Garden Party Fabrics Inspired by a 10 year old Dreamer

Letting it Out!

I feel like a school girl again. That’s when I first block printed and sewed an original design to wear. Painting in Mary Claire’s garden brought it all tumbling back ~ as if I’d hidden it away in the attic and the trap door just couldn’t hold it away any longer!

Garden Party Fabrics

I went home from Mary Claire’s garden party imagining all the women wearing Mary Claire’s garden! Heavenly hydrangea, lovely Periwinkle and Violet, Deep Navy Blue with Meadow Green and sparkly Aquamarine. Scroll work juxtaposed between blossoms, striped parasols, lemonade and peach cake.

Dorothy Fagan fabric designer
Wearing my ‘art on my sleeve, the kimono jacket is created with fabric designed with my painting, “A Lily Pond of My Own!” See more like this>

I went home and painted my heart out! And then I started sewing again. I printed one of my paintings, A Lily Pond of My Own, on a soft comfortable stretch jersey and paired it with some lime faux suede from my stash. The waist-length kimono jacket has short sleeves.

Lessons from a Pro

My granddaughter Fiona came for a few days to sew and paint. Together we painted scarves with fiber-reactive dyes, in Fiona’s favorite colors, turquoise, periwinkle, sky blue, and Paris Green!

hand painted scarf
Fiona had a blast painting with sponge brushes, rollers and stamps.

Fiona brought out the 10-year-old in me! I cut loose on my own hydrangea scarf across the table. The next morning, we rinsed them out and hung them to dry. Fiona wore hers home, with the turquoise and hot pink top she sewed.

hand painted scarf
A designer in the making

Yes, Fiona chose the pattern with the short and long sleeves in pink and turquoise!

I sewed mine into a sheer kimono jacket. I believe she’s a good influence on me, don’t you?

hand painted kimono jacket
One-of-a-Kind Hydrangea Kimono Jacket, Purchase Details

I split my scarf and used it to make the sleeve bands and jacket hem. Then I created a shawl collar from another hand painted, hand woven scarf.

The muse is out of hiding! See more of my one-of-a-kind jackets and tops in my online trunk show.

And stay tuned for the article coming out in the July issue of House & Home magazine!



Who inspires your artistry?  A Garden Party of Colorful Women Inspired Me

Who inspires your artistry?

For me, it’s people who love color. Like beautifully colored moths, we are all drawn to the light.

The invitation to paint at Mary Claire’s garden party was such an attraction. In my mind’s eye I could already see them gathering.

plein air painting in garden
I arrived early to set up my easel and design the painting. When guests began arriving, I had already blocked in the patterns of dark and light.

Arriving about 30 minutes before her guests, members of the Old Ivy Garden Club of Richmond, I set up my easel and staked out a vantage point. I took my wobbly old French easel because I envisioned painting a 24″ x 30″ canvas, too big for my small plein air easel.

Cobalt Blue is the dominant color of Mary Claire’s garden. Flower pots and striped parasols define the space. Cottage garden tables and chairs painted white are covered with comfortable pastel throws. A bright blue tablecloth with lemonade and peach cake laid out the flow of conversation and movement.

Blocking in the deep Cobalt Blues connected the shadow shapes in the foreground with the blue green backdrop of trees.

I like to tone my canvas with gold ochre undertone in the studio. Rather than spending valuable time covering up white canvas on site, lovely warm earth tones peek through my cobalt blue shadows, immediately adding sparks.

As I added a quick indication of the lights, the first group of guests arrived. I stopped to meet them. Several are painters. All avid gardeners to be sure!

Finishing up the on-site work, you can see the shadow shapes in the painting are complete.

When I took the painting back to the studio, I found myself imaging Mary Claire’s hydrangeas wrapped around the women. The striped parasols, peach cake and lemonade, I imagined them wearing all of it! But that’s another story.

It took me two weeks to finish the painting. Adding warm lights, I refined the colors and shapes section by section.

I softened light shadows with pastel colors to open the pathway into the picture.

Warm highlights on on the flowers and leaves popped them foreword, inviting the eye to explore.

Cool toned Hydrangeas frame the picture at the far left.

A few scrolls lead the eye upward and suggest the casual cottage style of the party.

Swirling trees embrace the women, suggesting their graceful nature.

Playful interpretation of stripes of the parasols sets them in motion. One angled right, the other left in a dance to and fro. Vibrant Tangerine accents counterplay the Cobalt Blue, bringing the undertones of the canvas to the surface with sparks of light.

The Garden Party, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″, Prints available>

Oh, and about those fabrics of the hydrangea, parasols and peach cake ~ the article about them will be out soon! Subscribe to receive it in your inbox.




Hydrangea Heaven ~ A Lesson in Accepting Grace

A visit to Mary Claire’s garden feels like heaven, especially as her hydrangea is in full bloom! Intoxicating fragrance from nearby jasmine and gardenia fill the air. I feel as though I’ve died and gone to heaven!

Painting in Mary Claire’s garden embraced me with dreams of living in Monet’s garden!

plein air painting hydrangea garden
The side garden surrounded by hydrangea in full bloom. To the far left, white jasmine and gardenia fill the air with intoxicating perfume.

With so many choices, it was hard to choose just one thing to paint. And I had only small (8×10) canvas panel with me.

I set up my easel facing a blooming calla lily. You can see it to the lower left of the easel in the pic below. Then suddenly turned around to face the hydrangea garden in the late afternoon sunlight.


plein air painting garden
Late afternoon sunlight and deep shadows on Mary Claire’s hydrangea garden

Hydrangea symbolize heartfelt emotions, gratitude for being understood. The word is from Greek for water and vessel. Seems funny how I have longed for my own hydrangeas to bloom, only to have them die of drought for so many years. And now I am painting in a plush garden of them?

Accepting grace (and whimsy) of the Creator is a blessing my younger self was blind to. How wonderful it is to have the vision of a woman who now wears bi-focals!

plein air painting hydrangea garden
turning around, I painted the garden instead of a single bloom.

Back in the studio, I added highlight colors the following day. A few jewel tone shadows as the over=painted teal of the shutters and crimson hydrangea ~ creates sparkle and light in the shadows.

plein air painting hydrangea garden
Hydrangea Heaven, oil, prints available

Mary Claire mentioned she is hosting a garden club visit later next week. She invited me to crash her garden party with my easel! I’ve never painted a live event before … stay tuned to see the painting and pics

Hydrangea Heaven prints are available on my website, as is the original painting. You will find them here>