I'm sketching wildflowers.

I'm sketching wildflowers.

When you have a forty-minute commute, you spend a lot of time looking at the wildflowers growing by the side of the highway.

Every summer I become entranced by them: the shapes and colors, the way the flowers fade into seedpods as autumn nears.

I decided I had to sketch them. And since the highway isn't an ideal sketching location, I went to Landis Valley. It's a living history museum with a variety of gardens and meadows and pastures. I've taken countless photos there over the years, but I never sat and sketched there until yesterday.

This is the view from where I sat:

The View at Landis Valley

I positioned myself near the horse barn, between the cutting garden and the vegetable garden. I had only been sitting for a few minutes when this barn cat joined me. She seemed happy to have some company.

Barn Cat
Barn Cat at My Feet

I'd love do a plein air landscape, a la Shari Blaukopf or Steven Reddy. But drawing flowers and seedpods seems much more forgiving to this amateur artists. The shape of my stems could be completely off, but who would know? Plants are weird like that.

I sketched for an hour before the heat became unbearable, then went home and added some watercolor and journaling. (That label is from Mary Ann Moss.) I used alizarin crimson, cerulean blue and Windsor lemon as my color palette. It produced some nice purple-greys for the lamb's ear, but I wasn't able to get strong dark values. Maybe some perylene green would have helped.

Finished Sketch from Landis Valley

I took some flowers and seed pods home with me to sketch later.

Money Plant in Black and White

Isn't the money plant lovely? People consider it a weed, but I'm thinking of planting those seed pods in one of my flower beds. There's something magical about them.

Stolen Plants

My mom has several video lessons on how to paint summer flowers in watercolor, including one on painting cone flowers and one on painting queen Anne's lace. I think I'll give them a try for my next watercolor adventure.