Ink and watercolor wash Landscape Sketchbook Pages

Filoli Gardens

Filoli Garden Door,  ink and watercolor, 7x5 in
Filoli Garden Door, ink and watercolor, 7×5 in

During a special after-hours access for artists event, we visited Filoli to explore and sketch this amazing historic site. I started by sketching the doorway to the walled gardens (above).

Filoli is only 3o miles south of San Francisco but of another time and place entirely. Built in 1917 and lived in until 1975, the 654-acre property  includes a 36,000 square foot Georgian country house and spectacular 16-acre English Renaissance garden.

Filoli Garden Panorama, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in
Filoli Garden Panorama, ink and watercolor, 5×14 in

After touring the house (where we spotted original Sargent portraits of the family) we only had a couple of hours left so I decided to set a timer on my phone to force myself to sketch quickly and keep moving. It created an unpleasant sense of urgency in a place that could have been all about serenity. I should have relaxed, explored the entire grounds, and then sketched my favorite spots.

Filoli Pool, ink and watercolor, 5x7 in
Filoli Pool, ink and watercolor, 5×7 in

Instead I spent time sketching the pool (interesting shadows; but not an original feature of the estate) so missed the spectacular rose gardens which I caught a glimpse of on my way out. I will definitely return for the next artist access day.

8 replies on “Filoli Gardens”

This garden is so splendid, Jana. I love the panorama one, especially, of the building an flowers.You do bring such joy along withyour sketches. Thank you.


All three are wonderful paintings/sketches. The entrance is inviting and yet intriguing. The way you’ve suggested the vast array of flowers in the panorama is also very interesting and the shadows across the pool are wonderful. I think setting a timer on your phone was a great idea! And you have something to look forward to next time you visit the gardens. Lovely!


I’ve never heard of this place but if I’ve ever back on the West Coast would love to visit it. I love all your sketches, but the one of the pool is great. Maybe worth missing the rose garden for?


I’ve gotten so behind on looking at blogs, and even worse, posting to my own. It’s amazing how much time dog and cat care can use up. That plus all the wedding prep for my son’s wedding next month has kept me away from the computer (and sadly the sketchbook/studio).


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