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Getting A Glimpse at the Gardens of Paris…between raindrops!

Jardin des Tuileries and The LouvreGarden Greetings from Paris. I have been going crazy running around and visiting
some of the beautiful gardens and just trying to get a feel and glimpse of what to paint…. Some gardens have very iconic views that represent the garden so well….especially the formal gardens such a Jardin du Luxembourg and Les Tuileries…. Others have freer designs. I’m exploring them all and “Vive la difference!” I made quick sketches in watercolor crayon and paint. There is so much to see and paint, so here’s a little taste of painting the gardens…..Starting with Les Tuileries and the Louvre with the plantings of purple phlox this May,  accompanied by the photo below so you can see what inspired me.

Jardin des Tuileries et LouvreA Beautiful Day… rare in May with all the rain…. to walk in the garden!

Jardin des Tuileries and The Louvre

The foreshortened row of vibrant flowers under the shade called for intense color. I was trying to decide where the “lights” are, using the white paper, and deciding on the grass finally!

Jardin des Tuileries et Louvre

The quick glimpse approach of  a sketch of such a complex image makes me simplify…and edit….and sometimes invent as we see below….

Parc Bagatelle

This is the special exhibition gardens at the beautiful Parc Bagatelle, a part of the massive Bois de Bologne in the western part of Paris. Louis XV created the park. These pergolas display the lush ample growth of leaves that follow the Wisteria Blossoms that I had just missed by 2 weeks….So, et viola….


Sometimes a view calls for invention and I said to myself, Why not!

Jardin du Palais-Royale

And the shade provided by so many trees in grand “Allees”?…. What color is the shade of trees?…. Mixing yellow ochre and a purple is one way to go….Next to the Louvre, this is Le Jardin de Palais-Royale, which was closed the day I went, leaving me with a view of the shade and rows of green; another visit is “bien sur.”

Jardin du Palais-Royale

And the rows of Linden and Poplar trees are so majestic. The leaves are pruned into rectangular shapes to ensure that they have enough room as the trees row larger…. How does one paint the variety of greens?
Le Notre, the famed landscape architect of France, notable for Vaux le Vicomte, Versailles, etc. founded a principle of the eternally green garden by using evergreen and hornbeam trees and boxwood plantings… using nature to its best advantage and endowing France with its classically designed “very green” formal gardens. But learning to paint the variety of greens is a project in itself!  And Shapes! The topiary designs delight!

Jardin du Luxembourg

But for color, the flower plantings at the Jardin du Luxembourg, (created by Maria de Medici, King Henry IV’s widow in the early 1600s) bring vibrancy to the formal gardens of beautiful sculpture and urns and balustrades in stone and lush green lawns…….

Jardin du Luxembourg

The plantings are changed a few times a year with a variety of color themes….

Jardin du Luxembourg

I fell in love with the stone urns of potted geraniums, the statuary presences, the rational geometric design of the garden with balustraded terraces and the rows of trees with their stately tree trunk “columns.” It’s always wonderful to return to this garden….. I have a garden of thoughts when I see and walk in this garden!

Jardin du Luxembourg

The large trees seem to embrace this urn….as I eliminate the 21st century metal fencing!

Jardin du Luxembourg

Rain clouds gather around us in May and I could’t resist trying to capture the neutrals of the cool grays with the creamy tans and beiges of the Palais du Luxembourg and Urns of Putti holding a bowl of flowers.

Jardin du Luxembourg

The statue below the putti is praying for the rain to stop or go away! One learns to love painting in the rain and painting from photos you take when it is raining…..Sketching in Watercolor helps one to make decisions quickly about what’s the right color and about simplifying the design. They aren’t polished works but rather free and intuitive and show “process” so well, recording what inspired us! …inspite of rain!! In this May, don’t forget your umbrella, rain poncho and plastic bags when painting gardens in Paris! …..To be continued!

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