The Garden as Art

The Garden as Art

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It is the time of year when we find great joy and inspiration in our gardens. However, there is a unique challenge in painting the garden en plein air. If we become too conscious of rendering each flower we can easily lose sight of the greater impression. We must paint the way we see. Painting from life can help us to retain that gestural style that gardens seem to demand and provide a perfect excuse to spend more hours outdoors in the garden. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

Garden with Path by Vincent van Gogh, oil painting.

As a result of our combined interests in gardens, flowers and painting, we have amassed a library of wonderful books about painting, about gardens, about paintings of gardens, and about the gardens of well-known artists. A few of them are listed here. The History of Gardens in Painting by Nils Büttner is an interesting compilation of paintings and murals created of gardens from as early as 20 B.C. to 2000 A.D. Büttner writes “As works of art, gardens were both fragile and evanescent, thanks to the eternal natural cycle of growth and decay. Painted representations of ancient gardens provide a better idea of their one-time splendor than the various descriptions by classical writers. Pictures of gardens also document developments in art history, both in garden design and in painting.”

Perhaps more than any other group of painters did before, the Impressionists explored, developed and popularized the garden as a subject for art. Many of them had gardens of their own which they painted repeatedly. We are the beneficiaries of their interest in the subject. But it was Monet who understood that he could design and build a garden for the express purpose of painting. As a result, he created the ne plus ultra example of an artist’s garden at his home in Giverny, a project that occupied him for the last 40 years of his life and gave birth to his greatest works. What a perfect feedback loop of intention, action, inspiration and ultimately financial support he created. It is a model many contemporary artists are working to emulate today.

–John Ann

Watch the video: Art in the Garden - Kids creating Monet, van Gogh, Klimt and Picasso-inspired art (June 2022).