I always enjoy looking at wildflowers as I hike, but one of my summer favorites is Paintbrush. Here in Alberta the most common variety is the Castilleja miniata (common red paintbrush), but we also see variants running through a range of colours, from pale yellow to orange, into a variety of pinks. They can be seen in bloom starting in June, until well into August. According to the folks at Wild About Flowers, paintbrush are a partial parasite, so they like to grow near well-established plants.

Red Paintbrush
Red Paintbrush, coloured pencil on paper

Other than the obvious reason for an artist to like a flower by that name, I like the way they look like a well-used, splayed paintbrush, enthusiastic little explosions of colour.

Orange Paintbrush
Orange Paintbrush, Inktense on paper
White Paintbrush
White Paintbrush, pastel on paper

I’ve seen them everywhere from roadsides to trails at high elevation, typically in open, sunny areas. But the one hike where I’ve seen the greatest variety of paintbrush colours is along the trail going to Helen Lake, in Banff National Park along the Icefields Parkway. There I saw red, orange, and even some pink and white ones.

Pink Paintbrushes
Pink Paintbrush, pastel on suedeboard

The spiky blooms are also a great challenge to draw and paint. I’ve tried a variety of mediums here, from coloured pencil to Inktense to pastel on suedeboard and velour, which got some really interesting results. Enjoy!

Roadside Paintbrushes
Roadside Paintbrush, pastel on velour paper

If you enjoyed the artwork, some of it is now available for sale on various products on Please follow the link to see what’s available:

2 thoughts on “Paintbrush

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  1. What a nice idea to feature one of our favorite mountain flower, the paintbrush. It is well named as it comes in all those different hues. Lovely examples you painted and colored there. Thank you Linda.


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