Painting, Planning, and the Process

Group editor, Jean Denney, discusses her plans for getting through the winter and finding inspiration for a spring garden.

By Jean Denney
Winter 2018

I’m a plein air painter, which means I paint outdoors, directly in nature. Painting this way means I have to work quickly because light often changes faster than I can set up my paper and palette. It’s frustrating and rewarding. When the landscape proves too challenging, I’ll turn my attention to minutia; a sprig of something close at hand or a small clump of wildflowers.

Watercolor painting in nature, like gardening, requires patience and planning, but at its most successful, it requires flexibility. Both processes can be a bit counterintuitive. Painting requires that you think ahead, leaving space for light colors and highlights – the touches that make objects take on three dimensions. Once you add a dark, it’s difficult to remove it. It’s a process of add and subtract, plan and improvise, make and unmake. For me, it’s just like garden planning and growing.

van-gogh
Irises by Vincent Van Gogh.



Why do this when I could just as easily capture the beauty that surrounds me with a camera, especially when so many fantastic images have already been rendered—particularly botanical illustrations? I’m in it for the process, the experiment, the excitement. Failures can produce our best work, and while I can be disappointed if I’ve ruined a perfectly good pack of seeds, I know I’ve learned something invaluable for my next attempt.




Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 38% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $24.95!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube