or all of a poem, quote, or phrase to the page. If you keep a nature journal, try a variety of ways to express what you are trying to convey. Our subjects are so much more than a collection of facts.

45 Comments on “Oh, how beautiful

  1. Oh, my, that’s just indescribably lovely. I could look at it all day.

  2. I await as patiently as I can for each of your drawings/paintings. You offer such beauty and joy. today I want to thank you for introducing me to Liza Gylienhaal. I live in western VA, living amidst fields and mountains and along a very busy highway. I await the offerings of you and others to help me age with some contentment. thank you so much for sharing your gifts.

    • Hi Elaine- What a sweet thing to say. I’m glad to bring you some joy and beauty, which from your description and what I know of western VA, is all around you. Thank you for your gratitude. — Jean

  3. I love your use of negative space to define the stems. Did you paint around them or scrub them out after painting the darker green.?

    • Hi Chris- I painted around the stems. I wanted the grasses to be somewhat abstract, except for the allium stems, which I made sure to save. They are quite light.

  4. Everything, every little thing about your post, caused me to fall in love with nature in an entirely refreshing way. Your paintings are always inspiring Jean, but the reminder to enjoy what’s there without all the numbers, measurements, binomial nomenclature…. ahhh. I feel free just to explore the essence of the subject. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Oh, how beautiful indeed! The words, the drawing, the painting. Truly a delight!
    I do look forward to your blog posts very much!

  6. So pretty. I love the idea of pairing a nature art journal with a quote and really do need to try and draw in the open as soon as they weather brightens up 🙂

  7. Beautiful JeanReally like how have given theFlower it’s fullness with your brush strokesSent from my Galaxy

  8. I too await your journal entries of delicate blooms and your words accompanying. You put a great deal of thought into each work of your hand. I’ve always loved poetry but never thought to add it to my art. You’ve inspired me….again!

    • Thanks Bernadette. I often think about not only what I’m painting but why. Sometimes, I’m learning and want information, sometimes I’m inspired and want to express that. Stay inspired!

  9. This is truly lovely. I can feel the warmth of the sun and almost hear the buzzing of insects. I do so admire how you have painted the flower heads, I always struggle with that sort of thing i.e dandelion clocks. This describes them perfectly.

    • Hi Mair- With flowers that have lots of smaller florets, I like to sketch a few so that I understand the structure and have enough information to inform the painting, but then left the paint suggest much the rest. If you try to draw too much you kill the flower.

    • Thanks Lynn. This is one of those somewhat rare pages that I could “see” right from the start. I knew how I wanted to approach it and things went according to plan. A nice treat!

  10. I love that you add prose and verse to your journal. I do too. Im always on the lookout for new additions. This page is gorgeous. The cors are so spring. Thank you for adding color to my day.

    • I think a quote or poem can add so much, don’t you? I collect some, but often go looking to see what others have to say about the same subject. It’s fascinating to get differing perspectives– or to hear someone else bring words to my own.

  11. That’s exactly what I say every time I open your email! “Oh, how beautiful!” I had one solitary allium bloom this year — perhaps the squirrels got the rest!

    • Nice to hear from you Lisa. I have never planted alliums, but I plan to find a spot for them in my gardens and open fields. I’ll be digging a lot of holes in the fall.

  12. Pingback: Alliums in the rain | Shari Blaukopf's Sketchbook

  13. Greetings, I am a new fan from Vermont. Your watercolors are luminous. I am so glad to discover you. Are your lines and lettering made with a fine nib pen? Can you share the make?

    • Hi Ashley- I use a Micron 02 and 005 black pen for most of my work. I use the same for the lettering, though I experimented here with a nib pen with purple ink– it was just a cheap fountain pen. It didn’t work as smoothly as I like, so I wouldn’t recommend it. Feel free to ask questions or leave a comment any time.

  14. SO much to enjoy and admire in this spread. Just wow.

  15. That is one of the loveliest nature pages I have ever seen – just beautiful!

  16. I wish I had stopped since I did pass by the park and was amazed to see what all those volunteers had accomplished. I do have my own Allium and happily when I moved them to a different place, they produced many more blooms this year. I like the addition of the forget-me-nots in this painting. I don’t know if others read the comments, but thanks to your replies, I learned something about painting. You said that you draw some flower parts and then “suggest” with the rest as to not ruin the flower. So…thanks and by the way, I like the new web design too.

    • Thanks Dawn. I’m glad you got a look at the real thing. I suspect there will be good things blooming there all summer. I thought the forgetmenots would bring in just a touch of a different color and suggest that there are other things starting to bloom there too. I’m glad you found the flower comment helpful.

  17. This is so lovely! I love how you painted the round shape & color of the Allium and drew in a few strokes for the hint of the petal shapes. Great technique! I loved the poem, it compliments your page so beautifully! Thank you for sharing and brightening my day!

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