When I look back at paintings (some brand new and some from the past) I feel, hear, smell and taste what I was experiencing at the time of painting them. I might remember that I was using baby oil for a paint thinner (not recommended) while painting on a winding road in Spain and I remember the bright yellow of the saffron colored Paella we had at the restaurant after making that painting . See “Winding Road by the Sea in Spain”, which took years to dry (because of the baby oil experiment.) 


“Winding Road by the Sea in Spain”

Original oil painting by Karen Hewitt Hagan


Travel fuels my inspiration and helps create the bigger studio paintings such as “Southern Sunflowers”. People asked me at last week’s Artwalk where the inspiration came from for that painting. It literally came out of my mind from the many Sunflower fields I’ve visited in Southern France, Italy, Florida and most recently Mt. Pleasant, SC. It all compiles and ends up coming out of my brush at the moment it chooses. Yep, the muse decides, not me.

“Southern Sunflowers”

Original oil painting by Karen Hewitt Hagan

48 x 60 in.


We have a collector looking for a sailboat painting so I went deep into the studio and brought in a few from Abaco, both painted on site. The rose colored one (“Rosy Glow at Hope Town”) was from a class I was giving in Hope Town and I was demonstrating how to create the light effect in just one color. I remember standing on the deck of our house, looking at this scene and how the breeze was so lovely and cool early that morning. 

“Rosy Glow at Hope Town”

Original oil painting by Karen Hewitt Hagan

6 x 8 in.


I’m preparing to give two plein air painting classes – one this October in Charleston and one next June in Tuscany, so I brought in a few of my past plein air European studies.  


It was great fun "time traveling" through seeing them again. When I revisited “Bridge, Village of Cahors France” I remembered exactly who was there with me (Judy, Julie, Bill, Diana, Connie…), what we were wearing, and what we had for lunch (oh the oranges!) and that big, richly colored Oriental rug where we sat by the river to celebrate our day. What a treat to get to re-live that day.  

“Bridge, Village of Cahors France”

Original oil painting by Karen Hewitt Hagan

4 x 12 in.


So, I’m encouraging you to go travel, take your sketch pad, remember the things that inspire YOU. And if you’d like a new adventure, would you like to come to Tuscany with me next June?


All the details are online on Hagan Fine Art’s workshop page.




See accommodations and sign up for Karen's June 16, 2024 Workshop in Tuscany:

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