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.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry Christmas to All!

I hope you feel the warm glow of Christmas this year. Best wishes for a joyous Christmas and a Happy New Year from Bron Smith and Mrs. Trowbridge.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


I have found great enjoyment in exploring the ancient rain forest through Mrs. Trowbridge's journal entries and paintings. And I have learned much about life among the small creatures in the rain forest by reading her journal and observing her paintings.

I have learned from Mrs. T that the small creatures of the rain forest were highly superstitious.  Much like the early Greeks and Romans, they took their mythical creatures very seriously. In the page below Mrs.T describes the ladybug angels as well as their nemesis, the "black ladybugs". Of course, the rain forest creatures didn't celebrate Christmas as we do, but Mrs. T's above painting, which depicts their pearlescent white ladybug angels, somehow reminded me of the angels that announced the birth of the Christ child.

Have you seen my other blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy? Check it out.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


It all started this past summer. I was on a safari in Morocco, exploring a musty cave in the cliffs above the Draa River, when I stumbled upon something most amazing. There, buried under skull fragments and pottery shards was what appeared to be an ancient manuscript! I brushed the dust from it and carefully unrolled the scroll.

 Indeed, it was a manuscript. My helmet lamp revealed beautifully scribed text, as well as colorful illustrations. The title (translated) read: "The Legend of Shrew Kahn". The art style was distinctively humorous. I didn't know that they had cartoons in ancient times, did you?

I rolled the manuscript into a sheet of burlap, placed it in the boot of my Land Rover, then drove into Marrakesh to have it carbon dated. To my utter amazement, it dated back to the 3rd Century!

Fast forward to three weeks ago. My phone rings unusually early one morning. I try not to sound's the famous movie producer, Jerry Bruckheimer! My mind is racing as he explains to me that he wants to option my Shrew Kahn manuscript for a movie. I'm momentarily distracted by the "ka-ching" of dollar signs ringing in the back of my mind. Hollywood has caught wind of my discovery. Perhaps Mr. Bruckheimer read about it in USA Today or one of the supermarket rags.

He called me back yesterday to inform me that he has signed none other than Brad Pitt to play the lead role of Shrew Kahn! Kiera Knightley will play Kahn's love interest in the film.

I got special permission from Mr. Bruckheimer to release one page of the manuscript to the public as a teaser, and I chose you, my faithful blog audience. This is the special page that I selected because it's a good close-up depiction of Kahn and his faithful robot steed.

So look for The Legend of Shrew Kahn, coming soon to a multiplex near you.

Monday, November 05, 2012


The Albino Piper's Bellflower (Campanula piperi, forma Sovereigniana, forma nova) is the rarest of the rare. Endemic to the Olympic Mountains, only a few dozen plants are known to exist. I just learned that it was discovered in 1940. 

Campanula piperi is undoubtedly one of the rarest wildflowers on earth. Only a few people know where to find this most precious flower. I am privileged to be counted among them. Ironically, thousands of people each year unknowingly pass right by it. Mrs. Trowbridge saw it and sketched it, but even she couldn't fully appreciate it's rarity.

This is quite likely the actual rock where Mrs. T encountered the Albino Piper's Bellflower just shy of 200 years ago, for there is only one other known location of the flower. She wrote that she found it on "a distant mountain in the North Forest". I photographed the flowers pictured above near the summit of Lillian Ridge in the North Olympic Mountains. There were less than two dozen bellflowers growing on this boulder. The photos that I have taken of this flower are among the most prized photos in my Olympic Mountain wildflower collection.

Have you seen my other blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy?

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Also called the Mosquito Hawk, or the Lord of June, dragonflies are among the fastest fliers in the insect kingdom. At a zippy 35 miles per hour, they can give a racehorse a run for its money. When we were kids, we called dragonflies "snake doctors". 

The Green Darner dragonfly (Anax junius), is commonly found in the Olympic Mountains near water. They can be seen darting about the pond from April to September. Male Darners patrol their territory about eight feet off the ground and about eight feet from the pond's edge. The Green Darner is one of 38 species of dragonfly found in the United States. 

When "dragon flight" came to Huckleberry Hollow, a whole new era of rain forest aviation was born. Suddenly, a weekend retreat to the high meadows was within easy reach for the tiny forest creatures. Transporting goods several miles was suddenly entirely possible. Dragonfly Express offices sprang up in villages throughout the rain forest. 

What would become of the simple life and the old ways of the rain forest? This concerned Mrs. Trowbridge more than a little. She mentioned it many times in her journal. Yet she often spoke with fondness of the first dragon flight that she took with her family to the high meadows.

The rocky outcroppings that you see in Mrs. T's painting are where the rarest of the rare wildflowers are to be found. I have many times seen the Piper's Bellflower and the Flett's Violet -- both rare Olympic endemics -- clinging to life in the crevices of pillow lava outcroppings near a summit on many occasions during my Olympic treks into the high country.

I took these two photographs in Royal Basin in the Northern Olympic range. It's a veritable garden spot, with wildflowers blooming everywhere across the meadows.  There are three levels in the basin. We hiked to the uppermost basin and camped here. The rocky outcroppings that you see in the photos are where you will find the rare Olympic endemic flowers that I mentioned above.

Would you like to see my other blog? It looks completely different than the Trowbridge blog. All of the work in my Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy blog is my work. I wouldn't want to confuse my work with Mrs. T's beautiful watercolor journal pages.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Getting Ready for Winter

Fall is now here, and the winter snows will soon be upon us. It seems the summer season was much too short.

Were it not for their lupine seed oil lamps, Mrs. Trowbridge and the citizens of Huckleberry Hollow would have endured the harsh winters in utter darkness. They carried on their busy lives under a deep blanket of snow, traveling about by way of crooked, winding tunnels. All of her winter journal entries, such as the one above, were scribed and painted by candlelight or oil lamp during the long winter months. The small creatures used lupine seed oil  because lupine flowers were plentiful and easy to find. One of their primary late summer tasks was harvesting lupine seeds and crushing them to extract the oil, enough to last all winter long.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Many of Mrs. Trowbridge's pages were devoted to the legends and lore of the rain forest. Many of her paintings of monsters and legends are freeze-framed in my memory.

As you can see from the text in Mrs.Trowbridge's journal page, she was very nervous about sketching a Log Ogre's den en plein air, so she very quickly laid 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 on the moss are the Western buttercup (Ranuncula occidentalis).

Have you seen my other blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy?

Saturday, August 04, 2012


Violet Trowbridge always wanted her husband, Woodrow, to take her dancing, but she could never coax him to step onto a dance floor because he felt he had an incurable case of "two left feet". He had tried dancing once, but instead of swaying on the dance floor he would bounce around clumsily. But after a few dance lessons, Woodrow was ready for Dancing with the Stars.

Mrs. T's painting illustrates the night that she and Woodrow went dancing to celebrate his birthday. She made reservations at the Mushroom Inn, one of the ritziest and most popular restaurants in the village. The rooftop dance floor is always a hot spot on warm summer nights. Woodrow ordered his favorite dish:  Wormini ala Slug Slime in a light pond scum sauce.

After dinner they danced the night away by the light of the silvery summer moon to the tunes of the Queets Cricket Quintet. The scene that Mrs.T depicted above takes place after midnight when most of the guests had gone home. They make a lovely couple, don't you think?

Have you seen my other blog, The Trowbridge Chronicles?

Friday, July 20, 2012


Mrs. Trowbridge was very traditional. When something new came along, she was reluctant to embrace it. Case in point, the time when a tattoo trend swept through the rain forest...ladybugs were having their shells repainted in different colors, 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. The ladybug tattoo parlor that opened in Huckleberry Hollow was called Madam Lucy's Ladybug Tattoo Parlor (above).

One of my fondest rain forest memories ever was the summer of 2005 when I trekked into that place deep in the Quinault Rain Forest where Huckleberry Hollow was once located. I instantly recognized this mossy mound from Mrs. T's journal. The resemblance is so striking, I'm reasonably sure that this is the exact spot where Madam Ladybug opened her tattoo parlor so many years ago. The fungus growths are called shelf fungus (Ganoderma applanatum). The underside of the fungus has a pleasant scent which may carry a distance from the fungus.

Monday, July 09, 2012


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 above is the Anise Swallowtail (Papilio zelicaon) native to the Olympic Rain Forest.

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

Have you seen my other blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy?  There you will be able to follow my progress as I develop my new children's book, Monster Safari.

Saturday, June 30, 2012


We live in condominium complexes...ladybugs live in mushroom colonies on nurse logs. This is where the ladybugs  in Huckleberry Hollow prefer to live. Mrs.Trowbridge captured them with her skillful brush and scribing pen as they sang a forest chorus in five-part harmony. When I want to refresh my spirit, I just open Mrs. T's journal and revisit her charming journal pages.

Visit my other blog at and see my new children's book, Monster Safari, in progress. You'll also find my Day in the Life feature, which describes by word and picture my unique working methods.

Friday, June 22, 2012


Mrs. Trowbridge devoted a lot of space in her journal to explaining and sketching everyday life in Huckleberry Hollow. This is one that I selected to show how the creatures in Huckleberry Hollow led such a simple life. Maybe there's a lesson here for the rest of us. 

Check out my other blog: Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy There you'll see the Little Beasties that I'm drawing  for my new kids book. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Mrs. Trowbridge is a hopeless romantic...never in a hurry, always savoring the moment. In this week's page Woodrow has made an alder chair just for the two lovebirds...or shrews, I should say. It makes a wonderful addition to their rain forest flower garden, don't you think?

Saturday, May 19, 2012


Some of Mrs. Trowbridge's journal pages were quite whimsical. This is such a page. You'll notice that she used a line and wash technique in this painting. It seems quite appropriate at present, since the finale of Dancing With the Stars airs in three days.

Wherever she went, and whatever would cross her sight, Mrs.T would write about it and sketch life as she saw it in the rain forest, In this sketch she captured the dashing Phinneas Toad and his lovely wife and dance partner, Lily Paddington. Every year Phinneas and Lily are the stars of the Frog Hop, a grand even that it attended by hundreds of frogs that hop in from far and wide.

Don't forget to check out my other blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Mrs. Fernwood lives just down the lane from Mrs. Trowbridge. She grows wildflowers and herbs in her garden, then sells them to the market in Huckleberry Hollow. On her way into the village she often stops by Mrs. T's cottage to give her a bag of Cat's Claw, which helps ease grandma's arthritis. 

The flowers growing in Mrs. Fernwood's garden include Douglas spirea, Foxglove, and Olympic Rockmat. The Rockmat are the little white flowers growing in the window box to the right of the door. The Olympic Rockmat are endemic to the Olympic Mountains, found nowhere else on earth. I saw my first Rockmat clinging to life on the summit of Mount Townsend. 

I decided to include a detail (above) from Mrs. T's painting to show you her delicate and subtle brushwork. 

All of the flowers that you see in Mrs. Fernwood's garden can be found in the Olympic Rain Forest, except for many of the herbs that she grew, some of which were native to other areas. I found the Olympic Rockmat that you see below in full bloom on Lillian Ridge, near Obstruction Point.

Check out the Little Beasties at my other blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy.

Saturday, April 21, 2012


This page from Mrs. Trowbridge's journal includes a touch of romance. I was a bit surprised when I first read it. Shrews and pink nighties? Somehow I just can't put the two together. But I'm not a shrew, so what do I know?

Mrs. T liked to paint flowers on the vases in her cottage. Painting flowers seemed to send her into great heights of joy. I put this page under my magnifying glass and identified the flower on the night stand pitcher as an orange honeysuckle. That's a monkey flower on the large vase behind the bed. I wish you could better see the small details.

She usually did a tight pencil drawing, then painted a watercolor wash on top of it. But sometimes she would let her pencil drawing stand alone, as you see in the drawing of her bedroom above.

If you would like to see my other illustration blog, where you'll see my work, not Mrs. Trowbridge's, go to

Saturday, April 07, 2012


Mrs. Trowbridge wrote and sketched many pages in her journal documenting her trips to the sea. She was very vocal about her love for the seashore. On this page she sketched one of the many games that they played on the beach. If you can find a map of the Olympic National Park in Washington State, you can actually follow the route that Mrs. T and her family traveled from Wild Rose Creek, down the Quinault River, across Lake Quinault, to the ocean. Unfortunately, Google Maps doesn't provide an adequate map of that area. Huckleberry Hollow is the village where Mrs. T once lived on Wild Rose Creek, just a short distance upstream from where it meets the Quinault River. 

If you enjoyed The Trowbridge Chronicles, you might like to check out my other art blog, Bron Smith's Flight's of Fantasy.

Saturday, March 31, 2012


And so we return to where it all began...

Here they are...the Trowbridge Chronicles.  After several years of keeping this illustrated journal secretly hidden away in my attic, I have decided to post the pages in bite-size bits over an extended period of time for the whole world to enjoy.  

About five years ago, while on a solo hike in the Quinault Rain Forest in Washington State, USA, I happened upon a tiny gold box on a mossy ledge beside Wild Rose Creek. I placed the box in my back pack and opened it later that evening back home in my studio. I was stunned when I lifted the lid of the box to find a tiny ledger, smaller than a match box. The title on the cover read:  The Trowbridge Chronicles. It was the personal journal of Violet Trowbridge, a tiny Trowbridge shrew who lived over 200 years ago in the Quinault Rain Forest. I was up most of the night reading through the hand-scribed journal pages with a magnifying glass, each illustrated with lovely soft watercolor paintings (as seen below). From reading Mrs. T's journal, I have learned a lot about what life was like in the rain forest village where she once lived with her family so long ago.

I chose this page first because Mrs. T spoke often about how her husband's teas and cakes had so much flavor.  I wish I could have sampled them.  You won't find fiddle fern tea at Starbucks...only in Huckleberry Hollow.

Don't forget to check out my new blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy

Saturday, March 03, 2012


I've always been fond of Mrs. Trowbridge's sunset paintings because they take me back to the many times in the high Olympic Mountains when I have sat on a rock with a companion and watched a glorious sunset. The mountains that you see in Mrs. T's painting may not adequately depict the rugged nature of the Olympic Mountains, but they are, in fact, the most rugged mountains in the continental United States. The high meadows of the Olympics are a glorious wildflower wonderland that has left me with indelible memories to last a lifetime.

It has long been my intention to give you a view of the proximity of the Dungeness Valley where I was born and raised, to Mrs. Trowbridge's mountain realm.This photograph that I took from Blue Mountain in the north Olympics is a good example. It shows the high meadows where Mrs. T once lived, with my hometown  of Sequim, Washington, situated in the Dungeness Valley, and the expansive Straits of Juan de Fuca in the distance. 

Now I have two blogs to keep up with. If you haven't yet seen it, check out my new blog, Bron Smith's Flights of Fantasy. After many years of displaying Mrs. Trowbridge's paintings, now I have the opportunity to display my own work.

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The fluid nature of Mrs. Trowbridge's watercolor paintings were an ideal media to capture the vivid colors of the Quinault Rain Forest where she once lived. Below is the finished painting that she created to memorialize her departed mother. Mother Trowbridge exerted a great influence on her daughter, Violet. It was Mother Trowbridge who taught Violet how to scribe, and to become accomplished in the art of watercolor.

Don't miss the new movie poster on my new blog. This time The Toad takes on the role of Clint Eastwood in Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western, The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. The poster and t-shirt is available for sale on the blog.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Mrs. Trowbridge loved her mother very dearly. She never completely recovered from the grief of losing her mother. It was Mother Trowbridge who taught her the art of calligraphy, as well as drawing and painting. We are indebted to Mother T. for the journal that her daughter, Violet, left for us to enjoy. It has given us a fascinating record of what life was like over 200 years ago in the Quinault Rain Forest.

Below is Mrs. T's sepia tone value study for her painting of her mother's grave site. The next post will be her full color painting. Check back soon for that.

Take an extra moment and check out my new blog and meet Skagway, a larger-than-life toad who stars in blockbuster movies from yesterday and today. You'll see the first Skagway movie poster where Skagway reprises Mel Gibson's role in Road Warrior in a new film called Toad Warrior. 

Coming up next on Bron Smith's Almost Amazing Blog: a send up of Sergio Leone's classic spaghetti western, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Skagway does his own unique rendition of Clint Eastwood in the role of Blondie. I'm still working on the movie poster, but I will be posting it soon.