From a Castle on a Mountain Flows a Fertile Dream

About 20 miles east of Florence, the landscape is a spectacular 360 degree vista of vineyards, olive orchards, and farms. I saw it first two years ago, and I wanted to see it again.

Waking Dream

abstract landscape painting red
Fertile Dream, oil on linen, 14″ x 11″ See purchase info>

Finding the Castle

I didn’t see the castle two years ago. I had no idea it even existed. On this visit we took time to have lunch in the lovely restaurant overlooking the spectacular view. It was a conversation with our server that tipped us off.

“Go to the top of the hill and take the switch-back turn and you will be at the castle where they grow all the food we serve here.”

As if the Creator had spoken, we followed instructions and sure enough there she was at the top of the mountain. Standing outside the castle I painted the view, My Side of the Mountain (below.)

See the Tuscany Retreat Paintings>

Back in the studio (in Italy), I continued developing the colors. I felt very attracted to the right side of the painting, and at one point actually folded the painting in half to see how it would look as a vertical.

That did it. I decided I had to explore this half of the painting. And so the second painting in the series began as a vertical composition.

tuscan landscape painting green
My Side of the Mountain, oil on linen, 11″ x 14″, See purchase info>

Switching from horizontal to a vertical perspective changed the way everything looked. Yet it was not until I returned to Virginia, that the warm reds and purples took the lead.

Stepping back into my Virginia studio felt like walking into another woman’s life. I suppose that’s when I actually entered the castle. There were cobwebs on everything ~ even the studio entrance!

Paintings on easels from two months prior startled me. Looking better than I recalled, I felt the urge to finish them with my deeper, enriched palette. I am struggling for words to express the differences. Perhaps the paintings speak far more clearly. See more of these paintings>

See the one I’m working on today

Can you see the woman in the landscape?

Perhaps not yet. I discovered her in another painting several weeks ago. Since then I’ve noticed she’s in a LOT of my paintings!

Dorothy Fagan Studio
Blocking in a new painting

See the one I’m working on today

Inspired by the idea of an abstract woman in my landscapes, a new way of looking at the blank canvas engages me in the studio. More questions than answers, I am intrigued to discover who she really is!

The small painting on the left easel is my inspiration for the large canvas. I have already painted a Gold Ochre underpainting with oil paint. This gives the canvas some tooth to resist my brush strokes.

close up view
A close up view shows how I am marking out the main forms and shapes of my composition.

Sketching Her Out

Using full strength pigment oil paint, without any medium to thin it, I block in the forms and shapes to fill my canvas. This is where I put my body into the painting. Just the size of the canvas itself is approximately the same as my body. This canvas is 30″ wide and 40″ tall, about the size of an adult woman.

sketching her out
Can you see in the thumbnail sketches in my journal, how these simple shapes translate onto the large canvas?

In the journal she is 2″ tall. On the color study she grows to 14″ Then on the large painting she mushrooms to 40″ ~ a full grown woman.

There is a lot you can’t see about her in the sketchbook that blooms in vibrant color on the 14″ study. And there is a LOT more yet to be articulated in the full size painting.

This painting is part of my Awakening Hearts Series. She doesn’t have a name yet. Perhaps I’ll take suggestions as we go along painting her. Post your suggestions in the comments below.

 

Waking Dream ~ How I Discovered the Woman in the Mountain

Filling four pages in my journal, Squares, lines, a bird . . . an ancient bronze stick figure, then an abstract woman peeking her head over the mountain!

Trying to sketch a dream in my journal this morning, I filled four pages with scribbly boxes and abstract shapes.

sketchbook dreams

I’d never have considered painting such simple compositions. But my sketchbox trunk show had changed the rules. Now I can experiment.

thumbnail sketches

Squares, lines, floating leaves, a bird . . . perhaps they could be designs for the backsides of pillows.

sketchbook dreams

thumbnail sketches

an ancient bronze stick figure I’d seen in the Etruscan collection of the Vatican Museum.

sketchbook dreams

Then suddenly I saw it ~ an abstract woman peeking her head over the mountain!

sketchbook dreams

Three squares had clustered together in the valley and formed her heart.

sketchbook dreams

In the next box, she had arms. Outstretched mountains embracing the world.

Oh my! I wonder what else she can do?

sketchbook dreams

Emotion filled her shapes and i could feel her heart beating. I wonder if she can pray .. .

sketchbook dreams

I tried to sketch two hands clasped together. And then I saw her hip raised up out of the earth. Two hands praying . . . or a dancing woman with arms overhead.

sketchbook dreams

Without thinking I drew the reservoir, the mountain protecting it. And the sky rained stars down to fill it.

sketchbook dreams

The night sky filled with sparkly white stars on a deep Cobalt Blue field.

sketchbook dreams

Her heart joined forces clustering with those nearby. Head rising up, I could feel her strength growing.

sketchbook dreams

I wonder where this story is going? I see the paintings clearly. The colors, shapes, textures, the magic of painting them. I can’t wait to get started.