Oyster Harvest Painting Celebrates Virginia Oystermen

oyster harvest painting


A New Painting Celebrates Virginia Oyster Traditions

I am thrilled to announce the unveiling of my new oyster harvest painting, Oyster and Pearl.

In 20 years of painting Virginia's Chesapeake Bay, my upcoming book, Oyster and Pearl, documents intimate nooks and crannies of the rivers, streams, bay, beaches, and marsh lands.

Oyster and Pearl, Limited Edition Canvas Print

Oyster Harvest Painting

10 Years in the Making

Oyster to Pearls Vision

Two oystermen on Mobjack Bay caught my eye during a painting outing ten years ago.

The stunning twilight sunset behind them saturated my senses. Hoping to set up my easel and paint them, I pulled over. I stepped out of the car. Mosquitoes descended. Any thought of painting the oystermen vanished.

I couldn't even stand there long enough to snap a photograph! Jumping back in the car, I shut the door.


I sat there for a few quiet moments. Taking in the colors, I memorized their silhouettes against the breathtaking sky.


The vision stuck with me.

I held it in my mind's eye for over a decade.

Last month the vision came bubbling to the surface again ~ begging to be painted.


20 Years of Plein Air Painting

Moving to Mathews County in 2000 with my husband, James Waggener, we stepped away from our previous life in Norfolk's Ghent.

The air smells so sweet and clean here, not like the coal dust we'd grown accustomed to in the city. Whip-o-wills, peepers, and the fragrance of sweet grass permeated our new life.

Thus began my painting excursions down back roads, to every remote creek side I could find. I set up my easel, dug my feet into the sand, and painted my heart out.

oyster harvest painting, Dorothy Fagan
Dorothy Fagan

One of my favorite places to paint is Bethel Beach Sanctuary. Views of the Bay, inland creeks, beach, and marshes kept me entertained for years. I also grew fond of the road to the lighthouse. Many a morning I was there with my easel, and resident bicyclists and morning walkers.

"Stopping to photograph the oystermen,
I got out of the car and immediately was swarmed by mosquitoes!

The radiant sky silhouetted the oystermen
and etched the vision in my mind.
This vivid memory haunted me
~ with no photograph ~
I just HAD to paint it."
~ Dorothy Fagan

My painting territory extended beyond my home county of Mathews. I painted landscapes protected by the Williamsburg Land Conservancy from the Nansemond River, to the James, York, Chickhominy, Piankatank, Rappahannock, Potomac, and many of the creeks and streams in between. Friends treated me to private views throughout Gloucester, Middlesex, and the Northern Neck.

Oyster and Pearl

Limited Edition Canvas Print

Oyster and Pearl

Limited Edition Canvas Print

Oyster and Pearl

Limited Edition Canvas Print

The Oyster Bed

The oyster bed pictured in my painting is called a beach-bottom culture. These oysters, raised on tidal beaches with sandy or rocky bottoms, are accustomed to fighting the tides. They clamp tightly shut during low tides to preserve their “liquor” and to protect themselves against predators.

Because of this "tough” life, beach-raised oysters are hearty. They have hard, sturdy shells. And their ability to close tightly, coupled with their hard shells, gives them a longer shelf life. You'll find more on these and five other types of oysters at Chef's Resources.

Edition & Book Set

The Oyster & the Pearl

Talk about the powerful symbolism of the oyster bed!

Reading the description of the beach raised oysters, I began to see my self digging my feet into the sand to paint at Bethel Beach. "Feet in the Sand ~ Head in the Clouds" that painting was titled.

I knew it was time to publish to book. I could see the cover in my mind' eye ~ the "Moonrise on Mobjack" painting ~ head in the clouds indeed!

Hunting through my archives for it, I discovered the colors of paintings abandoned in my portfolio ~ never shown to anyone ~ suddenly iridescent. Shimmering and radiant, I plucked them, one by one for the book.

Reserve Your Signed Copy with your Limited Edition Canvas Print, or Embellished Canvas Artist Proof today. Only 100 available.

Joy's Garden

Joy's Garden

Joy's Garden