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Painting gardens – a path well travelled

by Helen White in Painting subjects


Charleston garden painting

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  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



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