"What are those pink flowers?" a friend from the West coast wrote. "They're azaleas", I wrote back... but wait I thought... I don't know if she will believe that answer. It's a good question to keep in mind when one is attempting to paint a scene the viewer might never have experienced. I grew up in the wide open ( but arid) spaces of the west coast myself. A large azalea on the west coast might reach two foot tall and three foot wide. Had I not seen it with my own eyes, I might have suspected that the profusion of vegetation was a bit overstated if not outright fabricated. Let me assure you, it is neither.
|Small Part of Brookgreen Gardens' Pine forest in Spring|
The sheer size of the flowering plants in Spring can be overwhelming. In the older established gardens, the azaleas can reach twenty feet, and the flowering trees are taller.
The photo below will give you some sense of the heights... They dwarf me.
|CC with azaleas at Magnolia Gardens|
And they are everywhere
|Magnolia Gardens path|
There are acres and acres of woodland paths and walks like these at at Magnolia Gardens and Brookgreen Gardens
|Brookgreen Gardens walkway|
Even personal gardens are a mass of blooms.
It can all be a bit overwhelming. The sheer profusion makes it hard to know what to focus upon, much less even get a clean photo of it.. Painting the scene becomes an exercise in deciding on what is the center of interest, and trying to remove anything in the scene that might distract the viewers' focus.
|Brookgreen Garden's Gate|
The photo above shows the garden gate where I painted the scene below. ( en plein air not from the reference photo). Far from being overstated, I actually had to subdue a lot of color and edit out many shapes to keep the painting from seeming cluttered and even garish.
|My painting of "The Garden Gate"|
Maybe that is why so few artists tackle full blown flower filled Spring landscapes. They require hard mental work and are very tricky to pull off well.