Out of the Cold

Out of the snow and the mud and still-frozen ground, the skunk cabbage emerges each year. I go in search of its hooded flowers in bottomland woods, where it pushes up from the margins of vernal pools and muddy streamside banks. Sketching it each March is almost like a rite of passage, marking the transition from winter to spring. Despite the snow and cold, the great thaw has begun. We have turned a corner.

Tips and Techniques– I had intended to do two sketches of skunk cabbage, one with a brush pen and the other with a fine liner. But after the first page was done, I was too cold to continue. This morning is far colder. So, I went through prior year sketches for comparison, which you can view by scrolling through the gallery above. I prefer the pages with greater subtlety and detail. But I’ll have to wait for a warmer day to sketch outside again.

Sketching the Colors of Spring begins this Thursday, March 23. Watch spring unfold with a heightened awareness of color during this watercolor series focusing on in-depth color exploration, experimentation, and practice. I’m also thrilled to share that I will be returning to Italy this fall with Winslow Art Center for Sketching Nature in the Umbrian Autumn, September 30 through October 7. Come along!

15 Comments on “Out of the Cold

  1. They are all lovely. Should one want to call skunk cabbage “lovely.” ;D I particularly enjoy the comparisons with previous years.
    I must trudge through a field of clay to get to the forest, so today would have been a good day to go looking for it since the top layer (of the field) is probably fairly firm. Alas, too darn cold with the wind and all.
    Great to find your post which really does make the skunk cabbage look lovely.

    • Is is much too cold and windy out there today– although I did make a foray to check on a big nest I found yesterday. And yes, skunk cabbage is lovely, in its own way.

  2. We live just down the street from Cole’s Woods in Glens Falls. This is one of the first signs of spring there. Last year was the first time I attempted painting them but I’ll give it a go again soon. The colors are wonderful and your work is an inspiration Jean. Thank you for the post.

      • It is bitter today but I’ll go see if they are out this week. Thanks for the reminder Jean!

    • Thanks much. I like your sketches– when I tried to sign up for your blog it said my information wasn’t secure. You might want to check that so people are not discouraged from signing up.

      • Thank you!
        Oh drat! I’m not sure how to easily fix that, but if you send me your email, (artbybernadette@gmail.com) I can add your name.

  3. I love your skunk cabbages, and the Thoreau quotations are perfect! So sorry to hear that you lost power! We also just had a three-day outage here.

  4. I like the latest one, AND all the others. The bruh pen seems to lend itself to this subject. Your passion for this plant is obvious in the works. I got very excited when I spotted some last year, now I can’t remember where. 🙂



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