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On the Easel: Parents’ Garden

(My “On the Easel” posts give you a behind-the-scenes look at what I am working on, what went well, what went wrong, and things I learn.)

Let’s take a look at how I painted Parent’s Garden. This was a challenging painting of a familiar subject.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022
Dan Scott, Parents’ Garden, 2022

Reference Photo

Below is the reference photo I painted from. Feel free to paint it for yourself. Here is a link to the full-size image.

Dan Scott, Parents’ Garden, 2022, Reference Photo


  • Oil on Ampersand Gessoboard, 18×24 inches.
  • Main colors: ultramarine blue, cobalt blue, manganese blue (for parts of the sky), cadmium red, alizarin crimson, cadmium yellow, cadmium yellow light, viridian green, and titanium white.

Refer to my supply list for more details on what I use.

Notes and Lessons Learned

  • This was a challenging scene to paint. To simplify the process, I broke it down into segments that I could focus on one by one: the grass; the plants, flowers, and trees; the buildings in the background; and the sky.
  • Each segment is unique and required a different approach. For the grass, I worked all prima (wet on wet) with multicolored strokes and thick, visible brushwork. For the plants, flowers, and trees, I built up layers of detail and distinct color. For the buildings, I used flat brushwork and simple color shapes. For the sky, I used color gradation and thick, dabbing strokes.
  • The white flowers on the right-hand side were difficult to capture. Notice how they are partly in light and partly in shadow. This invites all kinds of color perception problems. In particular, the parts in shadow appear lighter than they really are. To get it right, I tried to see the colors objectively. I also used small dabs to test my colors before committing.
  • This is a familiar scene for me. I spent much of my childhood playing in this garden. This familiarity surely influences how I paint it. For example, I might be prone to exaggerate certain details due to my favorable experiences with them.

Progress Shots

Step 1: Thin wash of ultramarine blue. Use paper towel to lift paint from light areas. Roughly map out the dark areas.

Tip: Staining the canvas is a perfect time to warm up your hands and get a feel of the subject.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022 WIP 1

Step 2: Work on the grass in a direct manner. I used multicolored strokes and thick, visible brushwork for this.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022 WIP 4

Step 3: Work on the sky and buildings in the background.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022 WIP 5

Step 4: Add detail to the plants and trees.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022 WIP 6

Step 5: Make sure all the parts work together as a whole.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022 WIP 7
Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022 WIP 8

Step 6: Finishing touches, sign, and photograph.

Dan Scott, Parents' Garden, 2022, 1200W
Dan Scott, Parents’ Garden, 2022

Detail Shots

Thanks for Reading!

I appreciate you taking the time to read this post and I hope you found it helpful. Feel free to share it with friends. If you ever want to learn more, you should check out my Painting Academy course.

Happy painting!

Dan Scott

Draw Paint Academy

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Dan Scott is the founder of Draw Paint Academy. He's a self-taught artist from Australia with a particular interest in landscape painting. Draw Paint Academy is run by Dan and his wife, Chontele, with the aim of helping you get the most out of the art life. You can read more on the About page.

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