Lake Life, 16×20, oil on linen

Lake Life, 16x20, oil on linen  © Nelia Harper
Lake Life, 16×20, oil on linen © Nelia Harper

During the heat of last summer, I was commissioned to create a plein air painting of a backyard and garden.  Not only was the painting planned as a Christmas gift for her husband, the painting also commemorated the work he did on the garden in preparation for their daughter’s wedding.

I was honored to be part of their special time, and painting undisturbed in their backyard with a gentle breeze, the calmness of the lake and the profusion of flowers was my version of a painter’s paradise.

Between the heat and a short window of her husband’s absence, I had two days for painting on location.   The client offered a little guidance, sharing the work that he had done and the plans for their daughters wedding. To make the most of the time, I quickly scouted the yard, looking at various compositions and taking photographs to review later that day.

Working from memory and a few on-site sketches, I suggested three viewpoints and ideas.  We agreed on the final composition.  The first day, I placed the main masses, creating the composition and the foundation for the painting.  The next day was spent refining the drawing, and creating the profusion of flowers and balancing the color while remaining true to the feeling of chaos and order.  

I wanted an impressionistic feeling throughout the painting, a sense of a hazy summer day, with the lake peaking through the trees and the light bouncing off the flowers.

What do you think?

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