"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home" (Twyla Tharp)

Iris …

Iris © Vicki Lee Johnston

A few years ago, back in the days when we could travel the world more freely I was lucky enough to visit France and the Provence region.  A highlight for me was to visit the hospital where Vincent Van Gogh stayed.  The gardens were magnificent, inspiring him to produce hundreds of beautiful paintings.  See my original post with all the lovely iris photos and backstory here:

The irises were coming into full bloom and I couldn't resist taking loads of photos in the hope of painting one later in time.  I don't normally work solely from a photograph but to honour a special place and time it's important not to get too stuck on perfect circumstances for subject matter. 

Taking one of many photographic memories

Beginning the first stages of my painting with initial washes.
You can see below my setup with the chosen photo on my iPad for reference as I worked.

Reference photo setup

Saint Paul Asylum in St Remy  

                                                               More layers and detail ...

Wonderful display of irises

Getting there ...

This was a fun painting to do because it gave me the opportunity to be a little more relaxed about the detail and features, it became a keepsake of sorts to remember this special time in France.  It was intended for an exhibition but after a missed deadline I decided it could stay with me a while longer.

Watercolour Iris -  © Vicki Lee Johnston

I hope everyone is keeping well and optimistic about days ahead when we can look forward to a return to travel and hugging and enjoying life at its fullest.  I have been blessed to spend this very unique time with my soul mate and precious family, being grateful for the simple things in life and honouring the natural world.

© Vicki Lee Johnston


  1. A beautiful story and a beautiful painting. I’m grateful for past travels and the inspiration they’ve given me.

    I look forward to the days when we can wander the world again.

    Your work is stunning, Vicki. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

  2. Stunning work, Vicki. ❤️

    I too long for the days when we can wander the world again.

    I’m grateful for the inspiration past travels have given me. I’m grateful for the time at home. But, oh to wander far-flung cities, mountains, oceans, and to hug people I haven’t seen for two or three years.

    I’m grateful and also longing in a challenging mix of emotions.

    1. Thank you Elaine, messages much appreciated!

      I agree, thank goodness we travelled while we could even if at the time it felt so indulgent … this was supposed to be our time to stretch our wings and take more time and space and now we’re just grateful we had the time away that we did.

      It will happen again I’m sure and it’s our responsibility to be as strong and healthy as we can be, so we can create more memories and broaden even more horizons!