Inspiration for a Painting Commission: Cinque Terre

The rooftops on this painting reminded my clients of living in Cinque Terre!

Oh my! Over the holidays I took on a painting commission. The painting the couple loved best was too small for the place they envisioned hanging it. So we decided to create another painting to fit the space.

abstract landscape painting
Lavender Sunset, 36″ x 24″, oil, See more info>     Prints starting at $35>

Painting commissions are a wonderful collaboration of ideas, inspiration, memories

Once we agreed on the size, creative energy filled us with ideas. My client emailed me three watercolors she’d painted years ago that reminded her of the painting. I am so excited, colors and ideas are spilling out onto other paintings in my studio.

My client’s conversation about the turquoise sea opened by eyes about how to finish an unfinished painting called “Tapestry.”  And when I’d finished it, I could hear it’s new name, “The Watchtower! ”

inspirational art
The Watchtower, Purchase Info>

When I returned from my client’s home, I could see beyond the woven layers of paint. As I painted in the turquoise sea between the massive edifice ~ I saw the watchtower, a stairway to the heavens, a narrow frame of mind as each prayer relays communications heaven and earth.

I like that there is more to this painting than the struggle I was caught in. I had started it when I returned from France four years ago. It feels really nice to know the painting has a good message and is finished. Now it’s ready for a good home.

Prints of both Lavender Sunset, and The Watchtower start at $35. Shop Now>

Call me if you have a place for it in yours!

It’s ALL about Color The most powerful communicator uses no words!

A friend asked me the other day, ‘Why paint in Tuscany?’

It’s all about COLOR! Painting IS color.

Color is emotion. Paint in translucent veils of Watercolors. Paint in pure color pigments of Pastels. Or paint with vibrant, glowing, resonant hues of Oil Paint.

‘There’s plenty of beautiful things to paint in the United States,’ my friend insisted.

So why would an artist paint so far from home in any media?

colorful contemporary oil painting
When Prayers Go Up, Shooting Stars Light the Sky, oil on canvas, 30″ x 24″  Purchase Info>

Painting is color and color is emotion

Yes! Different places have distinctly different, unique color palettes. Painting on the Chesapeake Bay for 15 years, I was all too aware that my palette had become blue/gray/green/brown. I felt it.

Bored by the idea of painting one more coastal landscape, I wondered what to do about it?

Painting in Tuscany, I discovered the warmth and vibrancy of Tuscan Colors and how they reflect the joyous people and culture. MORE than just painting. Learning to see and feel those colors ~ to appreciate the people, see the backroads, take my time and really feel the light and colors.

pastel painting lessons
Waiting for the Stars to Shine, Pastel Memory Painting, 15″ x 12″   Purchase>

Can you see it in the paintings?

I was able to bring the palette home with me! The painting holiday came home with me, and with it a new palette, renewed energy, and a fresh way of seeing the world that uplifts every single day. Can you see it in the art?

It doesn’t matter which media one uses. Even my photographs capture something more.

Chef Danilo makes Tiramisu for our cooking lesson
Chef Danilo makes Tiramisu for our cooking lesson, Photograph
Tuscan landscape painting
Tuscan landscape in autumn is all about color of ripening vineyards, olives, mountains. Photograph

Painting Colors of the Heart in Virginia

Painting in Tuscany forever changed how I see the United States! Coming home the landscape in my own backyard feels colorful, joyful and renewed.

Painting in Tuscany also helped me understand my role as an artist in bringing color and joy to people at home. Now my paintings capture lightheartedness, heart colors, and vibrant energy on each and every canvas.

colorful Tuscan landscape painting
Splendid Memory, Watercolor Landscape, memory painting, 9″ x 12″  PURCHASE>

In any media, painting is color and emotion

It doesn’t matter whether I paint in watercolor, pastel, or oil ~ the palette still reflects the joy I learned to see in the Tuscan people.

Color Painting Holidays in any Media

Now I can teach COLOR right here at home!

Painting on the Chesapeake Bay, the palette is no longer neutral gray green. Come paint with me. Weekend Getaways or a Week-Long Painting Holiday. Or if you prefer, join me in Tuscany this fall.


My Pond, Really!

art cottage retreat
The view from my studio looks out on a woodland pond. I’ve lived here for 18 years, yet just recently begun to paint and interpret the pond.

I used to worry about jumping from one thing to another. Being stretched too thin? Not enough time? I’ve finally just accepted that this is my pond, really!

This issue has followed me for decades. It was not until last year when I returned from Italy that I painted this abstract landscape of the pond outside my studio that things began to change.

Returning from a second retreat in Italy this year, ripples from across the pond lapped at my door.

abstract pond painting
My Pond, Really! Original oil painting on canvas, painted with palette knife, 30″ x 40″

My Pond, Really!

Throughout the year,  I’d been letting myself enjoy a little fiber art, making jackets and scarves from my paintings. I’d resisted thoughts of this for years. I thought it would keep me from doing my serious painting, get me bogged down in sewing projects, things I didn’t have time to do.  So I started very slowly.

I made one thing.  In a while I made something else. Bit by bit, I collected a rack of wearable art in my studio. Friends occasionally stopped by and bought a scarf.  Before I left for Italy last summer, I designed a kimono based on the painting of my pond.

Stir up your creativity, vitality, heart, & mind>

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Studio by the Pond

This Sunday a couple rang my doorbell. I wasn’t expecting anyone. I slid my shoes on and invited them in.

In the studio I showed them paintings, the progressions of subjects and styles. Watercolors from my journals in Tuscany to oil paintings, plein air and studio pieces I’d painted returning home.

We chatted about healing art, how my retreats in France and Italy had inspired me to write and share my art in new ways. I told Jeanette how delighted I felt to meet her, that I understand the Creator attracts kindred souls. I listened as she told me about herself, her dreams of retiring soon.

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When they asked about my hand painted jackets, I pointed to the oil painting on top of the armoire and lifted the kimono off the rack. Explaining how I printed the painting on challis and painted back into it with shimmering fabric paints, then designed the pattern and sewed the jacket ~ I handed it to Jeanette to try on.

dorothy fagan studio
Jeanette and me in the studio ~ Jeanette is wearing the kimono inspired by the painting, “my Pond, Really!” that is displayed on top of the armoire. I am wearing a hand knitted jacket I designed from remnant wools in my stash. No, we didn’t know each other was going to dress in black!




My Pond, Really!

As I saw the colors of the jacket radiating from Jeanette’s hair and face ~ my mind flashed to the moment Sara Tassi adjusted her designer  jacket on my shoulders in her shop Maison 39 in Figline.  She and my friend Antonella insisted I try on a jacket I never would have selected for myself.

Putting it on, suddenly I felt radiant. Flashing forward again, my hands preened and smoothed Jeanette, as Sara and Antonella had done for me.

Italian fashion designer
Sara Tassi, fashion designer and owner of Maison 39 in Figline, Italy and me!

When Jeanette and Brian left the studio, I knew I had changed. I felt different, as though I’d stepped through a magical doorway. Simply expressing the obvious ~ how beautiful her colors looked to me ~ transformed me. And then I received her email.

“Thank you again for yesterday! It was an extraordinary experience that I will treasure ~ like taking a peek into the future,” I could have written her words myself.

She went home wearing her dream of doing kayaking retreats when she retires in June ~ and left me standing at the door in my own pond, really!


To think I questioned the Creator’s urge with my concerns! When all along it was never about time and space at all. If I had not accepted Antonella’s invitation to meet Sara ~ and allowed myself to purchase the jacket she designed … Well

Ripples across the pond . . . we’re all in this pond together!

What are you concerned about doing ~ if only you had the time?

Use the comments to share your story. What would you do if you had time?  Is there someone you know who would be inspired by this story? Don’t be stingy ~ share your thoughts with them!

Stir up your creativity, vitality, heart, & mind>

Wearable Fiber ARt
Wearable Fiber Art Kimono hangs on the wall when she’s not wearing it!

Come by the studio to try one on!