The text and paintings on The Trowbridge Chronicles are taken from the illustrated journal of Violet Trowbridge, a shrew that once lived in a village deep in the Olympic Rain Forest. Each new post will represent a portion of Mrs. Trowbridge’s journal.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Many of Mrs. Trowbridge's pages were devoted to the legends and lore of the rain forest.

You may have noticed that the painting on this page has a more painterly appearance than Mrs. T's usual watercolor renderings. Though Mrs. T preferred watercolor, occasionally she painted with an oil-based medium, made from the seed of the Sitka valerian plant. She ground her own pigments using raw materials that she gathered in the forest. This painting represents her oil painting technique.

As you might imagine, Mrs. Trowbridge was very nervous sketching a Log Ogre's den in plein air, so she very quickly layed out her subject with her fir needle charcoal stick, then returned to her studio cottage to apply the color. She was able to use her expert knowledge of the forest and its hues to apply the colors from memory.

The fern on top of the nurse log is a deer fern (Blechnum splicant), the white plant to the right of the log is an Indian Pipe (Monotropa uniflora), and the yellow flowers growing in the moss are the Western buttercup (Ranunculus occidentalis).

Monday, March 20, 2006


I've read and reread this page from Mrs. Trowbridge's journal. It's one of my favorites. I especially love the pages where she writes about her husband. Her love for Woodrow always shines through. I wish I could have watched them Dancing with the Stars... and the full moon on that special night.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006


Mrs. Trowbridge was very traditional. When something new came along, she was reluctant to embrace it. Case in point, the day when a tattoo trend swept through the forest...ladybugs were having their shells repainted, with new designs "tattooed" on. The trend began in the Hoh Rain Forest to the north and spread south to Huckleberry Hollow in the Quinault Rain Forest.

This is the charcoal foundation sketch for Mrs. T's painting. To learn how she made her charcoal sticks, see Cat's Claw.

Mrs. T sketched some of the ladybugs after their shells were tattooed.

One of my most memorable days ever was last summer when I trekked into that place deep in the rain forest where Huckleberry Hollow once was. (See Trowbridge Story) I instantly recognized this moss covered mound from Mrs. T's journal. The resemblance is so striking, I'm reasonably sure that this is the very place where Madam Lucy Ladybug opened her tattoo parlor so many years ago. The fungus growths are called Shelf Fungus (Ganoderma applanatum). The underside has a pleasant scent.

Monday, March 06, 2006


A young butterfly, just out of her chrysalis, creeps carefully down a twig to take her first drink. Gazing at her reflection for the first time, she sighs and says: "Oh, what a beautiful creature you are! If only I were as beautiful as you."

Of all the insects that Mrs. Trowbridge sketched, butterflies were her favorite. She loved to capture the bright colors of their fluttering wings. The butterfly depicted is an Anise Swallowtail, Papilio Zelicaon, native to the Olympic Rain Forest. Below is the text that Mrs. T scribed to accompany her butterfly painting:

Many have asked about Mrs. T's technique and working methods. She never started a watercolor painting without first doing a highly detailed charcoal rendering of the subject first. The charcoal sketch served as a foundation for her painting.