Blossoms and Brushstrokes

Captivated by the beauty outside their own windows, artists have immortalized gardens throughout history. 

Most famous perhaps is Claude Monet, who captured the many colors, textures, and moods of his garden in Giverny. Paintings such as his “Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge” are characterized by their loose brushwork, vibrant colors, and emphasis on light and atmosphere. His garden was a constant source of inspiration for him, and he painted it in various seasons and times of day, capturing the changing hues of the garden with his keen observation and masterful technique.

Working in watercolor, many other notable painters, including John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Paul Cézanne, also turned to gardens for inspiration. Showcasing a wide range of styles, techniques, and interpretations, their work shares a common theme of celebrating the beauty and serenity of nature through the delicate and translucent medium of watercolor.

John Singer Sargent (American, born Italy, 1856-1925). Boboli Gardens, ca. 1906. Opaque and translucent watercolor with graphite underdrawing, 10 x 14in. (25.4 x 35.6cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by Special Subscription, 09.818

Boboli Gardens” by John Singer Sargent: One of the most compelling features in Boboli Gardens is the manner in which Sargent used strokes of white impasto to depict water spilling from the fountains. The watercolor is opaquely painted, with zinc white mixed into most of the colors. Although it is difficult to see, there is extensive graphite underdrawing in this work. The underdrawing for the arm and back of the figure on the right fountain does not correspond to that of the final painting.

“Flower Garden and Bungalow, Bermuda;” Winslow Homer; 1899; watercolor and graphite on off-white wove paper; 13 15/16 x 20 15/16 in.; Brooklyn Musuem; Amelia B. Lazarus Fund, 1910

“Flower Garden and Bungalow, Bermuda” by Winslow Homer: Celebrated for its vibrant colors, loose brushwork, and impressionistic style, Homer’s painting features a lush tropical garden in Bermuda.

The Garden at Les Lauves; oil on canvas; 25 3/4 x 31 7/8 in.; The Phillips Collection; acquired 1955

“The Garden at Les Lauves” by Paul Cézanne: Showcasing Cézanne’s unique style of combining abstraction and representation, this watercolor painting by the French artist depicts a garden in Les Lauves, France, with trees, flowers, and a distant mountain in the background.

Wrap up National Garden Month with a painting inspired by your own outdoor space! Whether you’re working from life or from photos, Jean Haines has all the tips you need for flower painting success.


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