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Lilies, acrylic on canvas, (100x100cm)
Lilies, acrylic on canvas, (100x100cm)

The Artist's Garden - Be Inspired to Paint your own Garden using Acrylics


Mariusz Kaldowski - Posted on 20 Jul 2012

Capturing the moment

A few years ago I moved to Kent and began a partnership with the National Trust in south-east England. I have been painting their properties for the last three years and I try to show them embedded in the surrounding landscape. In the past I used to paint the whole picture in-situ, but in time my impressionistic soul took over and I wanted to capture on canvas the exact moment that inspired me. I found that working on location had often spoiled my aspirations as long observation of my surroundings often killed the original flash of inspiration.
Hence I began to take photographs, although I still used my sketchbook to help me unravel some of the finer details later in the studio, and my memory of the light and shadows.


At home my studio is in the conservatory, which looks out on to my own green patch. As the garden has matured it has become a wonderful source of inspiration – I once completed a series of paintings entitled ‘People are like Gardens; Gardens are like People’. This time round I needed to paint ‘My Garden – the Garden of Me’. I began to take photos of the garden in diverse conditions: the early morning sun, evening mists, rainy reflections, autumn, snow-covered leaves. I snapped every light and shadow I saw. Armed with hundreds of photos, I had the material to begin my first painting.

I break the whiteness of the canvas with diluted burnt sienna, using the widest brush I have. As a rule I go down in size in stages, using series 202-205, right up until I paint the last blinks of light with soft riggers (on location I use the handy Series R Prolene Plus retractable). Once the canvas is completely covered I paint layers of purples and cool greens to create shadows.

The Pots, acrylic on canvas, (100x100cm)

The Pots (above) were hiding in the shadow, with the sun’s rays falling in front; it’s as if the flowers were irrelevant as the sunshine created a ballet of shapes on the stone tiles. The aim of Invitation (below) was to capture an interrupted moment, with the sun falling on the tablecloth, the wine glasses and the crockery. I used lots of splashing effects to smear the figurative detail and drown it in flickering dusty droplets.

Invitation, acrylic on canvas, (80x100cm)

The stage of Greyhound (below) is the nearest to the studio and to my heart. It is about my memories and my dreams.
Hanging in the shadows of the ivy there is a small sculpture of a sleeping greyhound that is important to me: I once owned a greyhound and have memories of it curling up to sleep. I left the statue sleeping in a cool shadow. My granted wishes are on the next step: the stone vase full of long grass and a female bust are some of the elements of the dream garden that I promised myself years ago. My dreams came true with the flowers and the sun enveloping them.

Greyhound, acrylic on canvas, (80x100cm)

The lilies in the painting of the same name (see top right) emit an incredible fragrance of pink and purple. Their backdrop is an intense shadow, with sunshine pulling them out of darkness.
They kept me company so often that I had no choice but to paint them. I tried to depict the rays of sunshine diagonally touching the flower heads of the roses as well as the lilies. The sharp contours of the flowers were created with the use of light and shadow, rounded with sharp brush strokes creating bright shapes against a soft background.

Lastly, in Flower Pots (below), the pots are shown from a different angle, with different hues and shades: a mass of flowers with undefined plants behind them.
I have just embarked on the second leg of my journey to create new portraits of my garden. Looking through the pile of beautiful images, I feel this journey might never end. The only problem is how to best depict these wonders on canvas – one little garden, and so many opportunities and possibilities to show off its extraordinary beauty, largely due to the changing of seasons, colours and the main culprit: sunlight.

Flower Pots, acrylic on canvas, (80x80cm)

Mariusz’s materials

I use Gerstaecker or Winsor & Newton canvases and acrylic paints. I tend to create my own colours (except burnt sienna), by mixing the primary and basic colours from Winsor & Newton Galeria acrylics. These are: cyan, ultramarine, magenta, cadium red, cadium yellow and lemon yellow. In other words, two each of blues, reds and yellows – cool and warm – plus white for mixing. This seemingly limited palette gives me an infinite array of colours.
I use Pro Arte brushes, and I think I have nearly every size and shape available.
The vital tool in my studio is a hairdryer. Drying the layers of colour quickly allows for impulsive painting and fast layering of paints.

Mariusz Kaldowski has an MA in Fine Arts from the Academy of Fine Arts, Krakow and is a painter, printmaker and graphic designer. Since coming to the UK in 1996 he has had over 156 exhibitions, including the Barbican Centre, Gallery 27, Arndean Gallery and the Museum of Lancashire.
For a number of years Mariusz has been a family portrait painter for Fred Olsen Cruise Liners. Since 2002 he has been Artist-in- Residence at Regent’s Park, London and since 2009 has worked with the National Trust as their Resident Artist for the South East region.
In 2000 he received an award for ‘Expressing the Essential Spirit of Holland Park’. In 2006 he won the The Artist’s Purchase Prize at Patchings and the Free Painters & Sculptors Society Nina Hosali 1st Prize.
Mariusz has also created paintings to illustrate pieces of classical music, including Four Stages of Life, a 22x1.5m frieze inspired by Vivaldi’s Four Seasons; he has recently completed four annexes to this frieze to accompany Piazzolla’s version of the Four Seasons. Another commission was to prepare a triptych to commemorate the Year of Chopin in 2010.  See more of his work on his website - www.kaldowskigallery.co.uk

The full article by Mariusz can be seen in the August 2012 issue of The Artist

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