Spring ephemeral wildflowers are putting on a show right now. It won’t last long. These woodland flowers bloom for a week or two in April and early May when the sun reaches the forest floor. Once the trees fully leaf out, the show will be over until next year. Bottom line: see it if you can. Many of these flowers are tiny, delicate beauties; others are stop-you-in-your-tracks gorgeous. I count white and red trillium in the latter category and was thrilled to see both on a wildflower walk yesterday.

Tips and Techniques– Because many spring ephemerals are white – including bloodroot, Dutchman’s breeches, trillium, cut-leaf toothwort, and mayapples – you’ll need to decide how to highlight them on white paper. A simple shaded drawing may be sufficient. But you could also consider using white gouache on toned paper or painting greenery behind the white flowers. I wanted to take my time with the white trillium, so I sketched the flowers in pencil in the field and then painted them at home using negative painting techniques to build up the layers of leaves surrounding the flowers. It takes time for the each layer of paint to dry, so this is not a good technique to do in the field.

21 Comments on “Showstoppers

  1. Pingback: Showstoppers – Tonya LaLonde

  2. Jean, your work is spectacular. I love looking at your paintings, trying to imagine how you created such ephemeral beauty.

  3. I love your definition of show-stopper, Jean! Your trillium is truly beautiful! Once again, your tips and techniques for how you created white flowers on white paper is great and timely (for me, at least …… as we are having a mega bloom of brilliant white evening primrose throughout the Albuquerque foothills). Thank you again for sharing and coaching us in creating journal pages.

  4. Beautiful trilliums and love your technique of negative space! I did the same in my sketchbook with the Western Trillium blooming now here in the PNW. Trilliums are special to me as I grew up in Ontario, Canada and the trilliums were a white blanket lining the forest floor as far as the eye could see! Trillium is the provincial flower of Ontario! Thanks for sharing.

  5. Oh jean… That’s stunning…. Your little map on the side is amazing! Thank you for the moments of JOY … ❣️ And inspiration ♥️. With gratitude, Kate (in southern oregon)

    Listen: silence isn’t empty…it’s full of answers!


    • Thanks Kate. This was my first time going to this sanctuary, so the map seemed like a nice way to put the place on the page. Happy to put some JOY into the world.

  6. That is really beautiful I love the trillium we have them coming up all over the place after all the rain and now some sun! I love spring when everything wakes up and all the trees are sparkling and clean and the Redwoods bark is stretched way apart with all the rain storage! See you soon-

  7. Truly magical! 


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  8. I love the Trilliums and the way you incorporated the river and map but what really gets me is the list. 😉 Would love to see Bloodroot in bud and Dutchman’s breaches but I know, it all happens so fast. I can barely keep up with it using a camera!

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