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Dorothy Fagan Biography

Discovering Joy's Garden

Dorothy Fagan artist

In 1983 as Dorothy Fagan's art gained momentum in the New York art world, an assailant's knife slashed Dorothy's ability to paint the delicate abstract landscapes for which she had become known. 

Path interrupted? Or journey intensified?

Dorothy fought to find the artist she'd lost ~ or the one she was meant to be. Discovering Divine guidance for recovery through her father's mysterious reversal of V.A. doctors' prognosis of early death, and through her mother's continued guidance after her death of a brain tumor . . . Dorothy struggled to unravel the Creator's messages. This led her to discover the life purpose of her artistic gifts and a life she calls Joy's Garden.

Two Sisters

Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1953, Dorothy Fagan is the eldest daughter of a music teacher and a WWII veteran who was hit in the head during the Battle of the Bulge. At age 8, through the encouragement of her mother Pauline, Dorothy discovered both her love of music and painting. Playing the organ at church, and taking sculpture and painting lessons with her mother, the foundation for her artistry had already begun.

At 14, Dorothy received her first award for painting and went on to win first place in a five-county student competition in Morristown, New Jersey. Graduating from East Carolina University with a B.F.A. in Printmaking and Painting, she married and moved to rural southeastern Virginia in 1974. Raising three sons, she painted at nap time and sent her paintings to New York City to compete in international juried exhibitions. At age 25, she achieved acceptance into the Pastel Society of America. 

Her paintings were exhibited at the prestigious National Arts Club in New York City, and purchased by the City University of New York. Her oil paintings followed with the American Artists Professional League at the famous Salmagundi Club in New York. At home, the Virginia Museum of Fine Art, the Hermitage Museum, and Virginia Contemporary Museum of Art exhibited her colorful paintings.

Earth Sky Water

With each phase of her recovery, Dorothy's palette and painting style changed. Painting en plein air, she found refuge and solace in private gardens and landscapes. As she mourned her mother, she struggled to find courage to face her own fears. Fear of being assaulted in her own backyard stopped her at the clothesline, moving to a new city, travelling alone, and in every way imaginable. In paintings made during this period, Dorothy began deciphering the Creator's messages hidden in the landscapes she painted.

Walk with Dad

In conversations with her father, Jack Fagan encouraged Dorothy every step of the way. The way he'd recovered from his life-threatening wound, the seizures, and the stigma of being a victim, magnified her goal. He'd lived to meet the man who been awarded the Silver Star for saving his life, when his comrades stood stunned by the appearance of the one they thought was dead, at the 50th reunion of his battalion. Her paintings made during his passing in 2013, tell the final chapter of the Creator's message in "Walk with Dad."

Embrace the Mountain ~ Reaching ~ Dear Antonella

An Artist Residency at Musee de La Grande Vigne in 2013 commenced the final steps of Dorothy's healing journey. There she developed her fusion mixed media process, combining charcoal drawing and painting thinned washes of oil paint on toned canvas. Her palette shifted again, and again in 2015 and 2017, as she travelled to Tuscany for extended residencies. Dorothy's most recent trip to Sorrento, ammended her palette once again, adding orchid to her violet hues.

Dorothy Fagan's art is included in collections on five continents, including the Musee de La Grande Vigne, Dinan, France, Longwood University Art Museum, U Mass Memorial Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, Camp LeJeune Mental Health Hospital, Emory University, City University of New York, International Paper, and numerous corporate and private collections.

Joy's Garden Books


Represented by

Chasen Galleries, Richmond, VA.


Solo Shows

Gallery Mayo, Richmond, VA 1979
Dorsey Gallery, Roanoke, VA 1980
Virginia Contemporary Museum of Fine Art, 1979
Century Gallery, Williamsburg, VA, 1981, 2006
Michelson's, Washington, DC, 1985
JSL Fine Art, 2015

Chesapeake Framing & Art Gallery, Kensington, MD, 2013
Stewart Gallery, Gloucester, VA 2017


International & National Juried Exhibitions

Musee de La Grande Vigne,  Les invites d’Yvonne Jean-Haffen Exposition, Dinan, France

Pastel Society of America, National Juried Exhibition, National Arts Club, New York
Pastel Society of Canada, International Juried Exhibition, Cambrian Rose Gallery, Ottawa
American Artists Professional League, National Juried Exhibition, Salmagundi Club, New York
G.V.W. Smith Art Museum, National Juried Exhibition, Springfield, MA
Virginia Museum of Fine Art, Prints & Drawings ’81 National Juried Exhibition, Richmond, VA
Virginia Contemporary Museum of Art, Virginia Beach, VA
The Copley Society, Pastel Society of America Members’ Exhibition, Boston, MA
Kansas Pastel Society, National Juried Exhibition
Hermitage Museum, Pastel Society of America Members’ Exhibition, Norfolk, VA
New Jersey Institute of Technology, Pastel Society of America Members’ Exhibition, Newark, NJ


Public Collections

MUSEUM COLLECTIONS Musee de La Grande Vigne, Dinan, France, City University of New York, Longwood University Art Museum, Emory University.

HEALTHCARE COLLECTIONS  U. Mass Memorial Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Camp Lejeune Mental Health Facility, Riverside Cancer Center, Southampton Memorial Hospital.

CORPORATE COLLECTIONS General Electric, First National Exchange Bank, International Paper, Monarch Bank, Towne Bank, AAA, Raycom Media, Coldwell Banker.

PRIVATE COLLECTIONS in the United States, England, Italy, Iceland, Singapore, Jordan, Canada.

Goddess Rising by Dorothy Fagan

Residencies, Awards & Education

Artist Residency Florence, Sept – Nov 2015Independent Painting Writing

Artist Residency Musee de La Grande Vigne, July – Sept 2013, Dinan, Provence, Paris.

Medal of Honor G.V.W. Smith Art MuseumAcademic Artists’ Association

Best in Show  Virginia Contemporary Museum of Art

American Masters Painting Mentorship with Robert Bowers Mayo, Valentine Museum and Gallery Mayo, 1979 – 1989, Richmond, VA. Mayo guided Fagan in developing her unique approach to painting by imparting his understanding of the artist psyche through the works of George Inness, Martin J. Heade, Elliot Clark, and Walter Metcalf.

B. F. A. East Carolina University, 1974, Printmaking and Painting
At East Carolina University, she studied under printmaker Donald Sexauer and painter Ed Reep 1971 - 1974. 


Joy’s Garden, Embrace the Mountain Dorothy Fagan, 2018

CreativSOUP, Adult Creativity & Coloring, Dorothy Fagan, 2016

100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-AtlanticGary Pendleton, Schiffer Publishing 2014

Joan Cawley Publishing, Fine Art Prints, 2001 - 2011

Teaching & Writing 

Fagan Studios, 1976 - present

Fagan Design Concepts, Inc, 1986 - 1997  creativity communications consulting

Fagan Studio Gallery, 1983 - 1990 custom framing gallery

Paul D. Camp Community College, 1983 - 1988 teaching

W. C. Rawls Museum, 1975 - 1983 teaching


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Wings by Dorothy Fagan

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including How to Find Your Heart Colors (step by step instructions she uses in her studio with clients)

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