– Bob Bahr reporting, Editor PleinAir Today –

If it weren’t for a dream Carol Strock Wasson had, she wouldn’t have competed at the recent First Brush With Spring event in New Harmony, Indiana, she wouldn’t have painted “Richard in the Garden,” and she wouldn’t have won a prize. She shares her story below.

Lead Image: “Richard in the Garden,” by Carol Strock Wasson, 2016, oil, 12 x 16 in. Second Place at the First Brush With Spring event in New Harmony, Indiana

“I am always dreaming about painting,” says Strock Wasson. “I think a lot of artists dream about painting. Our brains work overtime. We spend a lot of time thinking about colors and compositions.”

While back home in Union City, Ohio, Strock Wasson pictured a scene while slumbering. “I just woke up and remembered the vision of painting in the peony fields, and I decided I was going to do that out in New Harmony,” she says. “I remembered that there was a field of peonies in New Harmony behind Holy Angels Church. In my dream the peonies were more fully in bloom than what I found there during the event. Also, in my dream, the redbuds were blooming. I had to change my painting to reflect the reality a little bit. There were no redbuds blooming, but there was a beautiful lime-citron color to the leaves of the trees. George Rapp came along and said I had the artistic license to have a few more peonies blooming.”

Strock Wasson and her volunteer model, Richard McKnight
Strock Wasson and her volunteer model, Richard McKnight

Strock Wasson’s dream didn’t include a figure, but she couldn’t resist when a friend offered to lend a hand. “I had not planned on putting people in the painting and just wanted to work with the spring colors in pastel, but then Richard McKnight came along and so graciously stood out there while I painted him,” says the artist. “The thing I enjoyed most about painting the scene was trying to capture the color of the light and atmosphere. First Brush of Spring is the best event in the Midwest for this time of year. The whole town works together to make this event successful.”

The nature of the event helped make Strock Wasson’s dream come true. It was not a juried event; a painter just had to pay to enter. This allowed her to enter at the last minute.

Once in the competition, and once the painting from her dream came to fruition, the rest was simple. “You can only enter one painting,” Strock Wasson recounts. “One of the hardest parts is choosing which painting to put in. But I had pretty much decided that ‘Richard in the Garden’ was going to be the one I entered. Too many good things happened with that painting.”

One more good thing was to happen — a ribbon.


  1. Hi,
    Not to offend you, I feel the figure is too small and looks as though it is a 12″ model, or the building in background is made for giants. prospective is incorrect.
    Hope you taking this comment constructive and helpful to you.

    • meant perspective is incorrect. if you draw 2 lines from vanishing point (the van is a good scale for this) you will see what I mean.


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