As I was preparing for a group of artist friends who are going to Italy with me this June to come over and paint in the gallery, I pulled up some of the photos of past trips to San Giovanni De’Asso so we might paint from them. There are literally hundreds of photos from the last workshop I taught at Villa La Consuma. Now, years later, I saw these memories through fresh eyes, and I found the inspiration for these studio paintings.

I came across this amazing photo of our villa, taken from a distant hillside, looking through the yellow broom.


"Broom" is a yellow wildflower that grows on the roadside during hot summers in Italy. I think they used to make actual brooms from it. It’s a lovely salt marsh-like bush with tall, spiky blades, about as tall as my chest. It has a sweet-smelling, smallish, sunshine-yellow flower that looks a little like our Southern Yellow Jasmine bloom.

When I went into the studio to work on a huge 48 x 60-inch canvas that I had primed with an abstract underpainting weeks and weeks ago – that little seed of inspiration from my photo journey of past adventures came to me and said, “Paint Me.”


I’m a big fan of using inspiration right when it comes to me, and I’m a believer that if you don’t use the inspiration that shows up freely on your shoulders and give it life, it will travel to another source of energy to be “born”. That’s kind of an out-there thought, but really, I think that’s true.

I first pulled two little 12 x 12 canvases and started mapping out a plan for using this yellow broom in the foreground (front) and the distant terracotta-colored villas in the background. Working quickly in acrylic with a palette knife and a roller, I laid out two plans on the 12x12-inch canvases before I started on the large 48 x 60-inch canvas. Here are the results.


I was pleased with the looseness and the color palette of yellows and purples with tiny bits of greens, very different from my usual colors. 

I used aqua blue, mid-blue, gray, yellow, cadmium red, and white in this mixture.

For my artists friends: I challenge you to go through your vacation photos with the goal of choosing no more than 10 of your favorites, and put these top 10 in a file called “to paint”.  Hopefully your very own seeds of inspiration will come to you and guide you along the way to your next painting. Wishing you happy painting!


 - Karen

Make your own seeds of inspiration this summer.

Sign up for Karen's workshop in Italy this June 2024.

"Holiday Dreams I"

Original acrylic by Karen Hewitt Hagan

12 x 12 in.

"Holiday Dreams II"

Original acrylic by Karen Hewitt Hagan

12 x 12 in.

"On Holiday"

Original acrylic by Karen Hewitt Hagan

48 x 60 in.

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