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.

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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!

Dreaming of Warmer Days

I was born and raised in the tropics (Venezuela).  Now, I’m in Missouri, USA.  I really miss the tropical weather in winter!  So, I decided to go to the Missouri Botanical Garden Temperate House, and paint this romantic little scene of vines trailing along a Mediterranean stucco wall.  This is done in soft pastels, en plein air.

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Dreaming of Warmer Days, soft pastel