Mertensia virginica (Virginia bluebell)
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Painting by Esther Carpi
The beautiful ephemeral Virginia bluebell has always been a favorite of mine as it pops up early and is so lovely to look at while working in the garden in the early spring. I used a layering technique, first starting with a grey base tone to establish the shape and contour of the plant, then adding color. I purposely left one leaf “uncolored” to show how this technique works as a foundation for the finished plant portrait.
Native Americans used it in their treatment of whooping cough and tuberculosis, and employed its roots either alone or in combination as a treatment for venereal disease and as an antidote for poisons. (www.cpa.msu.edu/beal) In folk-medicine bluebells were used to create a general tonic for improving the health of people who were not feeling well without any specific symptoms. (www.stolaf.edu). Today, the plant is not considered to have any medicinal value.