Few spaces appear to have sparked the creative imagination of artists quite like a garden. Whether it be the delicate yet abundant blooms that dominate the summer landscape in Renoir’s ‘Woman with a Parasol in a Garden’, or the abstract dabs of purple, green, brown and yellow oil that captured the rich variety in Cézanne’s ‘The Garden at Les Lauves’. The garden is a space of mystery, wonder, beauty and power, highly manicured or wild and untamed, across the breadth of artistic movements from impressionism, surrealism , expressionism to the contemporary. Discover below the artists who have found creative inspiration in gardens.
Artists inspired by gardens
Christine Clark, Bed of Roses
The garden of a dreamscape, Scottish contemporary artist Christine Clark carpets the floor of this fantastical scene with a flower meadow of reds, oranges, pinks and blues. The domestic space and the natural space are married here — lights hang from a wispy white cloud, pink roses appear to be growing from a duvet, all set to the backdrop of a magnificent midnight blue sky with strokes of glorious green that call to mind the aurora borealis.
An Edinburgh based artist well-known for reflecting ‘the beauty of the human spirit as it turns to nature for renewal’, Clark frequently depicts the connections we form with both the landscape and each other. She graduated from the Edinburgh College of Art in 2006 and has been exhibited internationally. christineclark.net.
Edvard Munch, Apple Tree in the Garden
Norwegian artist Edvard Munch was one of the leading lights in the Expressionist movement, and himself a keen gardener. The subject of the apple tree is a centrepiece in many of his paintings; a symbol many critics consider to be imbued with an inward psychology. This Particular painting was based on a tree in his own garden in Ekley, Norway. Like the sky, the trunk is a striking electric blue growing proudly and bountifully out of the bright green and yellow brush strokes of Munch’s hilly garden.
Norman Ackroyd RA, Midsummer Morning, Charleston
The gardens of Charleston, the home of modernist artists Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant, are the subject of Norman Ackroyd’s monochromatic etching. When the house was brought by Bell and Grant, art critic, friend and other notable member of the Bloomsbury Group Roger Fry redesigned the garden to include paths and flowerbeds. However, between the years 1978-1983 (the gardens were not open to the public until 1986) when Ackroyd was visiting the farmhouse, it had been severely neglected and the gardens were overgrown, creating a mysterious, Atmospheric and wild landscape for him to etch.
Norman Ackroyd RA is a graduate of Leeds College of Art and London’s Royal College of Art, and became a Royal Academician in 1991. royalacademy.org.uk.
Monet, The Artist’s Garden at Giverny
The French landscape painter famously declared that he “perhaps owes[d] having become a painter to flowers.” During the last few decades of his life, his garden at Giverny became his principal source of inspiration. In his distinctive impressionist style, he beautifully captured the perennials, irises and roses that he diligently tended to when he laid his paintbrush down. His horticultural obsession led not only to stunning landscapes like The Artist’s Garden at Givernybut intricate paintings of the plant species themselves, like the 1884 Red and Pink Poppies and the 1885 White Azaleas.
Joanne Short, Daisies and Violets, St Mawes
You may recognize Cornish artist Joanne Short’s distinctive block-colour landscapes from the ITV series ‘The Painted Garden’ where she was a featured artist. Cornwall is notable for its tropical plants and with its exquisite glistening coastal waters, quaint harboursiff and impressive makes for a painters paradise. In Short’s paintings the flowers tend to dominate the bottom third of the composition, and in this delightfully vibrant canvas of St Mawes they are set to the backdrop of crystal waters, the sandy curve of beach and charming stone cottages that sit above the harbour.
In 1988, Short studied at the Falmouth College of Art and then traveled to Frosinone in Italy, where she completed her degree in Fine Art and Decoration at the Academy of Fine Art. Johndyergallery.com
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