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.


3 Doorways to the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ Tuscan Retreat

A Question is like a doorway. Opening a question changes everything.

My Retreat in Tuscany did this. The question I opened was “how to absorb the Tuscan Lifestyle into my life and artistry?”

Three doorway paintings explore this idea.

verdigris door painting dorothy fagan
Verdigris Door, oil, 10″ x 10″

Doorway #1 ~ Verdigris Door

In Verdigris Door, I was initially fascinated with the iron scroll work above the door. My first study was this oil wash and line drawing. You can see how my focus shifted from the detail scroll in the study below to color, light and shadow in the finished painting above.

Tuscan doorways
Scroll Door, wash and line drawing, 5″ x 7″
Tuscan doorways
Verdigris Doorway oil study, 8″ x 6″

#2 ~ Vermilion Doorway

Struck by the wonderful vermilion color, I tried several times to paint it. This version where the color is framed by an open archway, seemed a way of playing with the color without letting it dominate everything.

Three arched doorways, one to the right, the next front and center, and a third through the passage ~ lead us through the painting. A slice of sky opens light on the tower, street, and the next doorway.

Like a dream, I wonder what it means? Just writing the question, I see how this painting is open doorways, while the door in the first paintings were closed.

The quest of my Tuscan retreat did open me ~ connecting heart and mind in a gentle, compassionate way.

Vermilion Doorway Dorothy Fagan
Vermilion Doorway, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

The figure gives scale to the doorway, small in relation to a larger structure. A silhouette suggests questions. Who? An aspect of myself? Someone ancient? Or a new way of seeing myself?

Experiencing the Tuscany lifestyle, exploring slowly, letting the colors, flavors, and laughter seep in DID give me a deeper appreciation of life. I feel amazed and privileged to be here. Every moment of every day is precious and colorful. You can see this reflected in these paintings.

Loro Cuifenna
Loro Cuifenna village

This photo of Jim was my inspiration for the painting. There is nothing extraordinary about the photo. It looks like any tourist photo, poorly lit with the person looking the other way.

And yet … Jim standing in the doorway was an invitation to explore something hidden inside myself. Looking back on it now, I can see how it sparked my dream, colors and shapes hidden inside me that I never would have seen.

Green Door Dorothy Fagan
Green Door, oil on cradled wood panel, 10″ x 8″

#3 Green Door

From the same village of Loro Cuifenna, this narrow passage called for exploration. Yes, that IS a figure down in the passageway!

At first I painted the figure distinctly. Then it seemed to feel better as I blurred the form. I thought about painting it out completely. Then reluctantly, I let the human form be suspended between the sky and earth tones of the village.

Writing this, I see myself the same way.

Tuscan doorway
Green Door, oil study, 7″ x 5″

Writing about a painting AFTER it is painted, opens another doorway. There are things we ‘know’ about ourselves innately. Playing with colors and lines is one way of exploring something inside. Jotting questions, writing a simple description of each painting, these simple journaling techniques open new understanding of the soul inside.

Another Doorway

I am taking a group on a Tuscan Retreat. Watercolor journaling like this, writing, painting, cooking, wine tasting, exploring the Tuscan Lifestyle ~ What would it look like to absorb and live it? Find out more>

Tuscan Landscape Oil & Pastel

This Tuscan landscape oil painting and pastel study is finally complete. I began the oil this past winter. Along the way, I did the pastel to help resolve several issues that came up in the painting. Coming home to pastel completed the connection between drawing and painting, head and heart.

Tuscan Landscape Oil Painting

Tuscan landscape painting
Volpaia Village, oil, 20 x 24

The pastel palette is hundreds of colors pre-mixed, laid out where I can see them. In a flash, I can grab one and thrust what ever I am feeling at the moment onto the page.

Pastel Palette Schmincke
Tray of warm tone pastels.

The oil palette has an infinite number of colors ~ waiting to be mixed! Stop and think, which color do I want? How to mix it?

After all these years of painting, how to mix it is not an issue. Yet ~ the spontaneity of pre-mixed suggestions on my pastel palette is as powerful a force as ever. I received my first set of 45 sticks when I was 12.

After graduating college I began painting in pastel exclusively. The heart connection is immediate. Holding a large chunk of pigment in hand, the wavelength touches the heart directly. No detours through the head. Emotion channeled directly onto the painting.

Spilling one’s guts is healing. Though not acceptable in society as a rule, saying exactly what is in the heart moves mountains. A piece of paper and a few pieces of raw pigment seems a safe place to let loose.

The problem I was having in the oil painting was that there were so many objects (houses, trees, lines, colors) in the painting, I got lost from what inspired me to paint it in the first place. This is a very common problem.

Instead of spinning wheels with oil paint, a small pastel study addresses the issue. Unify the palette, pull the shapes together as a unit, and return to the source of inspiration. Pray it turns out, literally!