Dordogne Breeze

Here is the final version of the painting I posted in progress yesterday:

French landscape <!-painting by Jennifer E Young "Dordogne Breeze" Oil on Linen, 20x16" Click here for more info. Contact me to purchase!

The fun thing about this painting is that I used a lot of paint, which made working the edges really easy and enjoyable to manipulate. Truth be told, I had originally planned to have more elements  in the painting, (sheep, additional buildings in the distance) but in the process of painting it I decided I liked the simplicity of it with just a very few dominant shapes. Those other elements can wait for another composition, another day. This has been a good reminder to myself that I do not need to say everything in one painting, and to just let the brushwork speak for itself.

French landscape; new and in progress!

It feels like it has been ages since I posted a new work in progress. That is probably because it has been! This kitchen renovation really sidelined me more than I imagined. The new kitchen was in the studio and the old was completely gutted. For weeks. We live in a small house and there was no room at all to store the new stuff, so for a while we could barely walk around without tripping into something or shimmying by someone fast enough to avoid being stapled or drilled. Add to that mix  a couple of family illnesses and a trip or two, and here we are in December already.

French landscape painting in progress by Jennifer E Young

The kitchen still isn't done but at least my studio has been freed from floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, boxes, and debris (not to mention a table saw or two). So today I actually started something new. It feels good! This is a 20x16" and a fairly simple composition. But I wanted to keep it alla prima and fresh and airy, and for my first time back at the easel I wasn't looking to plunge into a large complicated piece. It's not done yet, but I think will be very  soon. When it is I will post it here, of course, and with a much better quality photo.

Poppies in a Fallow Field

I posted a progress shot of this painting a while ago, but let it marinate while I took advantage of the good weather to explore some plein air painting. While I haven't closed the season on plein air work, I'm excited to return to the studio, both to start something new and to tie up loose ends.landscape painting south of France by Jennifer E Young

"Poppies in a Fallow Field" Oil on Linen, 16x20" Click here for more info, or contact me to purchase!

In southern France, farmers often sow poppies and other wild flowers in fields that otherwise go fallow. This naturally helps protect the soil from erosion. At other times, poppies self sow and grow wild spontaneously. In either case, their profuse springtime display is pure joy to behold.

Lessons from the workshop

I thought I'd share a few of the studies I worked on during the Matt Smith workshop I posted about earlier this week. I will first preface by saying that my haste in preparing for this class came back to haunt me, so while I was well prepared in terms of my art supplies, I misunderstood what I was supposed to bring in the way of reference materials. The support documentation said to bring plein air studies and/or photos, and for some reason I took that to mean that plein air studies were preferred (maybe I was just hooked on the idea of plein air!) I probably should have asked beforehand about this because I did feel a little puzzled when I was packing about referencing a small scale plein air to make another small scale painting. (I usually translate small plein airs to larger works in the studio, but the recommended canvas sizes were all under 12x16"). In any event, I packed a number of my plein air pieces for reference, and then as a total afterthought printed off a few of my photos "just in case."

After seeing one demo and hearing the discussion though, I realized the error of my ways. I talked to Matt about what I should work from and he said he would rather see what I could do with my photo references for this class. Matt did bring a number of his own photo references for people to use, but I really dislike using other people's references. Even though we are composing with light and form, I want references that reflect my real experience of having seen (and felt) a place.  So I did what I could with what I had, but I really wished I had brought a more extensive selection of my hundreds upon hundreds of photos I have in my personal archive.

This  first painting is also the most incomplete:


In all of my paintings the common feedback from Matt was to take my brush and "knock back" some of my brushwork that competed with my statement or focal area. For instance, in this painting, our conversation went something like this:

MS:  "Is this painting about the light or shadows?" JY: "Well, I like the highlights on the edges of the poplar trees the best". And with that he took my brush and blended back the rather boisterous brushwork that was beginning to take shape in the shadow passages. MS: "You're giving equal weight to both." Next he mixed a bold tree highlight and swept it upwards on the edge of one of my poplar trees calligraphically, making the highlight really jump out. JY: "Ah, I see! But...I wouldn't just leave it like that...would I? It looks pretty unfinished." MS: "No, not necessarily. But you may restate and knock back several times before you get it right."

 I have such a love of brushwork, but it probably can work to my disadvantage sometimes. The hard part, I think, is figuring out what, exactly, is "right", and what is too little or too much. It's all about finding that balance, where active areas are juxtaposed with quiet passages. It's the quiet passages that play a supporting role and allow the more active ones to take center stage. To paraphrase something Matt said in one of his talks, it can't all be "important". Filter the noise and find the important elements.

I soon abandoned the first study, deciding to just keep that as an annotated lesson.  The second 8x10" painting below is more complete, and may look familiar to some long time blog readers. That is because I painted this scene before en plein air, and blogged about it here. The photo in the link is too dark overall but even so, I think this second study is much more infused with light. (So this exercise will be very helpful to me when I translate the concept to a larger painting, which I really am excited to do now! ) For the painting below, though,  I thought I'd try it again using just my photo reference and see what kind of feedback I could get, and whether it would look decidedly different as a result.


I really loved the composition as it was, so it remains relatively the same in this second attempt. But in terms of paint application,  I got some helpful hands-on feedback from Matt again. Again he took my brush and knocked back the brushwork of the distant trees to make them sit back more and look less stylized.  Fair enough. He then demonstrated "opening up the shadows, using reflected light cast from nearby objects to cast color into the shadows. He put a touch of blue, for instance, on the shadow side of the tree trunks reflecting the water, and the warmer tones reflecting warmth from the stones or earth. That was awesome. After that he showed me how an assertive hand used to apply just a few intense highlights could suddenly make the painting pop. I reworked some of what he put in but played with those general ideas. But that rim light of his along the trunk and the 3 or 4 dabs of bright green paint on the tree leaves remain just as they were applied. (And don't they just sing?)

I felt I was finally getting somewhere on this final painting (below), though we had some helpful discussion early on about using perspective to direct the viewer to the focal point. He again knocked back the distant mountains with no paint, just several swift blending strokes (sigh.)  I don't consider this painting really finished either but I love the composition and I think I would like to try this again on a larger scale. It's the Dordogne as seen from the top of the Chateau de Beynac.


I think overall his main critique of my work was that he wanted to see both more paint and a more deliberate, assertive handling of paint. And it's really hard to do the latter without the former. As he put it, you need to have enough paint there so that it expresses the character of the medium. Otherwise you need to ask yourself, "Why are you painting in oils?"

The class was listed as an intermediate-advanced class and I felt the instruction and the students lived up to that. I left the class pretty exhausted but with a lot to think about on my 6 hour drive back home. It will be interesting to see how I can apply Matt's feedback and insights to my work, while still making my paintings "mine". Once or twice the feedback was hard, but I soon realized, as with any class, it's important to leave your ego at the door and come with an open mind if you really want to learn.

French country garden painting complete

Whew! I had a lot of starts and stops with this painting, but it's finished.There were times when I really needed to scrape whole portions of it down because there was too much buildup to make adjustments. It brought to mind a quote attributed to Everett Raymond Kinstler that I read recently in a very good article by Bill Davidson posted on the Oil Painters of America blog,

“I start out in this way thinking, ‘this will be the greatest painting of this subject matter ever painted.’ Later in the process I think, ‘this will be the greatest painting of this subject matter I ever painted,’ and finally I think, ‘Hell! I hope I can save this painting!’ [paraphrased]”

Now I can't say that I've so far stated anything close to the first sentence of that quote, but the progression of feeling from confidence to doubt certainly rings true, especially when there is a lot of time invested in a piece.

French country garden painting by Jennifer Young"Quiet Reflection, Southern France" Oil on Linen, 20x24"

The subject matter is the dappled morning light as it plays across a part of an old convent building and surrounding water garden. This place is now converted to a B&B and venue for painting holidays  (aptly named Le Vieux Couvent) in the town of Frayssinet, France. I blogged about my visit there numerous times. It is a lovely place that I remember with great fondness.

...And now,I'm going to get  a bit off topic by asking a favor of my readers. I seem to be having some trouble having my posts delivered to subscribers by email. So if you actually do happen to receive this post via your email subscription, could you please let me know?

Southern France W.I.P. resurrected

It has been 4 months since my last confession post. I realize my blogging has been extremely spotty over the past year or so, and I think it is time to 'fess up about the reason for my silence before getting to my work-in-progress. Longtime readers may recall my mention before of, in the midst of being a new mother, my struggle with some health issues. Well it got worse before it started getting better, and these two major life challenges has meant the painting has had to take a back seat. In a nutshell, I developed an autoimmune condition after the birth of my L.O., and one of the main (and most debilitating) symptoms has been chronic insomnia. Now you'd think that with insomnia I might as well get up and out to the studio and do some painting! But it hasn't worked out that way because along with the insomnia came some pretty significant muscle pain and (not surprisingly) extreme fatigue. Before motherhood, I was able to maintain a fairly steady process of work and productivity. Certainly some days were more productive than others, but overall I took my painting life seriously and showed up to work whether "the inspiration hit" or not. I still take my painting life seriously, but my recent life and health changes have thrown me for a loop. I have seen some improvement lately, so I remain optimistic that I can get this all sorted out. But it seems to be two steps forward and one step back.

Mundane tasks are manageable, but creative work simply does not happen for me on 3-4 hours (or less) of sleep for months on end; particularly when I am also taking care of a toddler. Contrary to what a lot of people think, painting is as much an intellectual process as it is an emotional one (perhaps even moreso) and it requires a lot of brain power, focus, and concentration. With plein air painting, where the concerted effort is even more heightened, there is the added need for a good deal of phyical stamina as well. So if you happen to see me post a plein air painting here on the blog, you can assume that I must've been blessed with the miracle of a few good night's sleep beforehand! Okay, so enough of the old lady talk.

This painting, the very beginnings of which I wrote about in my prior post, in (ahem!) late December, is finished. Quite a bit different from the plein air study I based this on, but the study was still a good reference for the light, and helped bring back the experience of being there. Click on the image for more info:

Landscape painting of southern France by Jennifer Young

"Path to St. Germain du Bel Air", oil on linen, 24x30"


From study to studio (work in progress)

I feel like it has been ages since I have painted en plein air. Perhaps I feel this way because it is true! But while time, obligation, and health have kept my plein air painting at bay lately, I still think about it very much (not without a lot of longing) and I find myself digging out what plein air pieces I still have and meditating on them. It seems to me that even the weakest studies contain valuable information. Studio works have their place and purpose, and (the good ones) posess a grandeur that is harder to acheive en plein air. But there is a quality about the plein air paintings that continues to distinguish them in my heart and mind as something very special. As incomplete and insufficient as some of them are, they are infused with life and an immediacy that I still find hard to match in the studio. Still, given my life situation at the moment, I shall have to try.

One day recently when I was feeling particularly "homesick" for plein air painting, I came across this little piece that I painted during my trip to the Dordogne. It was tucked away in a stack of unfinished studies that I have not looked at in a long time:

 St. Germain de Bel Air plein air painting by Jennifer Young

I put it away mainly because I ran out of time to finish it on site, and I really haven't thought much about it since. It doesn't have the wildflowers that were in the field, the middle distance is unresolved, and it is lacking contrast in the row of nearby trees, as well as some other detail. But what it does have is some really good information about the light, as well as a nice loose, light touch that reflects the breeziness of that morning in early summer. And as I looked at it with new eyes, I started to think about new possibilities, and how I might translate the information in this scene to a larger studio canvas.

The location was near a public park just on the outskirts of a little village in France called St. Germain de Bel Air. There were these enormously tall trees that I believe were poplars. They always remind me of Monet because he painted a series of these trees in the countryside near Giverny. I was attracted to the scene not only because of the trees, but because of the way they lined the simple country path that led to the village, and the shadows they cast in great diagonals across the picture plane.

We will see how it goes, but here is my (very) preliminary layout on a 24x30" canvas.

French landscape painting work in progress by Jennifer Young

Rooftops, St. Cirq Lapopie (final)

I've been struggling with a killer cold or allergy or something for over a week now, so it's really thrown me for a loop in the studio. But I have now finished the French village painting I have been blogging about in my last couple of posts (here and here). I did not have a chance to take any more progression shots due to the amount of time I lost, so my apologies to those who were following the progression of the work-in-progress.

French village landscape painting St Cirq Lapopie

"Rooftops, St. Cirq Lapopie" Oil on Linen, 30x24" SOLD

There was a certain quality of light I was after in this painting...a slight haziness that comes on a warm day when the sun begins to filter through the clouds after a soft rain (the weather when I visited there could best be described as "changeable"!) So there are a soft edges and close values to tackle, especially in the middle and far distance.

St. Cirq Lapopie is a fortressed village dating back to the Middle Ages. Sitting high above the Lot River, it is, as I mentioned in my prior post, dripping with so much charm that it really does invoke fairy tales of knights and damsels in distress!Narrow cobbled streets wind their way through cliffsides, leading up to a fortressed peak that allows stunning views of the steep tiled rooftops and the Lot valley.

St. Cirq Rooftops WIP (cont'd)

As it turned out, there was too much weather and too little opportunity to do any plein air painting last week. But I have been plugging away at my studio painting of St. Cirq La Popie. The images below show my continued progress thus far. Laying in my lightest passages, I worked on the sky and distant cliffs and ruins first. Next, I started on my rooftops. In this region, I noticed that there were a lot of gray-blue undertones along with the terra cotta-tiled rooftops, so I experimented with laying in a gray base to start. I am not really sure if doing so helped me or hindered me, but nothing ventured, nothing gained.

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

St. Cirq Lapopie

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

France landscape oil painting by Jennifer Young

At this point, I need to refine, work on the garden, and bring out my highlights, so this is what I'll be working on today. This painting is all angles and not much actual landscape, so my progress has been a little slow going at times. Nevertheless, the composition and the concept interest me. I do miss plein air painting, but I have decided I need to make the most of being studio-bound by experimenting, working on new challenges, and working out some new ideas.

Ciel Dore

Here are the final images for the French landscape painting-in-progress I've posted about recently (see the progression at this link and this one.)  As I mentioned before, at this stage in the game, my main "statement" has taken shape, so  it is all about refining the idea. It might not be evident in the previous photos, but when I returned to the easel to finish the painting, I felt that the greens in the grass and shrubs were looking a bit too light/bright and slightly too cool for the quality of the light I was aiming for. So the first thing I did was to warm all of that up to give it more of that late evening sun-kissed feeling. Next, I worked on the shape, shadows and highlights of the foreground shrubs:

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

Followed by some subtle shading on the pigeonniere and refining the edges of the background shrubs:

France painting work in progress Jennifer Young

My final decisions have to do with working out the shadows and highlights in the clouds to give them form. I was really reluctant to go back into the sky because I liked so much what was going on there and I didn't want to mess with it too much. But, given the state of the rest of the painting, I felt that it really needed some further development. So I took a page from the lessons learned from my abstract expressionist art school days. Namely, that one should not hold any single portion of a painting as "too precious" if it doesn't benefit the painting as a whole. I also have made minor alterations to the shapes of some of the clouds, and warmed up the sky at the horizon, because it was feeling a bit too cool for a sky that had so much warmth in the clouds.

France landscape oil painting by Jennifer Young

Here is the final. I kept the composition simple because I really decided to push the color in this piece and make this a sky painting. Since I was working from composite images and memory rather than from life, the challenge was to make the light cohesive with the drama going on in the sky. I feel like I've gotten a pretty good representation of what I set out to achieve, so I am happy with the outcome.

French landscape painting of the Lot Valley by Jennifer Young

"Ciel Dore" (Gilded Sky) Oil on Linen, 20x24" Sold!

Pigeonniere W.I.P.

I am short on time today, so this post will be short on words (rare, I know!) I do have pictures to share, however, of my current 20x24" painting on the easel. The plan is for this to be a larger, more developed version of the plein air piece I did in France (shown here) with more of the sky featured. Compositional sketch:

France painting work-in-progress by Jennifer Young

Tonal sketch:

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

Sky lay-in (first go):

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

Ground and shrubs lay-in:

France landscape oil painting by Jennifer Young

France landscape painting in progress by Jennifer Young

Now the fun begins! :-)

Gardens Above the Valley Dordogne

As I ponder my now sporadic studio time, I think it might behoove me to aim for some small victories with some smaller paintings. So that is how this 20x16" canvas came about. I will say though that smaller doesn't always mean quicker. I meant to finish this piece some time around last Wednesday but by Friday evening I still found myself putting on one more "final dab".  Any way, it is, for the most part, complete enough to come off of the easel and go into a frame for one final look. Sometimes just framing a painting can help me to see it anew and tell me what more (or less) it might need.

French country garden painting by Jennifer Young "Gardens Above the Valley Dordogne" Oil on Linen, 20x16" Sold!

The painting is of a garden  scene in the picturesque village of Beynac, made famous by the Chateau de Beynac, which I have painted and written of before here and here. The walk up from the river banks to the the chateau is every bit as memorable as a visit to the chateau itself. Everywhere one turns there are charming views up narrow passageways, or  breathtaking views over the Dordogne valley.

"All Things French" opens tonight

Off to Greenville for the show opening. Y'all come! For those who can't make it, here's a slideshow recap of work I've delivered for the show:

Where: City Art Gallery, 511 Red Banks Rd., Greenville, NC 27858 When: Opening August 6, 6-8 PM. Show continues throught the month of August. What: All Things French! Paintings from France travels by Jennifer Young and Hilarie Lambert

Ahh, oops, ah-ha, and ouch!

I have one more work to share today from the group I'll be taking to North Carolina for the "All Things French" show next week. This was done alla prima. More fun with light and shadow, and lots of paint! Ah, it's been such fun revisiting these lovely places through the act of painting them.

landscape painting southern france by Jennifer Young "Coleurs dus Sud" Oil on linen, 20x24" sold

For this painting and the last one I posted, I experimented with an interesting double primary palette- Titanium white, Cad Yellow Pale, Golden Ochre (Rembrandt) , Organic Vermillion (Daniel Smith), Quinacridone Rose, Ultramarine Blue, and Manganese Blue (Old Holland).  I must say it was a lot of fun playing with these different colors. The gold ochre is dangerously lovely, and the organic vermillion was nice change up from cad. red light. In fact, it's similar, but the tinting strength isn't quite as strong so in some ways it was easier to use.

I went with this palette for a couple of reasons, but the key word is "economy". First it's an economy of time. The increasing pain in my arms was making it difficult to spend an inordinate amount of time mixing certain colors, even though I've learned enough about color mixing to know how to acheive most of what I need. I almost never use any color directly from the tube any way, but it helped to have a premixed earth, for the buildings for instance, and when such warmth in the scene predominates.

Second, it's an economy of money. I mentioned before that I have a lot of art supplies that kind of fell by the wayside once I discovered some preferred methods and materials, but now I'm starting to revisit those supplies to try and economize where I can. All of the paints and substrates are archival, quality materials, but I do have some far-out tubes of colors--some dating back to before I started painting landscapes!

The paint department at the Lowe's hardware store near our house has something they call the "oops bin". These are mixed paints of specialty colors that presumably didn't come out as expected. I guess you could say that I have my own "oops bins".  After limiting myself to nothing much larger than a double primary palette for years (without much variation), I think it's time to mine some of these strange old friends. Maybe the "oops" will even lead to some ah-ha's along the way!

p.s. I think I'm narrowing down what the problem in my arms might be. Unfortunately it's not limited to just my arms and hands, but radiates from my neck and shoulders all the way down both sides. It's taken a couple of days to write this post, so suffice it to say that my blogging will slow down a bit for a while. (I know I said that before but I really mean it this time!)  Sadly, I will probably have to take a brief rest from painting too. And gardening. I'm typically not too good at "resting" so let's hope I don't go nuts in the interim!

Dusk Approaches

If you're tired of French paintings, don't read this post! I've been on a roll. Here's another one of the Dordogne, with my favorite light and a play of long shadows:

landscape painting of the French countryside with poppies

"Dusk Approaches" Oil on Linen, 20x24" sold

The paint is thick and it's still a bit soft, but if it sets up enough to receive a retouch varnish, I may include it my show of French works that opens next week. This new piece was done on a rather rougher weave linen than I'm accustomed to using, but since I'm trying to economize, I'm working my way through the art supplies I have on hand (rather than just ordering more of my 'preferred' materials.)

The linen is a quality product, just not as fine a weave as I normally like; so up to now these canvases have been collecting dust. It came stretched and pre-primed, but I did add a couple of extra coats of gesso beforehand (with sanding in between) which helped to smooth the surface a little. But still its grip on the paint was significant, so some use of the palette knife came in mighty handy.

One of these days I will do a serious update to my website and post my new paintings there as well. But in the meantime, please contact me for purchasing info.

Le Bateau Rouge

Well the week has flown by and I'm still working away constantly getting ready for the show at City Art Gallery (final touches, varnishing, framing, etc.) Meanwhile I have developed some kind of tendonitis in BOTH of my arms, starting from my shoulders and running all the way down to my wrists and hands. This has been coming on for a while but now it's raging. Fabulous. It also hurts to do any kind of computer work, so since I haven't trained any other appendages to hold a paintbrush, right now if I have to limit one activity it's going to be the computer. Needless to say, blogging may be spotty at best over the next week or two, but I will try to keep posting here and there if I can. Today's painting is again of a scene in the Dordogne. I worked from sketches and a photo. The tree in my photo was very much like a reverse version (in type and lighting) to the plein air painting I did not too long ago of the backlit willow, so I for that part of the painting, I found my plein air work to be a better reference. A little bit of Virginia in France? Hey, if it makes a better painting, I'm all for it.

French landscape painting by Jennifer Young

"Le Bateau Rouge" Oil on Linen, 24x30" sold

French market painting #2

Here is something of a companion piece to the other Cahors market painting I posted a couple of days ago:

French market oil painting by Jennifer Young

"Legumes du Jour" Oil on Linen, 20x16"


For both this painting and the previous market painting I have again experimented with a single primary palette of just 3 colors (red, yellow, and blue) plus white. I don't normally use a huge palette any way, but sometimes I feel I can become over-reliant on certain colors. Using a very limited palette helps me to feel as if I am taking back in control of my color mixing and really forces me to think more about color relationships. It also pretty much ensures more unified color. My three primaries for these two paintings were cadmium yellow pale, cadmium red medium, and ultramarine blue, and the white was titanium.

Shifting Light on the Dordogne

New painting:

landscape painting dordogne france

"Shifiting Light on the Dordogne" Oil on Linen, 30x40" Contact me for purchasing info.

One of the remarkable features about the landscape in this corner of France was the dramatic way the light would shift. You could be driving in a valley covered by enormous, low-lying clouds, and drive over a hill to the next valley filled with brilliant sunshine. If I had to describe in one word the weather of this region (at least in the spring when I was there) it would be "changeable." You basically had to dress in layers ("Wear fleece" was the prudent advice), and be prepared for fog, chill, rain and blazing sun, often throughout the course of one morning.

It could be quite a challenge for the plein air painter, but it did make for some amazing skies and cloud shadows--kind of like the things you see in a nature film that uses time-lapse photography. This is what I was trying to capture in this birds-eye view painting looking down on the Dordogne river and valley. It is one of several stunning vistas I saw from the top of the Chateau de Beynac.

French pastoral WIP now complete

I spent the good part of last week working on the 3x4' work-in-progress that I'd posted earlier. Usually I consider a 30x40" canvas to be a large painting for me. So moving up to 36x48" does slow me down a bit. I worked at it pretty consistently and really enjoyed myself, though I found myself constantly repeating a few mantras: "I need to mix even more paint," "I need bigger brushes", and "My shoulder aches." I may have to see if I can train myself to paint left-handed if I'm going to continue to do these big paintings!

French countryside landscape painting by Jennifer Young

"Solitaire" Oil on Canvas, 36x48" Contact me for more info!

This painting is a scene from my trip to the Lot and Dordogne last year. We spent one lovely morning painting alongside a pond in the village of St. Germain du Bel Air. This village is only a few kilos from where I was staying in Frayssinet, and it has a great park where the locals will go to picnic and do a little fishing. I remember when our group arrived on the scene and disembarked from the bus. All the chatter stopped and everybody drew in a soft gasp as we took in the dreamy surroundings. I especially loved how the light sparkled on the water and through those backlit tall trees. Here's a bit of zoom on the fishing dude:

detail oil painting of France

Garden Sentinel

I have always had a thing for these ugly guys:

plein air garden painting by jennifer young

Garden Sentinel Oil on Linen, 20x16" Contact for purchasing info.

Typically you might think of gargoyles peering their gloomy countenances over the edifice of some Medieval cathedral. But there are also garden varieties, and in southern France I enjoyed seeing a number of them lurking in the shadows the private garden nooks and flower beds last year when I happened to pass by on my walks in the countryside.

Throughout the course of the spring, I've been trying to fashion my studio garden with favorite elements from the gardens I've enjoyed during my travels. It's the feeling I'm going for more than any kind of exact replica, but I'm aiming for something of a cross between the gardens of Provence and the Aquitaine and the courtyard gardens of New Orleans and Key West. ( I plan to post some photos of my studio garden soon.)

I painted this piece en plein air in about 2 1/2 sessions. The dappled light changed very quickly in this spot, so I really only had about 1 hour per session . I had to just take note of the time of day and report back at that same time so that I could work with the same lighting conditions. I have been told that my little garden gargoyle is called a "house protector." Dave just calls him Ed.

Happy 4th of July weekend everyone!