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Deakin's Abstract Garden

MommyO guides you along mini-adventures in fine art and fun art.

Explore Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights by Jane Deakin.

Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights by Deakin as inspiration for Deakin's Abstract Garden blog
'Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights' (1988) — Jane Deakin — Oil on Canvas

"I like to break the rules if it means achieving a more zingy picture." Jane Deakin

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Jane Deakin paints an abstract garden in her famous painting named Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights. Both the artist and the painting are perfect examples of Post-Modernism, a late-20th-century art movement that questioned any notion of what art ‘is’ or ‘should be.’

Abstract art’ is ­— an unrealistic portrayal of the real world by an artist. It often includes everyday objects, presented in a manner which makes them challenging to recognize.

Deakin is a famous British artist — born in Kennington, London — who won her first art competition at the young age of 13 with a field of poppies painted unconventionally using watercolors and oil paints. In her own words — those of a true post-modernist — “I like to break the rules if it means achieving a more zingy picture!”

On any given day, you’ll find Jane Deakin painting in her perfectly-lit studio on the banks of the River Thames. There she particularly enjoys creating miniature paintings on small, perfectly-formed slates, which she gathers from the foreshore of the river. She often refers to her tiniest works of fine art as “precious little jewels dredged from the bottom of the deep Thames mud.”

A graduate from Reading University with a degree in Fine Art, Deakin’s work is based on the beauty of nature. Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights is her abstract representation of real-life objects found in a garden.

Just imagine all the things one might see in a garden — flowers, trees, insects, birds, small animals, statuary, fences, stone walls, benches, hedges, greenhouses, fountains, bridges, pavilions, patios, lawns, stepping stones, reflecting pools, aviaries, trellises, topiary, ponds, gazebos, etc. Whew — that’s a long list! Who knew there could be so many things in a garden? Can you think of other things you might find in a garden?

What makes this abstract art is that nothing in Deakin’s painting looks the way it would in a real-life garden. Everything is ‘unnaturally’ composed using the elements of art — including line, shape, form, space, color, and texture. It’s pretty interesting when you think about it — Jane Deakin has painted nature, quite unnaturally!

Although Deakin’s portrayal of a garden in Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights might not match the image that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘garden,’ it is nonetheless a beautiful representation. Like a real flower garden, Deakin’s painting is very bright and colorful. At the top, we see a yellow dot surrounded by an orange glow, which could be interpreted as the warm sun helping the flowers grow. The bright colors and abstract shapes could be seen as a giant blooming explosion. The band of blue at the top of the painting could represent the bright-blue sky. If you look really closely, you might imagine that the black lines throughout are a wrought-iron fence containing the garden.

Abstract art from the Post-Modern era is unique because it relies on the viewer’s imagination. In other words, you may interpret the painting much differently from me, and even from what the artist intended. Abstract art allows each individual a very different and highly personal reaction to a piece of artwork.

As we learned, Post-Modernists like to break the rules. Jane Deakin indeed broke the rules when she painted nature — in this case, a garden — so unnaturally.

For a fun, hands-on artsy craft — designed to help you break the rules as you unnaturally compose your own garden painting — check out Abstract Raised-Salt Craft. It's any day art with everyday materials!

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