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!


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

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


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