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American Giverny

I've become fascinated with the American Impressionists, specifically the tonalist who lived and painted and planted gardens in Old Lyme, Connecticut, and rented rooms in the beautiful home of Florence Griswold at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.

Griswold's home is referred to as the “American Giverny,” and famously she encouraged painters to take up gardening as a means of nourishing their creativity. The warm and welcoming gardens were meant to be lived in and tinkered with rather than simply observed.

Imagine.... renting a room... a huge, historic home for only $7 a week with all your painting friends....

on the banks of the Lieutenant River...

... and spending warm, sunny days laughing, painting, and gardening for the entire summer.

...taking a break to enjoy afternoon tea on vintage transferware...

...or swimming, fishing, canoeing or picnicking on the lawn at the banks of the Lieutenant River.


...being encouraged to indulge your Creative Spirit with God's colorful palette....Flowers!

And in the evening....

or on rainy days, fill your time with song, music, reading..., writing, illustration, conversation....

Or painting on the walls!!!!

Or turning the panels on a door into a diptych!!!

And if this could ever get old, wander farther.... every day.... a little farther with your watercolors and sketchbook in hand and explore the Connecticut River which empties a short distance away into the Long Island Sound, part of the Atlantic Ocean....the sea! With its sand, and shells, and crashing waves, and birds.

Imagine your dog is welcome here.

This is the stuff dreams are made of.

I have a new bucket list item.... to visit Old Lyme, Connecticut, and specifically the Florence Griswold Museum. To tour the museum, historic home, gallery and gardens, it's suggested you allow 2-3 hours. I want to go for at least 2-3 days!!! And paint! And photograph! And read! And collect seeds! And learn! .... And Lunch!!!

Even the menus at Café Flo are little painter's palettes.

And dine on the Veranda.

And before packing up and heading home....

... spend a few quiet moments counting my blessings, enjoying a spectacular sunset over Goose Island, watching more than 5000 Swallows dance and descend into the reeds, gathering with their swallow-tailed friends and resting here before migrating for the winter.

In Creative Spirits painting class this week, I shared a little history of the Old Lyme Art School, and we studied a painting by Matilda Browne called Peonies, ca. 1907. Oil on wood, 11.5 x 14 inches which is on display at the Florence Griswold Museum and Gallery.

Here is a my study of her beautiful painting...

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