Painting in the Lilacs - Perspectives from The Artist's Road

Painting in the Lilacs

Perspectives from The Artist's Road

Lilac Bush, 1889, Vincent van Gogh
Lilac Bush     1889      Vincent van Gogh

   It is once again that moment when the sublime fragrance of lilac is in the air. For those of us who enjoy working en plein air, particularly in the garden, there can be no more lovely a moment than this—painting in the lilacs. This is not a particularly easy subject to render. The beauty of lilacs lie in their tiny multi-petalled flowers borne in large oval clusters—a challenge to paint. The artist working to capture this is also working to convey the lilac's essence and even its delicate, dizzying fragrance in two dimensions!

Lilacs in a Vase, ca. 1882, Edouard Manet
Lilacs in a Vase     ca. 1882      Edouard Manet

   Cherry Valley Lilacs, in upstate New York, is a small historic lilac farm "dedicated to the preservation of rare and very fragrant varieties of lilacs". In addition to having an exhibit garden and lilac plant nursery, Charle-Pan and Dana Dawson practice the art of enfleurage. "Enfleurage is the French term for an ancient, labor intensive, and all-but vanished technique in which a fat is used to absorb scent from fresh exhaling flowers. Enfleurage captures the most delicate components of scent and the most comprehensive spectrum of scent molecules. Lilac does not lend itself to distillation and other methods collect only fractions of the scent and leave behind or destroy certain elements. Traditional enfleurage yields the most authentic essential oil of lilac."

View from Cherry Valley Lilacs
Photos courtesy Cherry Valley Lilacs

Lilacs from Cherry Valley Lilacs

The Art of Enfleurage

   Charle-Pan has extended an invitation to artists in the area to paint in the gardens.They ask that artists call ahead to make arrangements. They write that the best blooming time will be the 3rd and fourth weeks of May (followed by peonies the last week of May and first week of June.

   We would love to see your efforts, should you have the opportunity to paint in the lilacs! Visit the Cherry Vallery Lilacs website for more fascinating information.

   Cherry Valley Lilacs:  54 Lancaster Street, Cherry Valley, NY 13320. Phone:  518-366-3400.



Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
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