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Garden Gals an art club of blooming talent
When Carolyn McLaughlin plans her spring planting, she knows her garden just can't look good in her backyard, it also has to look good on paper. Or canvas.
McLaughlin is one of the Garden Gals, a group of about 15 members of the New Westminster Horticultural Society who meet monthly to sketch and paint in each other's gardens, the gardens of Queen's Park, or even further afield on special trips.
As she fills the flower beds around her Sapperton home, McLaughlin says she seeks out plants she knows will complement each other, or offer interesting shapes and textures to tantalize her artistic eye.
"I can see the garden as a painting," says McLaughlin.
Capturing the blossoms of their labour is just another extension of their creative sensibilities, says another of the Garden Gals, Merril Hall.
"It's a natural," says Hall. "Gardening is a form of art."
One that's fleeting, changing weekly, daily and even hourly at the whim of the weather. Capturing a garden in a sketch book or on a sheet of canvas freezes it forever in a moment of time.
"You know it's not going to last, so you must capture it now," says McLaughlin.
Studying the blossoms and leaves for their art has also given the Garden Gals a deeper appreciation for the boundless beauty and variety of nature, says Linda Cant.
"It makes you more aware of the shapes and colours of the garden," says Cant. "My usual perceptions have been enhanced. You see the gardens in a different light."
"You take the time to really look at the garden and study it," says McLaughlin. "Most people don't stop to look at the centre of a flower."
The Garden Gals came together about five years ago, mostly by serendipity. Bonded by their passion for gardening, most didn't know of each other's private abilities as artists. Gathering regularly, they're able to share their skills and knowledge as gardeners and as artists, providing support, encouragement and a critical eye for each other's work.
"Getting together as a group gave us confidence," says Hall. "It's organic, it doesn't have to be correct. You can play with it any way you want."
"You just can't imagine all the different ways to paint the same plant," says Cant.
"It's an affirmation that you have some talent," says McLaughlin.
The Garden Gals will have about 30 of their favourite pieces on display in McLaughlin's garden at 406 Buchanan Ave. on Aug. 11 and 12 as part of the New Westminster Cultural Crawl. It's the third time they've participated in the event, but the first time they're showing their work amidst some of the very same flowers and plants that comprise the paintings.
"It's a big step to put your work out there," says McLaughlin. "It changes your comfort zone."
The Garden Gals aren't limited to just women. For more information about joining them, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the Cultural Crawl, go to www.newwestculturalcrawl.com