How a Dream Becomes Real Le Mas d’Ariveux

Waking up in Provence I felt as though I was dreaming. Jet lagged I’d slept ’til 6, stepped onto the balcony ~ “I must be in someone else’s life!”

Mas d'Ariveux
The garden at Mas d’Ariveux glowed, sunlight slicing between figs and olives.

The garden below beckoned with aquamarine water and quiet seclusion.

I slipped on a suit and into the pool.

Floating alone, I wondered at the magic that brought me here.

Hollyhocks bobbed their deep fuschia heads above me. Sun-drenched clouds washed the Cerulean sky with light.

Provence Oasis c2013 Dorothy Fagan
Provence Oasis, willow charcoal and alkyd wash on canvas, Order Print>

The first paintings were as dreamy and washed as lavender itself.

A good nights sleep didn’t make my trek to the lavender fields any less dream-like. Expecting vibrant purple filled fields ~ instead I discovered internet photos over saturated. A little past peak, like myself, lavender felt delicate and light.

The fragrance too, wafted in and out of awareness. Like the dream, illusive and uncertain.

Hollyhocks Dream, watercolor
Hollyhock Dreams, watercolor, Order Print>

After 35 years of painting with opaque mediums, Provence inspired my first works in watercolor.  I opted for a pack of postcards and thin washes of paint when the sun proved to be just too hot to paint at the easel with oil paint. Sitting instead at a cafe table waiting for lunch to be served, I stuck the brush in a vase of water and began what was to become my “new direction.”

Respite, c2013 Dorothy Fagan
Respite, willow charcoal and oil wash on canvas, Order Print>

Later in my residency, I began experimenting with washes of oil paint thinned with turpentine. I picked up some willow charcoal and drew back into the wet paint, fusing the two media. By the end of my six week stay, things were feeling a bit more solid.

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Lavender Dream, c2013 Dorothy Fagan
Lavender Dream, willow charcoal, pastel, alkyd wash.

As I added pastels to the mixture of media, the paintings took on a more robust appearance. Controlling the new palette became difficult and winter gave me a time to dial back a few notches and work with earth tones.

The Lavender Farm, oil on canvas c2014 Dorothy fagan
The Lavender Farm, oil on canvas

Painting over top of the winter version, I lit into the palette with fresh spring colors the following spring. It sat for awhile in a half-way state, waiting for me to catch up and wrap my head around all the changes.

The Lavender Farm, oil on canvas c2017 Dorothy fagan
Le Mas d’Ariveux, The Lavender Farm, oil and willow charcoal on canvas, Order Print>

I wouldn’t have known that this painting was part of this collection at all, had it not been for a friend who came by the studio and pulled it out of my stack.

Of course when a painting gets pulled out and put near my easel it gets re-evaluated by my overly critical eye. And that’s exactly how this one got finished one last time. One or two last colours ~ well, I like it much better now.

C’est la vie!

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How a Dream Becomes Real A Prayer for Peace Tuscan Sunrise

I’ve been praying for peace in my life ever since things went crazy. When Mom was ill, I prayed silently with my paint brush.

After she passed, I didn’t really think about it ~ I just kept doing it. This new relationship with the Creator and my easel set my dreams in motion.

Dorothy Fagan painting in Tuscany

My heart melted when I saw the view from my balcony in Tuscany. My easel stayed there day and night, sunrise sunset.

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Tramonto Toscano, oil on panel c2016 Dorothy Fagan
Tramonto Toscano, oil on panel

When the notion of painting in Tuscany first entered my mind ~ it seemed impossible. How could I possibly spend nine weeks away from home, my routine, my family?

I did what I have always done with unanswerable questions. I took them to the easel. This time I used watercolor ~ a more fluid, spontaneous medium. “Tuscan Dream” is my prayer, “is this possible? how?”

Tuscan Dream watercolor, c2015 Dorothy Fagan
Tuscan Dream, watercolor, Purchase>

“Tuscan Sunrise” was the answer I received. I painted it on the balcony of my apartment in Poggio Alla Croce nine months after the watercolor.

Alba Toscana, (Tuscan Sunrise), oil on panel c2015 Dorothy Fagan
Alba Toscana, (Tuscan Sunrise), oil on panel

The vision for “Florence Sunrise” appeared from the balcony six weeks later. Usually the mountain beyond Florence was not visible. It was usually covered in mist. On this morning, sunlight poured into the valley lighting Florence and everything with it.

I started the painting that morning. Illusive at first, the colors changed as I tried to paint them. I finally completed the painting in Virginia the following year.

florence sunrise c2017 Dorothy Fagan
Florence Sunrise, oil on panel, Purchase>

That same year I began painting another view. There’s likely another post about this painting. It went through many versions before finally settling into this one.

What’s really important about it is the house and field on the near mountain at the left. You can see it in the painting above, and in the shadows of the sunset view as well.

Florence Vista, oil on canvas, c2016 Dorothy Fagan
Florence Vista, oil on canvas, Purchase

The reason it’s important is that that same house and field appear in THIS painting, and ALL the others that follow. They were painted BEFORE I went to Tuscany!

Embrace of the Mountain III, oil and charcoal on canvas, c2015 Dorothy Fagan
Embrace of the Mountain III, oil and charcoal on canvas

“Embrace of the Mountain” was painted about three months before I left for Tuscany. In this painting, the house and field are inverted ~ and so is the mountain.

If this painting were a dream, I would say the house represents my consciousness, and the field my garden ~ and the mountain, my immovable issues! Yes, your’re right ~ my house is tiny! And so is my garden. And the mountain dominates the picture.

The fact that it’s inverted in really important. It’s important because that is EXACTLY what I had done with my mountain of issues. I embraced them. I started thinking of them a golden opportunities for wisdom, blessings, and divine guidance.

In other words ~ I started listening!

Every time I stubbed my toe on that great big mountain, I reminded myself that it was the Creator’s way of getting my attention. I retrained myself to stop running away, and just stop and listen for answers.

Waking Dream 3 c2017 Dorothy Fagan
Waking Dream III,  oil and charcoal on canvas, Purchase>

I started noticing things I’d never noticed before. For example, “Waking Dream III” was painted nearly two years after returning. I know I said BEFORE, I did. That’s because this painting was inspired by the pastel below ~ one that I found in my sketchbox from 2012!

Waking Dream II, pastel, c2012 Dorothy Fagan
Waking Dream II, pastel, Purchase

A friend came by the studio and pulled it out. After she’d gone, I noticed it looked like the ones on my easel from Tuscany. That’s what got me inspired to do the mixed media one above it.

I noticed other things too.

the Phoenix, c2017 Dorothy Fagan
The Phoenix, oil on linen panel, Print>  Original>

This one is another good example. “The Phoenix,” I started in France 2013. I repainted it several times in France, and again when I returned home. Then I set it aside thinking I’d never get it right.

Painting the two above, I repainted this one as well. This time I noticed something I’d not seen before. You can see the abstract phoenix shape of the mountain wings, tail feathers poking into the foreground ~ by the shift in colors.

This time the house in centered and the mountains have BECOME wings!

Journey's End c2015 Dorothy Fagan
Journey’s End (Prayer for Peace,) oil and willow charcoal on canvas, Purchase Print>

Also painted the spring BEFORE I left for Tuscany, this one shows the vision ~ of what was to come. The mist, the mountain top vantage point, and the fertile fields.

The two cypress trees at the far left are the “Two Sisters,” a nudge from the Creator about my relationship with my soul sister. But that’s another story.

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Is Cobalt Violet Missing from YOUR Life?

It was missing from mine!

It all began in the lavender fields.

It was four years ago when I went to France to paint them. I had no idea that lavender would have such a powerful force. In fact in Provence, I found the color and fragrance of lavender quite illusive.

Yet it started my dreams cascading

Joys Garden Dorothy Fagan
Joy’s Garden, oil on canvas, 36 x 48″, Click image to shop

Joy’s Garden

Yet here it is. Joy’s Garden is in my studio larger than life. I didn’t know the title of it. I looked on the back of the canvas yesterday to discover I had written it there a year ago.

I’d found the painting rolled up last week, unfinished. I wondered if I would be able to rescue it? That’s when I had the dream about lavender.

fleurs Dorothy Fagan
Fleurs, oil on canvas, 12″ x 9″ Click image to shop

Fleurs

Fleurs was sitting on the chair by the easel begging to have it’s shadows lightened, just a tad. “Great,” I thought, “a small one to test this notion about warm lavender.”

Still sipping my coffee, I squeezed out some Rubine Lake and mixed it with Cyclamen. Adjusting it cooler and warmer, I painted it in under the shadows of the leaves. Then suddenly the sky demanded Turquoise.

Wow! It glows!

In the meantime a painting from my Cascading Dreams Series sold. We crated it up and sent it to a new home in California. In the process, other unfinished Cascading Dreams paintings found their way into the studio again.

“mmmmm,” I wondered. “Where is this going? Something must be up.”

Cascading Dreams

Cascading Dreams Dorothy Fagan
Cascading Dreams II, oil on canvas, 36″ x 24″  Click image to shop

Cascading Dreams II was already on the easel. I noticed that same lavender, warm and cool, beginning to show it’s face.  My dream pointed to the warm reddish lavender, Cobalt Violet as it moves into deep cool red.

Danza del Tramonto

Dancing in the Sunset

Danza del Tramonto (Sunset Dance)
Danza del Tramonto (Sunset Dance), oil on canvas, 30″ x 24″  Click image to shop

After testing the color on Fleurs, I put Danza back on the easel. I scraped out layers of paint and sanded the painting down to it’s shadows. Beginning with the deep violet trees in the foreground, I painted in the new color relationships.

Wow! I LOVE the sparkling colors! The deep teals, lush meadow greens, and the warmth and verve feel wonderfully invigorating.

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The Phoenix

dream landscape Dorothy Fagan
The Phoenix, oil on linen, 11″ x 14″  Click image to shop

A small painting I had begun in France was sitting on the chair nearby. I had repainted it several times since returning home. The palette feels so close, yet not quite as grounded.

Airy and light, it feels like flying!

The Villa

The Villa Dorothy Fagan
The Villa, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″  Click image to shop

On the wall above it hung this painting of The Villa. Nearly finished, I felt the same ethereal quality and I could see exactly where the warm reddish lavender needed to go.

How Joy’s Garden Came to Life

I painted it in, the brush dancing in my hand. Like signing my name, the calligraphy felt comfortable and effortless.

How could one color change the world so? I have wished for decades to feel the paint brush as comfortable as my pastels. My dream of oil paintings flowing as fluently as my pastels is real.

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