Sketching the Infinity of Nature: Queen Anne’s Lace in Pen and Ink

August 16, 2012

Pen-and-ink sketch of Queen Anne’s Lace in my Moleskin journal

“This was a big theme, and one I could confidently do:  the infinite variety of nature. . . . Van Gogh was aware of that, when he said that he had lost the faith of his fathers, but somehow found another in the infinity of nature.  It’s endless.  You see more and more.  When we were first here, the hedgerows seemed a jumble to me.  But then I began to draw them in a little Japanese sketchbook that opened out like a concertina.  J-P was driving, and I’d say ‘Stop!’, and then draw different kinds of grass.  I filled the sketchbook in an hour and a half.  After that, I saw it all more clearly.  After I’d drawn the grasses, I started seeing them.”
— David Hockney, from A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford

Walking amidst a prairie of Queen Anne’s Lace at the Union Bay Natural Area in Seattle

When I was walking the loop trail of the Union Bay Natural Area amidst the Queen Anne’s Lace, I remembered an image of David Hockney’s drawings of hedgerow weeds that I had seen in A Bigger Message: Conversations with David Hockney by Martin Gayford.  So I checked the book out from the library again to refresh my memory.

Pen and ink sketch of Queen Anne’s Lace inspired by David Hockney’s drawings of hedgerow weeds

Now that my watercolor exhibit is up, I plan to go back to sketching and painting in my Moleskin journals, and my first project was capturing the lacy beauty of the Queen Anne’s Lace I saw on my walk.  The variety was amazing.  When I looked more closely, I saw that the little dark spot on the top of the white florets was not an insect, but was one miniature purple flower.  I’d never noticed that before. (Thanks, Wil, for pointing that out!)

One purple floret atop the Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Anne’s lace pierced by a tall grass

The infinite variety of nature


7 Responses to “Sketching the Infinity of Nature: Queen Anne’s Lace in Pen and Ink”

  1. Elisa's Spot Says:

    I’ve heard various stories about the dot.

    Here is one of them:
    “Queen Anne’s Lace is said to have been named after Queen Anne of England, an expert lace maker. English legend tells us that Queen Anne challenged the ladies of the court to a contest to see who could produce a pattern of lace as lovely as the flower of this plant. No one could rival the queen’s handiwork. She however, pricked her finger with a needle and a single drop of blood fell into the lace, that is said to be the dark purple floret in the center of the flower.”


  2. Chris Says:

    I love that story, Elisa! Wonderful photos Rosemary, of our late summer Queen!!

  3. What beautiful sketches. A great example of close observation. I also love QAL. My aunt taught me to pick it and press it–then use it as snowflakes on a Christmas tree.

  4. shoreacres Says:

    I’d never noticed that tiny purple floret, and went first to my authority for all things wildflower – Steve Schwartzman over at Portraits of Wildflowers. I searched his site and couldn’t find a single reference.

    Thus did I learn that the lovely Queen Anne’s lace is considered “a European invasive” – as such, it wouldn’t be on his site, which is limited to native wildflowers.

    So, I gleaned two interesting facts – one, the purple floret, and second, the fact that it’s not a native. It’s still one of my favorites, and I do love your sketches.

  5. […] Sketching the Infinity of Nature: Queen Anne’s Lace in Pen and Ink, August 16, 2012 […]

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