Sunday, January 24, 2010

Painting Other People's Gardens

I had the great good fortune to paint the beautiful garden of a friend of mine last fall. Her garden has a fantastic collection of conifers, both dwarf and standard sized, well-established perennials, and Japanese maples. I loved it! Of course I wanted to paint it! (I wanted to own it!) My second visit I spent half an hour just hanging out in it, taking lots of photos from different directions, with close-ups of the smaller plants. From those my friend chose her favorite view. My first effort was to make a sketch to test the color range and the overall design:

Study for Jayne's Garden
Acrylic on Paper

I felt like the overall design and the red-violets and blue-greens worked well together so I went forward with the painting. This was the first time I'd ever done a full color study as preparation, but it really made a difference to have it while I was working on it. It was much easier for me to visualize being in the real garden and remember how the plants stood in relation to each other. In the end, I still struggled for some time to capture the different textures and the rich color palette of the many different plants. Since my friend and her husband own a nursery—the wonderful Meadowcroft Farm in Oregon City—I felt duty-bound to render the foliage at least semi-recognizeably. After a couple weeks of concerted reworking, I eventually arrived at a final version:

Jayne's Garden
Acrylic on Canvas 18x24 SOLD

The painting went to its new home and I have a great experience and wonderful memories, forever. How lucky I am to have friends with such beautiful gardens.

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