Change the World? Who Me? Yes, You!

Why is it that THE thing you think you aren’t EVER going to do ~ is the ONE thing that will transform EVERYTHING???

I had given this painting up for lost. I’d abandoned her completely!!!

I found her the other day rolled up in a dark corner of my studio. The face of her was black. You heard me right, the center of the painting was painted in such dark colors, you couldn’t see the fields and farms at all.

Joys Garden Dorothy Fagan
Joy’s Garden, oil on canvas, 36″x 48″

No, sorry I don’t have a “before picture.” She was too ugly to photograph.

So why does it make a difference anyway?

When I finished painting her (and that’s another story of it’s own), I couldn’t think of a title. NOPE! Nada.

I tried again the next day. Still Nothing. I was totally blank.

On a whim, I went to the easel and flipped back the corner of the canvas to see if there was a title written there.

I couldn’t believe what was written, in my own handwriting, there it was plain as day staring me in the face ~ Joy’s Garden.”

I had to stop and catch my breath. It took me a couple days to get my bearings. I tried to recall when I had first started the painting. I drew a blank there too. No wonder I’ve had vertigo.

I really only remembered the day I rolled her up and put her away. I had messed up what I thought was a pretty good painting, then blown her off by painting the dark colors. I didn’t think it mattered. You know, who cares?

True Confession

Well, I could say the same about myself. But I won’t! I’m done throwing dark colors around willy nilly. Dark colors are just like that one pencil dot on a clean white piece of paper. We focus on that one spot and waste all the Light in the world trying to erase one small dot.

My mom used to call me “Dot.” “Dotsie,” actually. No one else EVER called me that so don’t get any ideas. I am NOT that spot. Spot’s a dog.

So what got me working on a painting (and a dream) I had thrown away?

A friend came to the studio to pick out some paintings for his house. Looking for perfect paintings for him, this one showed her face. I felt embarrassed to see her and quickly flipped passed her in the pile.

HOWEVER…

After he left I put her up on the easel, turned up the music and squeezed out the paint.

The easel is a pedestal where I can see her in the Light. I can listen with an open mind to what the Creator has to say about her. Sign up for my note about what inspired this painting. It might transform your world too. You’ll never know if you don’t read the story. ummmmm.

There’s a clue in this story about what inspires an artist. Do you see it? Leave your thoughts, guesses, comments. Then subscribe to read the other story and see if you found the clue.

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! Subscribe to receive it in your inbox.