Ever since we started this new garden theme, Linda has been telling me we should paint a garden that she painted in a few years ago when taking an art class taught by San Miguel artist, Keith Miller.1
Here is Linda’s watercolor from that class.
Using Keith Miller as a source, Linda tracked down the name of the garden owner and contact information. While Joyce Aaron still owns the lovely home and garden, she has moved away from San Miguel and currently rents the property. Not to be deterred, Linda got permission from Joyce and her renter for us to paint.
And what a magnificent garden it is. Constructed on an extremely steep site—there are parts of the garden that have a 45° slope—only the bravest and most adventurous would build a garden here. And Joyce found that person in landscape designer, Douglas MacLise,2 who designed a complex of paths and stairs between the several terraces which connect to an amphitheater in one direction, and, in another direction, lead through a plant covered tunnel to a fountain, and, in yet another direction, lead up many steps to a pool and decorative arch. It is a garden of beauty to explore and enjoy.
As Joyce wrote, “the garden is all Douglas…his love of the land, stone, trees, plants and all the sounds that surround it. Douglas was all about beauty.”
Constructed along with the house in the early 1990’s, the garden took about four years to complete and required tons of topsoil to be brought in as fill. At one point after construction was completed, a violet rainstorm washed away the topsoil requiring more to be brought in….one of the challenges of building on such a steep site.
Linda chose the same spot to paint this time showing more of the pool. It’s interesting to compare her paintings done years apart in the same place.
Always looking for shade, I painted comfortably from the entrance to the plant-covered tunnel which gave me a view of the amphitheater and beyond. This garden with pleasing vistas on so many levels is a challenge to represent with just two paintings.
I’ll help you visualize it with some explanations. To the left of my painting of the amphitheater stage are several levels of stone seating. The amphitheater was used to dramatic effect for performances as well as becoming a stage for mariachi bands on festive occasions.
I was quite impressed by the angle of the back wall of the garden which shows, in this painting, the dramatic slope of the ravine. There is more—between the two stone vases in the distance one can walk down to a lower level beyond the amphitheater. So many possibilities to paint….
GREENS—As Daniel Smith describes it, Perylene Green has an almost black tone that with a lighter application spreads to a beautiful blue/green wash. Linda used Perylene Green for the dark shadowed water of the pond in her more recent painting. As the manufacturer suggests, it does appear almost black. Where is the green?
1Keith Miller is an internationally acclaimed artist who resides in San Miguel. Please check out this website to see his art: http://keithmillerart.com/
2Douglas MacLise was a distinguished landscape designer whose presence lives on in the gardens he created.