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Dorothy Fagan Biography

Discovering Joy's Garden

Dorothy Fagan in studio

Completing Chesapeake Flyway was a watershed moment for Dorothy Fagan. In a downpour, she saw the divine purpose for not only the painting ~ but her whole life as an artist.

In 2013 Fagan got inspiration for Joy's Garden when she visited Monet's garden, as part of her artist residencyat Musee de La Grande Vigne. Walking through the color combinations planted along each pathway, and standing shoulder to shoulder with Monet's murals at Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris ~ she felt something Monet was saying with his colors. 

Beyond what she heard people talking about in his garden or at the museum, she sensed the profound healing power of color. She sensed her own life purpose ~ in her decades of balancing colors painting in gardens, healing from PTSD and depression. A door suddenly opened, connecting Fagan to the message of her artistry.

Returning home to her own studio by the wild pond on two acres in the woodlands of Virginia, she set out to create Joy's Garden. She began clearing brush and planting colors in unique combinations, like the ones in her paintings. On the website, you can see photos and read more about Chesapeake Flyway and the vision for Joy's Garden Foundation.


Born in Morristown, New Jersey in 1953, Dorothy Fagan is the eldest daughter of a music teacher and a mechanical engineer. 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. 

Dorothy plein air painting in Brittany, France, Musee de La Grande Vigne

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.

Her father, Jack Fagan, encouraged Dorothy in conversations about the nature of creativity. A WWII vet who was hit in the head during the  Battle of the Bulge, his life was itself was an inspiration to Dorothy and in living with the stigma of being a victim. Her paintings made during his passing in 2013, tell the final chapter of their special connection through the Creator within in her upcoming book, "Walk with Dad."

Joy's Garden books by Dorothy FaganIn 2013, Dorothy commenced the final steps of  of her healing journey in France when she was awarded an artist residency at Musee de La Grande Vigne in Dinan. There she developed her fusion mixed media process, combining pastel, oil, and watercolor painting. Her palette shifted again, and again in 2015 and 2017, as she traveled to Tuscany for extended residencies. Her most recent trip to Sorrento, Italy, amended 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.


Represented by

Chasen Galleries, Richmond, VA.

Prince George Art & Frame, Williamsburg, 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
Prince George Art & Frame, Williamsburg, VA 2018


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.


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 Museum1975 - 1983 teaching



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