Does Gardening Inspire Art? How So?
In times like these, artists seek solace, peace and inspiration in myriad ways. With little choice but to spend more time at home and in nature, many have turned to gardening as a hobby. While some have been gardening for years, for others it is a brand new adventure. We asked our member artists to share how gardening inspires their art and their lives.
Marian Dioguardi, Painter
Gardens have always been a summertime topic in my urban Italian American family. For years I thought all gardens consisted of tomatoes, peppers and eggplants with a scattering of marigolds. Then I went to England. There I became acquainted for the first time with ornamental gardens and the lush English landscape beauty that inspires them.
In 1996 my husband bought a home with “the bones” of what was once an inspired Italianate garden but now become ruins; missing stone columns, filled in reflecting pool, fallen pergolas and cracked and decaying structures. It’s been our “folly” to bring back the a beauty to the garden, and to put life on the bones.
Inspired by trips to Italy and one garden specifically, Giardini Botanici Hanbury where the English love for gardens met the Italian landscape, our garden has no formal structure or definition. I plant what what I want to see and my husband provides structure that supports the vision.
Nancy Boyle, Artist
When I was 7 years old, my father was a young lawyer and he won his first big case. He and my mother used the money to buy a large old colonial house on Fairmont Hill in Hyde Park, a part of Boston.
I remember the first day we went to the new house. I wandered outside to a large plot of pink peonies in full bloom. I had never seen such beautiful flowers and I fell in love with them and took on their care. That was the beginning of a special connection to nature.
Now I live in a house with another garden, mostly tended by my husband Jim. He has added peonies over the years because I love them. I use them as subjects and have added them to note cards in my web store and gallery, Nellenby.
Web store & Gallery - Thinking of you note cards
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Sonia Hale, Painter
Cultivating a garden is similar to creating a painting in that feeling of pride of creation. With the awareness in March of the onset of a long period of mostly solitude with family about to set in, I decided to plant a vegetable and flower garden in my backyard. I had delightful memories of Monet's garden in Giverny from a few years back and I wanted to create an uplifting place for my family to rest and feel nurtured. Looking ahead to look back, I hoped that when my family and I look back on this unusual time, we would remember the stunning flowers, the peaceful yard and the family bonding we enjoyed, while eating delicious meals we cooked with the vegetables and herbs from the garden. In addition, I was interested in painting more florals, which have been a summertime painting subject for years.
In addition to vegetables and herbs, I have grown clematis, dahlia, David Austin roses, hydrangea and phlox, which have made their way into floral paintings. Time spent painting these gorgeous flowers has brought me much peace.
In addition, I have remembered my favorite places that I have visited over the years and have painted new paintings of these locations— Nantucket, Miami and Italy. These paintings will be available and added to my website soniahalefineart.com over the next few weeks. Commissioned portraits are available as well: soniahale.com
Jean-Pierre Ducondi, Painter and Photographer
My wife and I have a real passion for gardening. Since we moved to New England our garden has been a work in progress and a constant hobby. Until recently we have moved our interest in growing towards using native plants and shrubs which will help with reducing maintenance and increasing pollinators attraction. For example we are removing invasive shrubs from our garden (e.g. burning bush, buckthorn, honeysuckle) and growing instead chokeberry, serviceberry and fragrant sumac. We have added native milkweed (or as Doug Talamy calls it "Monarchs' delight").
There is not a day that goes by, without my taking my camera to capture the beauty that surrounds us.
All artwork from Jean-Pierre Ducondi can be viewed and purchased on his website - https://jeanpierre-ducondi.pixels.com
Barney Levitt, Painter
I walk daily around the gardens on my property. There is so much beauty one can capture in a garden; from the blooming flowers, to the hummingbirds, bees, and insects which a garden attracts. My daily wanderings in my garden is a form of meditation and retreat from the daily bombardment of bad news. I draw inspiration from my walks, and the beauty of nature reminds me of what's important.
Jennifer Dowling, Painter
I love gardens and try my best in our yard, but don’t have enough patience or commitment to make it truly beautiful! So I appreciate lovely, tended gardens when I encounter them. Perennials can be ideal since they are low maintenance and less orderly than annuals. We have a vegetable garden that the deer tend to get into, and I have perennial flowers and bushes that I fill in with annuals for color. Otherwise, much of my photographic inspiration comes from gardens (especially flowers!). I recently took photos of my sister’s garden with some beautiful perennial flowers. I have created large pastel paintings on printed photographs of flowers, as well as something I call “digital watercolors” that I adjust with photoshop, output with an inkjet printer, then use water and a brush to move the ink around (hence, making the print look like a watercolor). I have also attached magnification lenses to a 35mm DSLR camera for close-ups. These combine a dramatic focal point with blurred edges, creating an interesting aesthetic.
I visit gardens a lot and stop to take photos when I see a garden center, pick-your-own, or a private garden along the road. Sometimes it is a deliberate destination, such as botanical gardens or arboretums. The natural colors and textures of flowers and plants delight one’s vision and we are naturally drawn to them. They also typically elicit a happy, calm feeling. As a result, I like to capture this beauty with photography for further art.
Rozsi Moser, Painter
Long before I was a painter, I was a gardener. Forty years ago, my mother handed me some tulip and daffodil bulbs she’d ordered and said, “Here you go, you're on your way.” And I've never stopped. Whether I’ve had a postage stamp-sized yard or an acre of land, I’ve always filled the landscape with flowers and plants that last from the earliest of spring to the final days of autumn. Today, I have ten separate gardens in my back yard that I lovingly tend, all with their own personality.
Gardening is a passion that influences my paintings, especially those in my flower series. From the riotous perennial gardens come the blowsy bouquets of peonies, lilacs, lilies, and roses. From the shade gardens, the varied leaves of the hosta, the delicate blossoms of the heuchera and astilbe fill the vases. Each flower in its own time, each painting in its own time.