Friday, April 19, 2013

Kotani-en Japanese Garden Estate, April 18, 2013

Twenty three strong, the Thursday Paintsite group had, thanks to Sylvia through her friendship with the master craftsman restoring the buildings and grounds of this private garden estate, a privileged and magical experience.    Tucked in a small valley in the hills above Silicon Valley and isolated from 21st Century sights and sound, we were transported back 800 years to feudal Japan.    Temples, shrines, stone lanterns, massive gates, a tea house, a huge Copper beech, brilliant red and green Japanese maples, manicured conifers --- too much to recount but an experience to remember.

For more information and photos of Kotani-en, see:

Mary Paquet
Thanks for a great day at Kotani En. The story of the development of the private garden by a partnership between an rich man and the Japenese cook/architect was fascinating. The shapes of the ancient trees, rocks, and man-made structures are honored in this simple painting. I was especially taken with the 300 year-old evergreen donated by the emperor of Japan backed by the flaming red beech tree.    Mary
Broncha Berger
Dick Zunkel

Special thanks to Sylvia and Jenny for organizing such a beautiful paintout, particularly the complexity of getting everyone on the grounds with their shuttle service. 


The rapidly changing light made this a challenging exercise painting from shadows to sun-dapple to white-paper blindness.  I tried out a new paint set today, the Yarka pan set from Cheap Joe's. I really like the intensity and transparency of the pigments, but hated the way they packaged them. I secured the paint pans and rack with double-face tape making it a viable plein air paint set.   Dick

Marilyn Perry
A huge thank you to Sylvia and Jenny for their extra effort to organize and implement all the logistics. Also thanks to the drivers.  It was a beautiful garden and a beautiful day, and I feel privileged to belong to SCVWS to get the pleasure of painting at Kotani-en.  Marilyn

Brad Santos
A serene and seemingly timeless garden, I could almost picture a samurai, hundreds of years ago, strolling through his garden, admiring the structures, the plants, supervising the artisans, admiring the artist's work.     Brad

Sylvia Waddell
Every step in this amazing historic garden revealed yet another interesting view to paint. What a great experience.    Sylvia

Jenny Tero

With bright sunlight coming through the overhead foliage, the amount of light on the subject went from total clarity to complete obscurity every few minutes.  I settled on a darker background to contrast with a light stone lattern.


  1. Wonderful paintings inspired by a magical paintsite. Thanks, Sylvia and Jenny. I know the organization of this one was not easy.

    I hope that we get more paintings to post. I wrote about the experience on my blog.

  2. Hi,

    I was wondering how one would be able to schedule an event at Kotani-en. I've been searching online but I don't see any way to contact the owners.