Since I work from home, alone in my studio, it is necessary to sometimes get out and explore a new place and be around other people. Oatlands Plantation in Leesburg, VA is a place I have been meaning to visit for quite a while, so on a lovely spring day, I went there with my camera and sketchbook. Although many of the flowers were not yet in bloom on this early spring day, I couldn't have picked a more wonderful day to explore this beautiful garden. I spent a few happy hours sketching and taking photos. Early on a weekday, the gardens were fairly empty, allowing me to freely explore and imagine what it will be like in a few weeks, when the gardens are ablaze with color. I plan to make another visit then as well.
Once home, I downloaded my photos and printed out a few of my favorites. Each day, I have made a new gouache sketchbook painting from my reference. I start each day with sketchbook work, and I find it to be a nice way to warm up for a day of painting. A sketchbook is a wonderful place to play and experiment. Because it is purely for myself, I am free to experiment and make some messes. It is freeing to work on something that is purely for my own enjoyment, with no expectations, and many times my sketchbook work has turned into a painting or design project. Sketchbook work and coffee are my way of getting the creative gears turning in the morning.
The above sketch quickly became my favorite, and I have already started working up an acrylic painting of this man enjoying a walk in the garden. He was examining all the plants and I like to think that he was getting ideas for his own garden.
As beautiful as the building is, I actually did not go inside the house. I found so much inspiration in the gardens, I felt that entering the house would be a visual overload, so this is as close as I got. I will explore the interior on a future visit.
Since I have been obsessed with succulents lately, I just had to paint the ones I found in the greenhouse. I was fascinated by the brick and stone around the window, and this view also appealed to my current fascination with limited palate.
I hope you have enjoyed this painterly visit to a beautiful place in Loudoun County, Va. I have had so much fun with this project, I plan to make another field trip next week. I already have a place in mind, so check in with my Instagram feed to find out where it will be.