Hydrangea Heaven ~ A Lesson in Accepting Grace

A visit to Mary Claire’s garden feels like heaven, especially as her hydrangea is in full bloom! Intoxicating fragrance from nearby jasmine and gardenia fill the air. I feel as though I’ve died and gone to heaven!

Painting in Mary Claire’s garden embraced me with dreams of living in Monet’s garden!

plein air painting hydrangea garden
The side garden surrounded by hydrangea in full bloom. To the far left, white jasmine and gardenia fill the air with intoxicating perfume.

With so many choices, it was hard to choose just one thing to paint. And I had only small (8×10) canvas panel with me.

I set up my easel facing a blooming calla lily. You can see it to the lower left of the easel in the pic below. Then suddenly turned around to face the hydrangea garden in the late afternoon sunlight.


plein air painting garden
Late afternoon sunlight and deep shadows on Mary Claire’s hydrangea garden

Hydrangea symbolize heartfelt emotions, gratitude for being understood. The word is from Greek for water and vessel. Seems funny how I have longed for my own hydrangeas to bloom, only to have them die of drought for so many years. And now I am painting in a plush garden of them?

Accepting grace (and whimsy) of the Creator is a blessing my younger self was blind to. How wonderful it is to have the vision of a woman who now wears bi-focals!

plein air painting hydrangea garden
turning around, I painted the garden instead of a single bloom.

Back in the studio, I added highlight colors the following day. A few jewel tone shadows as the over=painted teal of the shutters and crimson hydrangea ~ creates sparkle and light in the shadows.

plein air painting hydrangea garden
Hydrangea Heaven, oil, prints available

Mary Claire mentioned she is hosting a garden club visit later next week. She invited me to crash her garden party with my easel! I’ve never painted a live event before … stay tuned to see the painting and pics

Hydrangea Heaven prints are available on my website, as is the original painting. You will find them here>


I grew up sailing a little red sailboat on a lake in New Jersey. Each season we drained its leaky hull and patched the fiberglass. Not even a cockpit, our Sailfish was more like a surfboard than sailboat. 

grace wall decal

Thinking back on it, my heart fills with feelings of youth, freedom, learning to hold rudder and sail in balance ~ and how to pull the sail out of the drink when we tipped her over.

Painting sailboats … it all comes rushing back through the paint brush with¬†charged up force.

Reflecting on why I wanted to paint a sailboat? I wasn’t sure at first. Once I began asking the question, answers piled up until I didn’t know where to begin. Then finally ~ weeks later ~ one word emerged.


Grace by Dorothy Fagan
Grace, oil on linen, 16″ x 16″ Purchase info

I remember being annoyed with the nuns for not teaching us what grace is. It seemed only that some people like nuns had it. And the rest of us had to figure it out or do without.

Who knew we were doing it all along?

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