Tower Grove Park En Plein Air

Missouri has a very short spring, and it is mostly wet and rainy.  I’ve heard many people here say we go right from winter to summer, and that’s mostly true.  Yesterday was one of those idyllic spring days where it is sunny and 75 degrees, everything is colorful and luminous, and it just takes your breath away.  I was very blessed (thank you Jesus) to be able to paint, even though my mother was in the hospital because she fell twice.  (I went to see her last night).

 

Tower Grove Park is a Victorian era park that was built by Henry Shaw.  It was originally planned to be a private estate.  It has charming old bridges and pavilions in it.  I couldn’t help but admire this little foot bridge with the beautiful pink and white dogwoods in bloom nearby.

 

Closeup of Crabapple Tree

I just LOVE spring!  Woohoo!!  I’m so excited that winter is over, and spring is here!  I’ve recently been trying out acrylic paints.  They feel a lot different that oils.  I love the fact that they dry quickly, so I can put another layer on in just 5-10 minutes, instead of waiting a day or two, as with oils.  I’m also reading a book about how to paint in acrylics. This new acrylic adventure is really inspiring me!  This book has lots and lots of new ideas, techniques, and so on.  I realize that I’ve been a very traditional painter up till now, relying only on the most basic of tools and techniques.  That’s fine, because it forces me to learn to draw and paint really well.  However, it was starting to get a tad boring, too.

Here is a painting I did of a crabapple tree in full bloom.  This tree is just a block from my house.  I took a photo of it close up.  My palette is titanium white, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange, quinacridone red, quinacridone magenta, perylene violet,

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Crabapple in Full Bloom, acrylic on canvas panel, 16″ x 8″

ultramarine blue, and olive green deep.  I started on a bright yellow toned canvas.  This gives the painting a bright, warm feeling.  I painted a bit looser than my general tendency.  I made a point to allow the yellow underpainting to show through.  I drew the shapes in detail on the dry underpainting, then painted it all in.

The two challenges of acrylics for me, is the fast drying time can make it hard to get a good even blend or gradation, and the color shift.  I spent a lot of time researching how to deal with the color shift.  They tend to dry darker than when you apply them.  I bought some tubes of Winsor Newton the other day because they claim to have no color shift, but there is still a slight color shift.  It’s not a big deal.  I’m learning to make the paint a bit lighter than I want to be before I apply it, and to repaint areas that dry too dark.

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Breakfast at Shaw Coffee Company

I had a marvelous breakfast of quiche Lorraine at the Shaw Coffee Company yesterday with my husband and younger son.  After I finished the quiche, I really liked the way the colorful fruit looked against the whites and grays of the plate, napkins, and table top.  I took a picture of it.  I painted it yesterday and today in acrylics.  I’m very happy, because in the past, I had trouble getting the right values.  Acrylics darken as they dry, so I compensated by adding a little more white to the paint mixtures.

The palette I used was titanium white, cadmium yellow dark, cadmium red medium, quinacridone magenta, dioxazine purple, prussian blue, burnt umber, and phthalo green.  I used Golden acrylics.  I mixed optical darks and grays with the blue and burnt umber.  I got a nice cold bluish gray.  I mixed a speck of yellow into the white to warm it up.

My goal in this painting is not to copy nature, or copy the photo.  I am going into a semi abstract mode here.  I like how the bright colors of the fruit contrast with the achromatic surroundings and background.  The plate, napkins, and table make for a nice abstract pattern of whites, grays, and darknesses.  I’m trying to simplify and eliminate detail.

By the way the fruit was exceptionally good.  The cara cara orange slices have a touch of pink mixed into the orange color, and were so sweet.

Here is a link to the listing in my etsy store.

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Breakfast at Shaw Coffee Company, acrylic on canvas panel, 24″ x 18″