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Painting gardens – a path well travelled

by Helen White in Painting subjects

I waxed lyrical about Charleston in a much earlier post and my most recent painting is my own tribute to a garden – indeed a place – that had a massive impact on me when I first visited it over 20 years ago and which has retained a special place in my creative psyche ever since. My re-visit last summer – and the considerable number of photographs that have since flooded my photography website (view the slideshow here) – could only ever lead me down the route of painting the Charleston garden at some point reasonably soon and I recently turned my hand to the task. 

Yet, even inspite of the deep fondess that I have for the place, I still hesitated to paint it – and for much the same reason that I would hesitate to paint Monet’s garden at Giverny or Cezanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire – for how could my efforts stand up to the inevitable comparison with the artists who enjoyed a long intimacy with the place? For just a moment, it struck me that it might be somewhat presumptuous to paint a painter’s garden  – or, more strictly speaking, painters’ garden as Charleston was the shared home of artists Duncan Grant and Vanessa Bell who created the garden to the designs of fellow artist Roger Fry – and it certainly made me hesitate slightly longer than I normally would.

Anyway, after a small internal wrestle, paint it I did and here is the result; something quite different to my other most recent subjects (a Venetian canal, a study of peonies, a panoramic landscape) but a satisfying subject in lots of ways and a reminder that gardens – a profound love of mine and frequent target of my photographic efforts – could very well provide me with much more painting material if I had a mind to let them. And so my recent painting of a garden, “Charleston”, is currently on display at The Wey Gallery, Godalming in Surrey (not a million miles away from the garden itself) so if you are nearby, do pop in and take a look.

Find out more about Charleston – An Artists Home and Garden