Sandy Creek Covered Bridge

Today, I went to Goldman, Missouri to paint this quaint old covered bridge.  It was a perfect day to paint outside – gentle breezes, warm, but not hot, and best of all I found a shady spot in which to paint this.  This was done in soft pastels.  First, I walked all IMG_0015around the area to find a good view.  Then, the smart phone came in handy to make a good composition, avoiding center lines.  A few lines were drawn based on this, and then the gadget was put away.

I completed the drawing in white “charcoal” using Sennelier La Carte pastel board in the color sienna.  This has a rough, toothy surface that grabs and hold on to the pastel.  It is possible to layer it thickly, and get some really good intense, vibrant colors in there.  NuPastels were used first – dark, earthy red for the shadow side of the

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Sandy Creek Covered Bridge, soft pastel on pastel board, 18″ x 13 3/4″

covered bridge, and a bright tomato red for the light side.  I paid attention to the structures inside of the covered bridge, as well.  Cooler, grayer greens were selected for the background trees, and warmer, higher chroma greens for the foreground trees, shrubs, and grass.  I also blended and softened the edges of the background trees.  Dark blue was lightly scumbled over the green for the darker shadow areas of the greenery.   Finally,  the large tree covering the left side of the bridge was left out, as the composition would benefit from an area of flat color to offset all the variations in the surrounding greenery and the sun dappling.

I love to paint bright, sunny scenes.  The key to that is to use a strong value system, including darks.  This supports the lighter yellow greens, pinks, peaches, etc in this landscape.  I made a special  point to use my blue greens as well for the shadowy areas.  Can you see the contrast between the warm and cool areas?

A guy was riding his bike over the bridge. That would really add a lot, to put him in there img_0016.jpgon his bicycle, so I asked him to ride through again slowly, and he kindly obliged.  He was very nice, and we talked for a while.  He took some pictures of me painting.

Muny Gazebo in Forest Park

I LOVE spring!  It is a wonderful time to paint outdoors.  Today was a sunny, warm, breezy day.  My husband doesn’t go to work until 3 PM, so he came with me, and we went to Forest Park in St. Louis to paint the gazebo in front of the Muny in Forest Park, which is an outdoor theatre.

I had already decided to do this one in 2 sessions, instead of just 1, because the subject matter is intricate and complex.  I love older architecture, and this one is Victorian, and has lots of very cool details.  I enjoy showing the details in older architecture.  St Louis has much older Victorian architecture.  My goal for today, which I achieved, was to get a good detailed drawing of my subject.

When I first got there, I chose a spot where there was sunlight on one side and shadow

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Muny Gazebo, pastel, 14″ x 18″

on the other.  This makes for a more interesting composition.  At first I was just going to have the gazebo fill in most of the space, but then I decided to put it further back and include the bridge to the right as well.  This way, I would have a wide expanse of water with the reflections, and sky, and this would make it nicer.  We were blessed in that there was a park bench under some shady trees, so we sat on that.

I used my iphone to take a shot of it, just to establish the first few lines.  I have a tendency otherwise to lose my composition and drift off the page.  Then I built everything else on those first lines.  The first thing I did was establish the horizon, which was 5/8 (golden ration) of the way down from the top.  Then, I got the lines of the shore, the island, the basic outline of the gazebo, and the bridge.  I put my phone away and did the rest just from sight.  I have a view finder, but I need a stand or tripod or something to hold it stationary.  It’s a pain to have to keep holding it up over and over, and finding the same view each time.

I plan to go back on Thursday, because tomorrow it’s supposed to rain. One thing about the midwest, is it’s a challenge to spend more than 1 day on a plein air painting, because the conditions are so different from day to day.  At least I’m not trying to paint something that will change very fast, like flowers, or blooming trees.  Stay tuned for my next session on this one!

Pastel Painting Garden Serenade

IMG_0005Here is a piece I painted last winter with a painting buddy at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  Since it was cold outside, we decided to paint at the temperate house.  I was very drawn to this lovely bronze statue of a little boy playing the recorder.  I have 2 sons, and for some reason this one reminds me of my younger son Andrew.  There is something about the tilt of his head, and his general demeanor that reminds me of Andrew.  I love how he is reflected in the pond, along with some of the greenery growing around him.

My Mom will be Thrilled

The Bevo Mill is a landmark building in St Louis Missouri.  My great grandfather on my mom’s side built it.  It was her father’s father.  His name was Louis Henry Grone.  He came over from Germany.  He also owned a small beer brewery in an underground

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Bevo Mill, 16″ x 20″, oil on canvas panel

cavern in St Louis as well.

As the store goes, my great grandpa built this for Auggie Busch, the man who founded Anheuser Busch as a stopping place to eat, drink, and rest while he was on his way to his farm in the country. (Grant’s farm)  Every week, Mr. Grone went to Mr. Busch’s home on Pestalozzi Street, and placed his business card on a silver platter, which the butler then took in to Mr. Busch.  The butler would return with the check for Mr. Grone.

At any rate, I painted the Bevo Mill as a mother’s day gift for my mom.  Luckily she doesn’t have a computer, and I doubt any of my relatives on here will spill the beans between now and Sunday.

I painted this in the studio from a photo I took as I was driving by it on Morganford Road.  I love how the sun is right behind the mill, and makes the sky really bright around the top of the mill.  This adds drama, and makes it interesting.  This was my first time painting in 3 point perspective.  My husband made a beautiful professional looking frame for it from red oak.

My First Fish Painting

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Flamboyant, mixed media on canvas panel, 16″ x 20″

I got bored of painting landscapes, flowers, and buildings, which have been my favorite things to paint.  So I decided to paint a fish.  When I came across a photo of the mandarin fish for the first time, I could not believe my eyes.  I have never seen a more colorful, exotic looking fish.  I love fish.  I used to have an aquarium, but gave it up so I could have the 3 cats I have now.  The fish tank was a lot of work.

I have a great love for color, and this subject matter sure fits the bill.  My color palette was Permalba white, lemon yellow, cadmium yellow dark, cadmium scarlet, permanent rose, cerulean blue phthalo, ultramarine blue, and burnt umber.  For the body of the fish, I used the cerulean with a bit of yellow mixed in, and cadmium yellow dark with a touch of cad scarlet added.  I love the various warm and cool blues.  I used glazing in pure ultramarine blue and Liquin for the transluscent fin on the side.

This is oil, on an acrylic background.  It was a labor intensive thing to paint, but I’m very happy with it, and enjoyed painting it.  I am in amazement at the creativity of God, to make such a creature.

Beautiful Day in Forest Park “Time is Forever”

DSC_0019I gave myself a wonderful gift for my birthday.   I went to Forest Park here in St Louis

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Time is Forever, 14″ x 18″, pastel on pastel board

Missouri to paint en plein air.  My sister came out and joined me for part of the painting session, which was an added bonus!  I painted the visitor’s center.  This is one of the many charming old buildings in this town.  St Louis has much beautiful, older architecture.  I remember spending hours with my art teacher at age 8 learning to paint cubes, cylinders, spheres, etc.  and learning how to shade them to make them look 3 dimensional.  This is probably why I enjoy painting buildings to this day.

It was a perfect spring day.  The sun was DSC_0027shining, and it was warm without being hot.  I had lots of people stop by to talk to me, and they were all very gracious.

Boxwood Garden in Pastel

I’m very pleased with how this pastel painting turned out.  It is of the boxwood garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  I really like the contrast of the vertical brickwork in the foreground left and the fountains on the lower right, with the horizontals of the garden behind it. It is very colorful.  There is a warm, sunny feel to this piece.  You can see the gazebo through the round opening in the brick wall.  I really enjoyed creating this painting.

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“Boxwood Garden”, pastel on pastel board, 24″ x 18″