Charles Neal: The Painted Garden

Charles Neal

The Painted Garden

The act of painting is a creative process of relating and expressing the world and the many facets through one’s own internal perception, it induces an inquiry and searches for meaning, appreciation, and affirmation. It is a journey that is ever evolving as one proceeds through life, so consequently, values, priorities, and perceptions change along the way.

All art, by its nature, is an act of sharing; a dialogue to be had with each person that experiences, engages and responds to the created form that is presented.

Much of the above sentiments apply to gardening. The role of a garden can serve as a vital function in our lives, providing an opportunity to relate directly with the creative force of nature, and so becoming co-creators.

This engagement connects us with our forebears, continuing the act of linking our physical and spiritual needs to the environment about us. In working in spatial terms with color, fragrance, shape and texture through our individual personality, we can discover our potential in creating an ambiance, and in so doing, provide enjoyment, peace, fulfillment, inspiration and a place for reflection as well as sharing.

Primarily working as an Impressionist painter which involves painting and referencing subject matter in the ‘en plein air’ mode; the physicality of a location along with the accompanying sounds, activities, the sense of time and season that make up the ambiance impinge on composition and painting language.

This is especially appropriate when painting gardens and parkland, where all these factors are paramount in determining an artistic response.

Gardens as a subject can be viewed as being symbolic of society’s relationship with its surroundings and with itself. Moreover, the creation of gardens are part of the manifested human expressions of self-realization, identity and joy in living and are the building blocks of an ascending civilization or society.  Many means of achieving this aim have been achieved by incorporating elements of statuary, architecture, water features and landscaping in various combinations and degrees.

At the outset of painting gardens what initially impressed me, and continues to be the case, is the determination, perseverance and unique personal engagement and creative force that is a definition and mannerism of character, whether by an individual or group that in many cases becomes their life’s passion and identity.

The first ‘Painted Garden’ exhibition was held in 1994 at the Museum of Garden History, located in Lambeth, London. The collection of works portrayed the garden at Barnsley House of the Plants-woman, Rosemary Verey. She was renowned for her color schemes, border planting and her famous Laburnum Walk. Rosemary Verey was inspirational in the revival of the Potager, seen not merely for growing vegetables, but also as an art form using colors, textures and mixture of underplanting. She also helped His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales redesign the kitchen garden at Highgrove in Gloucestershire. The introduction of a Potager into English gardens became the height of fashion.

The curated collection of paintings that form this latest ‘Painted Garden’ exhibition is varied in terms of location and style. Having historical importance from a horticultural perspective and are still relevant today.

It is most fitting to celebrate ‘The Painted Garden – The Art of Gardening’, with ‘The Garden Club of America’- founded in 1913 – ‘The Garden Club Palm Beach’ {established in 1928, and joined the Garden Club of America in 1931}, through this benefit exhibition event.

Charles Neal – 2019

Natalee BruceCharles Neal: The Painted Garden