Deakin Paints an Abstract Garden

Deakin Paints an Abstract Garden

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

MommyO guides you along mini-adventures in fine art & fun art. Questions are BOLD. (Answers are ITALIC.) Hands-On Doodles™ are FUN!

'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

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.'

Have you heard of Abstract art before? (Child response.) Abstract art is an unrealistic portrayal of the real world by an artist. It often includes everyday objects, presented in a manner which makes the objects 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 one might see in a garden. Can you name some things you might see in a garden? (Answer: examples — flowers, trees, insects, statuary, fences, benches, etc.)

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

What do you think of 'Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights?' (Child response.) If you didn't know the name of the painting, what about it might make you think of a garden? (Answer: examples — it is very bright and colorful, just like a flower garden; at the top, the yellow dot looks like the warm sun helping the flowers grow; the flowers look like a giant blooming explosion; the blue at the top of the painting reminds me of the sky; etc.)

As we learned earlier, Post-Modernists like to break the rules. What about this painting breaks the rules? (Answer: Deakin broke the rules when she painted nature — in this case, a garden — so unnaturally.)

Aside from being abstract — Deakin's 'Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights' is also very colorful. Our Hands-On Doodle™ activity promises to be very colorful too! Do you think it would be fun to paint a colorful abstract garden like Jane Deakin today? (Child response.)

Remember, you're going to be breaking the rules just like a Post-Modernist by unnaturally composing your painting. The flowers, trees, insects, statuary, fences, benches, and any other garden objects you add to your abstract painting shouldn't look like they would in real life. What are the objects you will paint in your abstract garden? (Child response.)

Let's look again at 'Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights.' What kind of shapes do you see? (Answer: examples — thick and thin crisscrossing lines, swashes, swirls, swishes, globs, blobs, etc.) Using some of these out-of-the-ordinary shapes and forms to represent objects — rather than squares, circles, triangles, and ovals — plus bright colors and interesting texture will help your picture be 'zingy' too, just like Jane Deakin's masterpiece.

Check out our vlog for more #fineartfunart!

Colorful Garden Raised-Salt Painting

Create a 'Colorful Garden Raised-Salt Painting' for hands-on fun with Post-Modernism!


8-1/2" x 11" White Cardstock

White School Glue in a Squeeze Bottle

Iodized Table Salt

Large Baking Pan (Tray)

Liquid Watercolor Paints*


Container of Water

Hairspray (Optional)

*No paints on hand? NO PROBLEM! Follow this link for 'Clever Craft Recipes' made with stuff you probably have in your kitchen pantry!

Everything you need to create a 'Colorful Garden Raised-Salt Painting!'

DIRECTIONS With the bottle of glue, squeeze your abstract garden design onto the cardstock — making thick and thin crisscrossing lines, swashes, swirls, swishes, globs, and blobs.

When you are satisfied with your design, hold the artwork over the large tray as you sprinkle the salt over the lines of glue. Be sure to cover the glue completely with salt.

Gently tip the artwork so that any excess salt falls back into the tray. It is important to immediately go to the next step and not allow the glue to set-up with the salt for too long a time.

Dip your paintbrush in one color of the liquid watercolors. Then, gently touch the paintbrush to the salt-covered glue. It's like magic — the paint will travel and beautifully blend along the salty lines! *Tip: Clean your paintbrush before changing colors. Repeat this step until you are pleased with your 'colorful raised-salt garden.'

After you’ve completed applying the watercolor paints to your garden, allow the artwork to dry on a flat surface for several hours. *Optional: To help preserve the salt, spray your raised-salt painting with a generous amount of hairspray.

Once the hairspray is dry and the salt is stabilized, you can display your colorful garden on the refrigerator door. It’ll brighten up the kitchen on even the gloomiest of days, and your unique abstract garden is sure to remind you of Post-Modernist Jane Deakin’s beautiful painting named ‘Garden of Heavenly and Earthly Delights.’

Have you ever painted on rocks like Jane Deakin?

Join our Kaboodler Klub to leave your answer below. You'll find our comment section after the recent posts feed. And by the way — Kaboodlers also enjoy access to our printable Hands-On Doodles and special bonus offers!

If you enjoyed this Hands-On Doodle™ and your mini-adventure in fine art using 'Deakin Paints an Abstract Garden,' check out our Hands-On Kits & Kaboodles page for more fun adventures in fine art for the whole family!


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