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.

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!

Get my Joy’s Garden Exhibition Catalogue>

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.

Join Dorothy Fagan Painting in Tuscany from the Comfort of Home

Tuscan Dream Journal

Watch over Dorothy’s shoulder as she paints the villages and vistas of Tuscany.

plein air painting Tuscany

See her appartamenti south of Florence and what she gets from the bread man each morning.

cooking lessons and dinner partiesMeet chef Danilo for an Italian cooking lesson and enjoy dinner in his private restaurant.

Loro CuifennaExplore nearby villages and see what Dorothy finds to paint.

watercolor jouranlingDiscover Dorothy’s secret inspirations in her watercolor journal.

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