Two Views of the Freya MY OWN BACKYARD

Painting Two Pictures Simultaneously Seemed a Bit Over the Top

But this was an historic moment and the weather was oh so perfect!

I took my easel to the homecoming of the Freya, a steel-hulled sailboat built on Gwynn’s Island by the late Gilbert Klingel. Arriving early on Saturday, I selected two views where she would be visible for a painting.

MY OWN BACKYARD ~ DOROTHY FAGAN
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map of Gwynn's Island
The mouth of the Piankatank River opens into Hills Bay. The Freya would be sailing from Ginny Point in Cobbs Creek, just up river, then through The Narrows into Wharf Creek.

Painting two pictures simultaneously seemed a bit over the top. But this was an historic moment and the weather was perfect. I set up my easel at the edge of Hills Bay and blocked in the seascape. The water was choppy as usual, and green! Light green, dark green, murky and aqua ~ off in the distance the tree line of the mainland melted into the far shore of the Piankatank.

plein air painting sailboats
Block-in for Hills Bay View painting, Freya Homecoming

I choose a high position on the canvas for the horizon. Anticipating the path of the Freya, which would be arriving down river from Ginny Point in Cobbs Creek. Her sails would be up. But not for long as she would soon be passing through the Narrows. A sailboat can’t go through the drawbridge with wind in her sails.

This is true for people too! When we are going through the narrows, crossing bridges as it were, we need to slow down and trim our sails. Expecting speed is all American. So learning patience comes slowly to many of us!

This would be a rare opportunity to paint her in all her glory, sails afurl. I took my time to lay out my plan carefully. Staying focused, I blocked it in, then moved my easel across the road behind the Mathews Maritime Foundation’s boathouse to set up the second painting.

Several views presented good vantage points. To choose the best, I tried standing on the elevated platform behind the boathouse  where I could see the entire harbor, Callis Wharf in the distance. Too much!

I walked out on the pier. Standing half way out, I could see the back side of the draw bridge across Wharf Creek. But still there was a lot of clutter that would distract from the Freya. Not to mention it was in full sun!

Under the shady tree by the picnic table at the edge of the water, foreground grasses and driftwood framed open water where she would pass on her way to the dock. This is the view I selected.

plein air painting sailboats
I selected this view because it framed the water where the Freya would take center stage.

For this second more detailed painting, I choose a larger canvas. Estimating where the Freya would be positioned in the painting, I blocked in the mainland shoreline and scrubbed in warm and cool greens of the shore where I stood. I imagined this circle of greenery as a frame for the white sailboat.

Do you see how the driftwood in the foreground seems to reach out with arms to embrace the view? It almost looks like a person! Every painting is a self portrait in some sense, as to paint it with emotion one must own it.

plein air painting sailboats
I work quickly to block in bold shapes and values with a large brush.

A nice bank of afternoon clouds had moved in over the mainland. I used their warm pinks and lavenders to hug the colors close, framing the top of the painting. The line of wharves behind the drawbridge created a dotted path of light and dark shapes. I decided to use them to lead the eye to center stage.

wharf creek painting
detail view of wharf, dotted darks and lights lead the eye to the center position for the Freya.

As time drew near friends gathered to watch. I stopped painting and walked back across the road to snap a photo as she sailed through Hills Bay with her escort, The Peggy, a buyboat that’s considered to be the Mathews flagship.

A crowd had gathered. Chatting, I enjoyed the excitement. I met new friends and old, so startled that painting had suddenly become social! Stepping out of the studio to paint in a crowd is not a familiar view!

Freya homecoming
The Freya, as she sailed through Hills Bay on June 3, 2017.
plein air painting Mathews VA
Freya Homecoming, oil on canvas, 11′ x 14″ Purchase Info>

Back to the easel … Setting the stage, I intentionally kept my colors mid- and lower value. This helps to establish the composition, while still leaving sufficient latitude to move things around as needed. This strong structure of the painting provides me freedom. Funny, people often think an artist is a free spirit without structure. Not true!

Creative structure is not visible if one is not aware of what to look for. Yet it is that structure that provides creative freedom, serendipitous choice. You can see this structure in the block in, as I have established an integrated structure of mid and dark values, the stage where the star of this painting will shine. This reserves those pops of highlight, deep shadow, and vibrant color for the seemingly serendipitous final touches.

Freya homecoming
The Freya and The Peggy as they enter Wharf Creek.
painting Freya prints
Return of the Freya, oil on canvas, 16″ x 20″ Purchase Info>

Once the Freya and Peggy docked everyone gathered to share the celebration. I’ve never been served champagne at my easel before! Another fresh new view I’ll not soon forget!

Prints of these paintings are available here. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Mathews Maritime Foundation. These original paintings can be seen this summer at “The Pearl and It’s People ~ A Celebration of Mathews” at the Bay School Community Arts Center in Mathews, June 10 ~ August 5, 2017. A reception will be held June 30, 6 – 8 pm

Oh, I almost forgot to mention … one of the old friends, Mary Claire Coster, who’s cottage garden is on the island, stopped by my easel and invited me to come by and paint with her. Knowing I could complete my painting in the studio, freed me to accept her invitation on a whim!

Stay tuned for intoxicating fragrance from her gardenia and jasmine next time! Cheers!

MY OWN BACKYARD ~ DOROTHY FAGAN
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Coming Home to Inspiration for a Life & Artistry

I’ve heard it said that you can never go home again. I don’t know if this is true or not. Last month I went home for the last time. What I discovered made me glow . . .

Can you feel it in this painting?

Each color juxtaposes another, shimmering reflections in the river where I played as a girl. I wish you could see this painting in person. It is three by four feet and glows when you stand beside it.

Reflected Brilliance by Dorothy Fagan
Reflected Brilliance, oil, 36″ x 48″

Coming Home

Revisiting my childhood home in October, I walked trails where I played as a kid.  It really struck me ~ how clearly and distinctly inspiration for my artistry was formulated ~ from a very early age.

I went home to attend a class reunion, though my family no longer lives in the area. It seemed a one-time window of opportunity to visit Mom and Dad’s grave and the graves of both sets of my grandparents. I found myself thinking of a trail where we’d hiked many times, down behind our house on the hill.

Waking up in the hotel Saturday morning, my attention was fixed on coffee and the wooden bridge where Dad and I’d taken a picture on a rock by the stream. Googling Panera, I quickly checked off the first order of business. Remembering that I would need cash for the reunion later in the day, google directed me to my bank.

Indian Lake
Indian Lake

Many roads looked unfamiliar when a sign “Indian Trail” sparked something vague. Around the narrow neighborhood street, Indian Lake appeared in full autumn splendor. Crimson trees reflected in deep ultramarine water, houses nestled closely together. I parked and got out of the car.

The only thing I remember of living in that little cottage on Indian Lake are two photographs. One of me with my sister, in a cardboard box on a sled ~ being pulled across the frozen lake. The other, a photo of me tethered to the tree in the yard ~ so I would not fall in the lake! We moved when I was 3.

Discovering My Vision for Life & Artistry

Visiting the places I walked with my dad, feels like stitching pieces of a quilt together. My new series of paintings, Coming to the River, is that quilt. In my next post, I will show you more of my inspiration for the quilt and how the pieces fit together.

Coming to the River Series
Muses of Tuscany Retreat
Oil Painting Gallery
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DIGITAL BOOK Coming to the River

 

3 Dream Symbols You Should Know

If the world around you were a dream, what symbols would stand out?

Here are 3 dream symbols to get you started interpreting landscapes of the heart.

Marigold oil painting
Marigold, I Love You Buckets, oil, 6″ x 6″

Marigold, I Love You Buckets

The title of this small painting contains all three. Marigolds, buckets, wildflowers ~ so what do they mean?

Wildflowers

Let’s start with the last one first. The first thing I do is break the word into syllables. Wild flowers, or wild flow-ers ~ The first thing that pops to my mind is, “oh, I AM a wild flower!” A new way of seeing myself, I never thought of myself as a flower.

Then I catch myself re-reading the syllables, wild flow-ers, and the question of flowing comes to mind. Do I flow wildly? Am I a flow-er? Are we in the flow together? You get the idea.

Marigold

I had a pre-conceived idea of marigolds from long ago when they were the only flowers I could grow in my garden. So strong in my mind, I hesitated even to paint these at all. Yet I painted them anyway. So what do they mean? Could it mean that I am giving them a second chance? What else am I giving a second chance in life?

Mari -gold. Could Mari be a woman’s name? Could it mean marry? Be wed to an idea? or a way of doing things? What am I married to? Or is it an instruction for my second chance in life?

Gold? What does the color represent to you? Riches? Precious? Sacred? Write your thoughts in the comments below, or join me in a free online class Exploring the Meaning of Wildflowers & Dreams.

Buckets

So what about buckets? Why buckets and not flowerpots? Buck – it? Buck what? What do I really want to buck? Or is it a container??? If it holds love, what are we doing with it? Who is the bucket?

As you can see, interpreting just these three symbols raises more questions than answers. However, it is living with questions like these that moves the flow of inspiration. If one sticks in mind, write it down in a journal. Giving it physical form on the page magnifies the flow of ideas. Write anything else that flows with it.

Wildflowers at the Light House

Explore the Meaning of Wildflowers & Dreams

Wildflowers at the Light House is an interactive Healing Arts Project created to raise awareness and end violence. Join me in sharing wildflowers and sowing seeds of healing. Share this post and spread the seeds. Thank you for your support! ~ Dorothy Fagan


Did you know??…… 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. Statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the Laurel Shelter Hotline at 804-694-5552 or 804-694-5890 to speak with an advocate.
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Laurel Shelter logoThe Laurel Shelter is dedicated to assisting victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. They offer shelter, advocacy, education and support to survivors, legal support, and community education to foster awareness and identification of victims.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.