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  • Writer's pictureJen

Wildflower Series Beginnings

Finding wildflowers on my Prairie walks is a real thrill for me. I imagine it’s a bit like a birder feels when they are able to tick a long-sought feathered friend off their bird life list. I feel like I’ve won a prize when I come upon a special flower, like, “I’ve made a rare discovery! Where’s my medal?!” Wildflowers discovered amongst the thick Prairie thatch are a gift that I like to take a moment to appreciate, usually by getting down on the ground and snapping a photo or two, maybe staying a moment to watch the flowers nod in the breeze and observe the insects hanging about, admiring the flowers in their own way. I never pick wildflowers, and prefer intead to allow them to go to seed and propagate - the blooms wouldn’t last if I picked them anyway. When I get back to the studio, I like to reflect on the photos and videos I’ve collected of the flowers and sketch them, trying to capture a little of that moment of discovery.

Here are some previous sketches and studies where I have explored the subject of wildflowers. It's a subject I'll come back to again and again!

With the completion and release of my last series, “Stillness,” about dream-like prairie landscapes in calm and quiet twilight moments, I’ve been craving a bit of a change of scenery in the studio. So, I pulled out some old studies, sketches and photographs of past-sold paintings, and re-ignited my interest in painting wildflowers. Last week, to begin working on this series, I spent time looking specifically at the Mealy Primrose (Primula incana) and made several sketches and studies on paper. I learned a lot about how I want to proceed with the series during and after making these studies. See the gallery below:

Above: Studies I made last week (March 5-10) of Mealy Primrose.

Beginning first with quick sketches, I immediately remembered that I love drawing in paint! Quick, automatic drawing of these flowers with an emphasis on expressive quality of line really flies my skirt up, and beginning to think it would be nice to make more drawings in this style to accompany the series. Then, to dig a little deeper, I decided to paint the primrose multiple times. Sometimes, when I paint something over and over (and over) again, I make discoveries that act as clues about how the series could proceed. This time, I learned a few things. As always, I love the interplay between transparent and opaque paint. There is a magic luminescence that happens when transparent and opaque paint is applied in layers, and it brings to mind the same magic of my moments discovering wildflowers. Secondly, quickly rendered shapes and expressive lines seem to illustrate, for me, that fleeting moment of admiration before I move on and continue my walk. I especially enjoyed some of the areas where I scored lines into wet paint or squeezed out very thin threads of paint to create energy, texture, and added interest.

Panels and canvases are prepped, and some paints for the series have been pre-mixed. I revisited my wildflower references today and made some sketches of a few other wildflowers. I'm looking forward to continuing my work in this wildflower series. I hope you follow along with me!

Thanks for being here!

- Jen & B

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