Pizza Pies and Lily Pads

“When the moon’s in the sky like a big pizza pie, that’s amore,” or so the song goes. When the lily pads in the pond are big as pizza pies, that’s Hughes Water Gardens in Wilsonville, Oregon. Who knew these round floating botanicals got so big?

I visited this stunning garden center in preparation for a great watercolor painting class on water lilies. As wonderful as google search is, there is nothing quite like doing your own homework and taking your own photographs—especially when you can do so at a renowned local water garden and, I’m told, the place where the best water gardens in Oregon begin and end with owner Eamonn Hughes. Eamonn is an artist who paints with water, reflected light from the sky, and opulent trees and plants that surround and inundate the playful and perfect ponds. Throw in some rocks, playful sculpture, a waterfall. You get the idea. These painted landscapes bubble with the sounds of nature and change color when the the light in the sky alters. The mood can misty and romantic (see photo with lavenders/pinks on his website), Zen, or more like a fairy tale from a faraway land (did someone say Ireland?) It is a lovely setting to gather inspiration and resources for creating artwork that lives on the wall, if you can’t have the pond in your backyard.

I like to prepare extensively before I teach a new art class whether that is an in-person watercolor painting class at the local community center or my home studio or online via Zoom. Today I wanted to observe the structure of the lilies as they float in the pond. What is happening just below the surface? Which shapes are reflections, and which shapes are underwater stems? The best watercolor painting classes are not just a few demos on technique and art elements like contrast or composition. The best art classes also incorporate inspiration pieces to motivate the project, resources from life/nature to draw fine details from, handouts which provide steps to back up the demo as it happens or for later review, and sometimes even samples of artwork from other artists who have tackled the subject with excellence. We learn from our teachers, and nature, other artists, and each other when we take an art class.

Monet was my original inspiration for our August waterlilies project, of course. Monet had the luxury of a gorgeous water garden in his back yard and a person to rake the surface of the water to enhance its perfect view. We have pictures of his richly layered oil paintings to motivate us, and we will have my photographs of Eamonn’s fabulous waterlilies to inspire us further. Thank you, Hughes Water Gardens.

So, if you want a big pizza pie, call Papa Murphy’s or Bellagios. If you want to see lily pads the size of actual pizza pies and other beautiful things that live in and around water, go to Hughes Waters Gardens. If you want to take the best watercolor planning class in person in the Portland area, or online via Zoom, sign up now to reserve your spot. It's all amore.