Wednesday, June 20, 2018


6/17/18 Kousa dogwood, Maple Leaf neighborhood

All my local friends concur: The dogwood blossoms this year are extraordinary! Unlike cherry blossoms, which I actively seek each spring, dogwoods aren’t really on my radar. Some years I barely noticed them; other years, I have noticed them blooming, but their pale yellow-green blossoms are so close to white that I shied away from trying to sketch them (sketching anything that’s mostly white is daunting).

A couple of weeks ago, however, I started noticing several dogwoods right on my own street, and they seemed to be more fully in blossom than I have ever seen them. I made a point of looking for more dogwoods around town, and they are like that everywhere – heavy with yellow-white quatrefoils. Though still stumped about how I would sketch them, I could resist no longer.

First, I went out to sketch a single blossom to see if I could at least get the hue right. (I don’t think I did; the actual flowers are paler still, but I was afraid they’d barely show up on the page or in a scanned image if I made them any lighter.) A few days later, I returned to the same tree to sketch it from across the street. As expected, I found it very challenging to capture the huge, dense clusters of blossoms, and even harder to indicate the shadowed undersides of those white clusters. But I’m glad I gave it a shot, because now the dogwoods are on my radar for another seasonal sketching attraction to look for each year.

6/14/18 Kousa dogwood blossom
The variety I am seeing in my ‘hood is the Kousa dogwood.

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