Tuscany Retreat Inspires Paintings and Passion for Artist Dorothy Fagan
See inside the creative process as watercolor sketches are transformed into large oil paintings.
OPEN STUDIO NOV & DEC
Nov 17-19, 24-26, Dec 1-3
10am ~ 4pm
Inviting creative muses to join her on a retreat in Tuscany, Fagan sought to absorb the Tuscan lifestyle into her art and life. She engaged friends in sharing their views of Tuscany. The result can be seen in the warmth and vigor of her newest paintings, vibrantly colored landscapes painted with jewel tones, pastels, and earthy textures.
She returned to Tuscany this fall with more friends. The group participated in traditional Tuscan cooking lessons with Chef Danilo Becattini, plein air painting, watercolor journaling, poetry writing, drawing, hiking, and visiting artisan studios.
“The heart connection with others opens the channel of creativity. Even without language, we were all moved deeply by 88 year-old Dario and his wife Rena. His sparkling blue eyes translated into sparkling turquoise skies in my paintings. It’s magical how people can bring out the rainbow of colors in each other.”
Oil paintings and watercolors from the retreat are on display this winter at Fagan’s Hallieford studio by the pond while she works on her book, “Muses of Tuscany.” Visitors are invited to see how these small watercolor sketches and plein air paintings are translated into large oil paintings. Fagan will present a studio talk and invite questions on Sunday, November 19 at 1:00pm.
The Muses of Tuscany exhibit and talk is open to the public free of charge Nov. 17-19, 24-26, and Dec. 1-3 from 10am – 4pm at the artist studio, 110 Skipjack Lane, Cobbs Creek. For more information call 804-366-0990 or visit thepaintinglesson.com.
Dorothy Fagan’s Studio is part of the newly forming Middle Peninsula Artisan Trail Network, which seeks to enrich the quality of life for people in Mathews, Gloucester, Middlesex, and Essex counties. For info about the Virginia Artisan Trail visit artisancenterofvirginia.org.
50 Watercolors 50 Oil Paintings inspired by my retreat in Tuscany
Living in the tiny hilltop village of Poggio Alla Croce for two months, I have been able to focus on painting. Exploring color for the pure pleasure of feeling its flow and vibrancy is a treat. I hope you will join me in my studio in Cobbs Creek, Virginia. Come experience the color and joy of a retreat in Tuscany!
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 Sunrise” was the answer I received. I painted it on the balcony of my apartment in Poggio Alla Croce nine months after the watercolor.
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.
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.
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” 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.
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!
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.
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!
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.