A Cluster of Spiderwort


It turns out a group of spiders is called a”cluster”.  Well, that fits here as well so I used it for my title.  I found this bunch of spiderworts growing tightly together in a native plant garden and really liked how it looked.  I enjoyed painting this, using different shades of blue layered together.  This was a great season for spiderworts.  Whole wet sections of prairies were blue with it!  Just lovely.

Yesterday I took my daughter out to Illinois Beach State Park.  We were looking for stuff to draw, and I was looking for Sand Reed which is the next plant in my pen and ink series.  We had a marvelous adventure.  A tree had come down in a storm~the same storm that bent my hickory tree to the ground on Sunday.  The tree had crushed an end of the boardwalk, obliterating the trail.  Well we couldn’t go under it.  We couldn’t go around it.  We had to climb over it!  She wasn’t that impressed with me for making her do that but later we saw several other intrepid people also clambering over it and that made it a cool adventure.  A young boy saw us sketching and ran up to tell us he and his family had seen two Blandings turtles and a leopard frog.  We high-fived and then he was on his way.  Katie and I filled pages of our sketchbooks with the patterns we found in the plants and pebbles and bark around us.  Sand reed grows alongside switch grass and the two are fairly similar so I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart.  I’d peer at the seeds of one then run back to the other to study its seeds.  Happily the general gestalt of the two is fairly consistent with specific details like the shape of seeds and color and other picky details you find in keys, so I’m satisfied.

Then it was off to the Kenosha harbor to our favorite sandwich shop.  I like to watch the sailboat lessons in progress while I eat my sandwich.  Sometimes we get to see the amphibious cars that live in the neighborhood up there cruise down into the water and out to “sea”. Recently the tall ships were there.  You can get rides on one of them.  Maybe one day I’ll do that.  Ah, summer by the Lake.





Original Painting

24x16" canvas with wide gallery wrap edges, painted orange. Featuring rich blues and greens, with a few touches of red-orange. Painting ships free anywhere in the US.




    1. Hi Jim, Thank you! No, I didn’t. I take it you had trouble getting it to cooperate? I’ll contact the happiness engineers about it. I know how frustrating it is when I visit a site and cannot leave a message.


      1. I had the same problem. A bit confusing. The painting is beautiful. I wish I had more wall space. I can’t ‘do’ plants. I just don’t know where to start. Very envious.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh no, you did? I’ll let them know. Thank you so much, Andrew. You certainly left me in the dust when you turned your attention to moths. The beauty of nature is it seems to be geared specially to each of us and our innate loves. Just last night I was dipping into Rumi and I came across a passage about how a blade of grass or a leaf will each respond to the the wind, each according to the love it was given to have for the wind.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. From what you’ve been saying recently, it seems Illinois Beach State Park has taken quite a pounding this year in more ways than one. I remember it and Kenosha harbor as they were three years ago.

    Down here in central Texas spiderworts are strictly a springtime wildflower. How long do they last in your area?


    1. A particularly beautiful painting. There’s just enough detail in the petals, and the gold in the flower center sparkles. Looking forward to seeing the sand reed drawing, great reading about your adventure with Katie.


    2. Usually spiderworts are done by the end of June but we’ve had surprisingly cool wet weather lately, and I’m seeing some pop back into bloom now. You’re right about Illinois Beach State Park. I’ve seen an awful lot of changes there over the past 23 years. We always knew succession would happen, for example, but it will be sad to see some stretches of plants and their insects disappear forever as the next wave of plants overtake them. Also the hydrology of the site has fluctuated wildly. I’m not sure whether this is caused by human activity or not. I have photos of the beach itself, very wide and flat. Today that beach is gone and the waves are nipping at the foredunes. New sand used to be carried in from the north as the current swept around the lake in a counter-clockwise direction. But groins and rip-rap have stopped the migration of sand, which is certainly part of the problem.


  2. I can’t remember ever seeing such a gathering of spiderworts; they must have been even more impressive in their natural setting. The leaves look quite different from those I see on our spiderworts. I don’t know if they’re a different species, or if that’s artistic interpretation happening. In either case, they’re a lovely complement to the flowers, and add to the sense of flow and movement in the painting, which I really like.


  3. Thank you Linda. Yes, it isn’t usual for them to form such a tight group and that is what caught my eye. The leaves are accurate. The species here is Tradescans ohioensis. Is that the same species you see there?


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