The garden as inspiration
Last year I visited the exhibition “Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse” in the Royal Academy of Arts in London. Inspired by this show – at which I saw a few of the monumental “Water-Lily” paintings by Monet for the first time – I hurried home to start my own garden painting.
The motive is a sunlit flower-garden, giving you the feeling of a hot summer’s day in Southern France. The path is inviting you to enter this oases of peacefulness. Actual flower varieties are not defined, except perhaps the hydrangeas in the foreground. Bright sunlight is implied by the contrast of the dark shadow in the foreground (hinting that there might be bushes or trees just out of sight) and the blistering white light on the path, flowers, bushes and walls of the house. The sharp silhouettes of the cypress trees against the sky and the clearly visible mountains and clouds on the horizon suggest that the air is clear and dry.
The viewer can also see that the viewpoint or horizon of this painting is rather high. The eye of the beholder is actually at the same height as the horizon or the roof of the house. It is also possible that you are looking at a hillside garden. This was intentional, because it allowed me to fill most of the canvas with flowers, which the viewer looks at from above. This perspective gives the picture a more flattened and abstract character.
After starting with an initial sketch on paper, I shifted to a canvas . Using my left hand, I painted the first set-up, applying acrylic paint with a brush onto to the canvas (see pictures above). I then added successive layers – the first ones in acrylic paint and the later ones in oil – with my right hand using a spatula. The flowers and bushes were completed with a livelier pattern of strokes in order to suggest the growing energy of these plants. In contrast to this, I used a horizontal or vertical direction of strokes for the path and the walls of the house. Under-layers are peeking through throughout the canvas, making for a “breathing” painting. The composition of the painting contains a balance between vertical (path, walls and trees) and horizontal (roof of the house, woods, mountains and skyline). Below you can see-with the help of floodlight- the texture of the thickly applied paint.