Sunlit Dahlia

“Sunlit Dahlia”, oil on panel, 20″ x 16″

I just completed this oil painting 10 minutes ago.  Last summer, I was taking a brisk walk along Leona Avenue in south St Louis.  Just south of Bates Avenue, I happened upon a back yard with big red dahlia’s and red roses.  There was a black wrought iron fence as well.  I was entranced by the abstract pattern of light and shadow on the sidewalk cast by the fence and the plants.

I painted the flower itself in transparent glazes.  The layers are: yellow, light red, rose, green, violet, and blue.  My palette consisted of Permalba white, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium scarlet, quinacridone rose, purple madder, ultramarine blue, chrome green deep.

I made use of the color pooling concept.  I put subtle red and green glazes in the shadow areas, and on the darker leaf sections.  I put a layer of green glaze on the flower in the shadow area to subdue the red slightly.  I also included red in the sunlit areas of the sidewalk and the ground.  This unified everything, and renders the reflection of color in the surrounding environment.

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Daylily Dance Oil Painting

I’m quite happy with this painting.

I spent a good amount of time, many hours in fact, mixing all of my basic colors of oil paints.  I got some very beautiful, complex reds from mixing yellows with red violets.  I decided to try one of these mixtures for these stunning and colorful daylilies.  The color of the flowers is based on a mix of cadmium yellow medium and quinacridone rose.  I also used Permalba white, yellow ochre, ultramarine deep, sap green, and Van Dyke brown.  I painted the background smoothly with a brush.  Then, I painted in the dark shadows with a muted blue green.  I painted the leaves in with a brush, from dark, to middle, to light values.  I put in the flower petals and the flower throats with palette knives.  I made a point to blend the back edges of the flower petals into the background somewhat to add depth.  Lost and found edges are very good to have.  It adds depth, and helps the positive and negative space to flow together into a unified whole.

I let this dry for a few days, then I painted in the flower buds with palette knives, then the stems.  After this dried to the touch, I added some hilights, and a few minor details.  In my opinion, this is one of my best floral paintings.  I hope you enjoy seeing it as much as I enjoyed painting it.   Here is a link to the online listing. 

Daylily Dance, oil on canvas panel, 18″ x 24″

Riot of Spring Blooms

I will never, ever get tired of spring flowers.  I also love architecture.  I love the way the architecture combines with growing things.  The flowing, soft lines of nature contrast well with the hard, straight, geometric lines of things built by humans.

One day last spring, my husband and I were driving around in his truck looking for something to paint.  We were driving around the Tower Grove south neighborhood of St. Louis.  As we drove down a side street, I was drawn to this whimsical, charming and delightful home filled with all kinds of flowers and neat things.  I introduced myself to the owner of the home, and she was just as delightful.  I started this painting in the bed of my husband’s truck.  It was so windy, he ended up holding on to the easel as I started the painting.  After about an hour of this we both became quite uncomfortable (it was cold, too).  So I took a photo, and finished the piece in my studio.

Here is the listing in my etsy store.

Riot of Spring Blooms
Riot of Spring Blooms, oil on canvas panel, 16″ x 20″

My New Raised Beds

I’ve been wanting to have a raised bed vegetable garden for years.  This year, we did it.  I say we, because my husband Jon and younger son Andrew built the raised beds in March – 3 of them, at 10′ x 4′ each.  This way, we could put really good soil in there, instead of relying on this clay soil we have here at the juncture of the Mississippi and Missouri Rivers. (St Louis). There is a reason almost all the homes in south St. Louis are brick.  Our soil is so heavy it makes really great bricks.

I ordered the soil from a local composting business.  It was half river bottom soil, and half compost.  I started peppers and tomatoes from seed, and put them out right after our last frost date of April 15.  When I first put them in, they were a bright, lush green.  However, several weeks later, they were a funky yellowish green with purply veins and stems.  From research on youtube, that indicated phosphorus deficiency.  That’s strange.  I thought compost was very fertile.  I was trying to go organic, and had started heirloom plants from seed myself.   Here is the before picture: tomatobefore

Since I am aspie, everything I do, I go whole hog into.  I seldom do things halfway.  So I go to Lowe’s to get a soil testing kit.  I also end up buying the moisture/light/pH meter as well.  When I used the soil testing kit, it showed a very high pH. It was off the charts.  On the alkaline side was green and dark green, but my test came out blue!  (with a slightly greenish cast).   I actually enjoyed doing the soil test. This meant my pH was at least 8.0 or more, which is very high.  I did all kinds of internet research, and got lots of conflicting opinions.  According to my gardening book, tomatoes actually like a slightly acidic soil.  So, I ended up buying soil amendment at Lowe’s which was to bring down alkalinity.  I also analyzed this in my mind, thinking that this river bottom soil must have been derived from the limestone bluffs that run along the river banks here.  Then afterward, I started obsessing over whether the soil test was accurate, and what if I was wrong to have added the sulfur?

My husband suggested just hitting it with Miracle Gro and forgetting about it.  I’ve had to tell myself to just relax, and let nature take it’s course.  My soil test also showed there being a complete lack of nitrogen, so I decided to hit it with some Miracle Gro as my husband suggested.

Something helped, because things are looking a lot better.  At least I haven’t killed my garden (yet), due to my hyper focus.  Here it is after I added the sulfur and Miracle Gro.tomatoafter