World on a String ~ Kite Flying, Family & Plein Air Painting on the Beach Send Me Soaring

Six children, eight kites, a five gallon cooler, four grown-ups & Grammy!

If you notice, I didn’t list Grammy with the grown ups. No mistake!

Painting en plein air with my grandchildren on the beach, I became a kid again.
kites on a beach painting
Let’s Go Fly a Kite, 8″ x 10″ oil, Purchase this painting

Thinking I might capture quick portraits of the kids playing in the water, I hauled my painting gear over the dunes and set up my easel near the water.

Painting on the beach at Bavon
Painting on the beach at Bavon

Instead, 10-year-old Fiona watched me paint her mom and dad side by side with their kites ~ being kids!

I showed her how to block in the colors. Not too serious, simple shapes to make the eye think it is looking at a real kite!

Who knew I was talking to myself?

plein air painting on the beach
Fiona took her turn painting while her dad watches.

Looking at the picture of Fiona painting her ocean of dreams, with her dad watching over her ~ I see myself and my own dad.

Painting with Fiona that day shifted my gears. Somewhere between the paintings, I took my own advice and played with chunks of color.

It happened first as I played with this small painting of the lighthouse. At first I didn’t see the lighthouse. I knew it was there, so I walked down the beach to get a closer look.

New Point Lighthouse painting
New Point Light, oil, Prints Available   Purchase this painting>

Selecting this vantage point, I blocked in chunks of color. At first the lighthouse was light against light clouds. Then I changed angles slightly and began to see it as a shadow shape in front of the light background.

Seeing darks and lights is a lot like seeing the cup half full or half empty. I had become so avert to looking at the dark side of life, it was difficult to see the dark shapes. Light and dark define us. Einstein said everything is relative. And so it is!

Adding the line of dark dune grasses defines the foreground ~ and creates space beyond for us to see the lighthouse.

Does it look like lady liberty to you too? or is it just me?

flying kites on a beach painting
World on a String, 8″ x 10″ oil on canvas, Purchase this Painting>   prints available

I did see the light that day. Without even realizing anything had changed, I painted “World on a String.” While three of the kids flew their kites in the dunes, I played with color.

Simple and to the point. And yet …

It’s taken me a couple weeks to realize the shift in these paintings ~ and in myself. I set them aside and worked on my fabric project. Coming back to them, I feel the utter playfulness and joy I felt that day.

And I realize their exuberance and joy is now mine to treasure for a lifetime!

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.

FAGANgardenParty
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!

FAGANgardenParty
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.

FAGANgardenParty
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.

FAGANgardenParty
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.

FAGANgardenParty
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.

FAGANgardenParty
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!

See the Hand Painted Scarves & Jackets>

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>