Who inspires your artistry?  A Garden Party of Colorful Women Inspired Me

plein air painting in garden

Who inspires your artistry?

For me, it’s people who love color. Like beautifully colored moths, we are all drawn to the light.

The invitation to paint at Mary Claire’s garden party was such an attraction. In my mind’s eye I could already see them gathering.

plein air painting in garden
I arrived early to set up my easel and design the painting. When guests began arriving, I had already blocked in the patterns of dark and light.

Arriving about 30 minutes before her guests, members of the Old Ivy Garden Club of Richmond, I set up my easel and staked out a vantage point. I took my wobbly old French easel because I envisioned painting a 24″ x 30″ canvas, too big for my small plein air easel.

Cobalt Blue is the dominant color of Mary Claire’s garden. Flower pots and striped parasols define the space. Cottage garden tables and chairs painted white are covered with comfortable pastel throws. A bright blue tablecloth with lemonade and peach cake laid out the flow of conversation and movement.

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Blocking in the deep Cobalt Blues connected the shadow shapes in the foreground with the blue green backdrop of trees.

I like to tone my canvas with gold ochre undertone in the studio. Rather than spending valuable time covering up white canvas on site, lovely warm earth tones peek through my cobalt blue shadows, immediately adding sparks.

As I added a quick indication of the lights, the first group of guests arrived. I stopped to meet them. Several are painters. All avid gardeners to be sure!

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Finishing up the on-site work, you can see the shadow shapes in the painting are complete.

When I took the painting back to the studio, I found myself imaging Mary Claire’s hydrangeas wrapped around the women. The striped parasols, peach cake and lemonade, I imagined them wearing all of it! But that’s another story.

It took me two weeks to finish the painting. Adding warm lights, I refined the colors and shapes section by section.

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I softened light shadows with pastel colors to open the pathway into the picture.

Warm highlights on on the flowers and leaves popped them foreword, inviting the eye to explore.

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Cool toned Hydrangeas frame the picture at the far left.

A few scrolls lead the eye upward and suggest the casual cottage style of the party.

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Swirling trees embrace the women, suggesting their graceful nature.

Playful interpretation of stripes of the parasols sets them in motion. One angled right, the other left in a dance to and fro. Vibrant Tangerine accents counterplay the Cobalt Blue, bringing the undertones of the canvas to the surface with sparks of light.

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The Garden Party, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″, Prints available>

Oh, and about those fabrics of the hydrangea, parasols and peach cake ~ the article about them will be out soon!

See the Hand Painted Scarves & Jackets>

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Author: Dorothy Fagan

Through the quirky way she interprets dreams, art, and day-to-day stuff ~ Dorothy’s dream of painting the lavender fields of Provence became real. Her book about painting in France, Discovering Joy’s Garden, transformed into this inspirational website.