Thursday, May 28, 2020

A May Calendar of Flowers

Springtime is a season of optimism and hope, a testimony to the fact that nothing lasts forever, including winter (and pandemics).

9" x 12", ink & watercolor in an American Journey Journaling Sketchbook with 140 lb. hot-press paper

Every May, when the roadsides here in Pennsylvania are painted with the colors of wild phlox and buttercups, a certain lifting of the spirit happens.

Virginia bluebells, Dutchman's breeches, & red trillium

Lettering was done with a white gel pen + watercolor fill

My eyes, weary of the greys and browns of winter, thrill to the fiery red-orange of flowering quince...

Flowering quince, larkspur, star chickweed, & bleeding heart

and the blush pink of azaleas.

Azalea, columbine, & lilac

Everything feels fresh and new again. It's like I'm seeing it all for the first time.

Wild phlox, blue-eyed Mary, golden ragwort, & pansy

Primrose, Japanese iris, toad shade trillium, creeping phlox, & common fleabane

Flowers are among my favorite things to paint, especially in spring when I'm starved for color. That's why I chose spring flowers as a theme for this monthly calendar sketch I did back in May of 2018. I never got around to posting the finished painting then, but I thought this was the perfect time to share it with you.

Viburnum, dandelion, & pink dogwood

Each day in May, I drew and painted a flower that was blooming that day, wherever I was. I traveled to Boone, North Carolina, that month to teach at Cheap Joe's for a week, and the flowers were blooming earlier there than at home, so I got to enjoy spring twice.

Crimson trumpet honeysuckle, Cornus Kousa dogwood, fuchsia, may apple, & pink dogwood

I sketched flowers from Virginia and West Virginia, too, as well as the ones growing in my yard here in Pennsylvania.

Pansy, yellow violet, buttercup, & rhododendron

This project gave me a wonderful excuse to focus on beauty for an entire month. I spent hours studying the intricacies of thirty-one different flower varieties as I tried to capture the rich color and unique form of each one. These little wonders brought so much happiness into my life as I was painting them, and they still do each time I look at this painting.


After the calendar was finished, I made a flower key on the opposite page in my sketchbook. It shows each flower's name plus the date and where I sketched it.

9" x 12", ink & watercolor in an American Journey Journaling Sketchbook with 140 lb. hot-press paper

I hand-lettered the flower names using a pointed calligraphy nib loaded with watercolor.

These notes are reminders of a day spent with friends sketching wildflowers, an afternoon in my sister's garden in West Virginia, a trip with my mom to Boone, and days here at home where I'm surrounded by spring-blooming shrubs and trees, perennials, and wildflowers growing right outside my door.


A calendar sketch offers a great way to capture what's going on in your life on the pages of your sketchbook. I'm planning to start a new one next month - I hope you'll think about joining me. Check out my other calendar pages by clicking on the "Calendar Sketches" link under the "Labels" heading in the column to the right.

I hope you're enjoying a lovely spring in your little corner of the world!

2 comments:

  1. This is all so pretty, Leslie. Reminds me of old fashioned greeting cards. Thanks so much for the tutorials.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Katie Jane. It's one of my favorite sketches.

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