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

Last Holdout

We had a nice prolonged autumn this year, due to mild temperatures.  I painted this en plein air at the very end of November here in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri.  This is in the Holly Hills area, which is a beautiful part of south St. Louis.  Fall is my favorite time of the year.  A week prior, I had run into a fellow artist Henryk Ptasiewicz painting this very scene in oils.  He inspired me so much, as did this beautiful maple tree, that I came back and painted it myself the following week.  He also got me connected to Jane Flanders, who is now my painting buddy.  I’m glad I painted while I had the chance, because now, it is 6 degrees F, and very much winter.

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Last Holdout, pastel on pastel board, 10.5″ x 15.5″

Autumn Mist

I just finished this painting a few minutes ago.  I used a photo as a reference for this.  My usual style is high key, colorful painting.  My goal in this particular piece was to loosen up a bit, and paint somewhat more softly.  I love how the violets and blues in the mists contrast with the golds, yellows, and reds in this.

My palette consisted of zinc/titanium white, cadmium lemon, cadmium yellow deep, yellow ochre, burnt sienna, purple lake, indigo, and terre verte, and burnt umber.  (I don’t care much for terre verte, but I wanted to use it up).  I mixed indigo with burnt umber to make my dark.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  We had an especially spectacular one this year here in Missouri.  It was extended due to warmer than usual weather.

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Autumn Mists, oil on canvas panel, 12″ x 16″

Getting Back Into Plein Air Painting

I just met a woman who is also a painter, and she lives only about a mile away.  We have gone painting a couple of times, and having a painting buddy is very motivating to get me painting more regularly.

For the past several years, I had gotten more in the habit of studio painting, and was doing little painting on location.  However,  I need the challenge of painting a scene on the spot, and knowing that I have to get it down quickly, because the light changes so fast.

Jane and I painted in south St Louis at the corner of Loughborough and Field.  There is a quaint old brick house at the corner, with some whimsical trees, and stepping stones laid around.  I think these types of properties are so much more pretty and interesting that a perfectly manicured new home with that sterile, plastic look to it.  I love the weathered, irregular look.  It tells a story, and I can feel the history that happened here.

So I was very drawn to the two trees with the colorful autumn leaves still clinging to them, even into December, since we’ve had such a mild autumn.  I love the contrast between the bright colors of the leaves with the bluish grayness of the neighbor’s house behind it.  I also like the contrast of the straight lines of the houses with the sinuous, twisting lines of the trees that almost seem to be dancing.

To be honest, I had a hard time with this painting.  My heavy, bulky coat managed to knock one of my pastel trays onto the ground, spilling them all over.  I also didn’t simplify the scene at first, and tried to include too many elements.  I messed up the sky, and had to remove it, and redo it.  I tried to soften the pastel marks of the left tree, and ended up with a muddy mess. At one point, I was so frustrated I considering giving up on it.  Thankfully, I calmed myself down, and just went on trying to rescue it.  It came out better than I anticipated.  Here is the listing in my online store.

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Last Holdouts, pastel, 15 1/2″ x 10 1/2″

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. 

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

View to the Future

This is an abstract colored pencil drawing I did yesterday.  It’s done on Canson Mi Tientes Touch heavy duty pastel board.  It has a toothy, rough surface that holds many layers of pastel or pencil.

When I do an abstract, I start with a basic idea.  However, I let the artwork unfold and I let my idea evolve.  This makes it more fun, and more of an adventure.  When I first started drawing and painting, I was very rigid, and mainly wanted my art to look like the objects I was representing.  That’s probably because I was learning the skills of how to render real life objects.  Doing abstract work is freeing, and more relaxing for me.  I can express a concept, or a feeling, not just physical objects.  It’s also fun to play with color, lines, shapes, values, and so on.  I love doing geometric forms.

Two things happened with this, that I had not planned.  First, the fact that my lines are closer together and less diagonal in the background gives this piece a feeling of one point perspective.  Second, I like the striations of light and dark violets in the upper 1/5 of the piece.  It reminds me of a sunset with a couple of cloud banks down by the horizon.  The green areas remind me of a rural landscape.  The yellow/gold/orange in the middle reminds me of the path life takes us on.

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View to the Future, 15 1/4″ x 10 1/4, colored pencil on pastel board

Phases

I really love this Art Spectrum Colourfix Paper.  For one thing, look at the rich, colorful violet blue background.  Using colored pencils on this is so smooth and buttery.

I was inspired by an image I saw in church of a cross with spots of light, like stars.  The “stars” were soft and dim, bright and clear, or in between.  That made me want to do something similar.  I went with a variation of a split complement color scheme.  Blue and orange are opposites on the color wheel.  Red and yellow are close to orange.  So, I used lots of variations of red, pink, orange, yellow, and cream to make these various balls.  I love how the blue shows through on some of them between the circular lines, so I left them that way.

I got the idea to put shadow tails on some of them (like a comet’s tail) because the drawing looked flat, and just reminded me of a fabric print.  I think this really helped add a sense of mystery, and made for a much stronger value system, which is the system of lights and darks.  I used indigo blue for the shadows.  I like the the shadows form a veil over some of the other orbs, and create a greater sense of being three dimensional.

Here is the listing in my online shop.

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Phases, colored pencil on pastel board, 16″ x 12″