watercolor painting “Garden at Sunset”

I take a walk almost every day.  I’m blessed to live next to a beautiful older neighborhood in south St Louis called Holly Hills.  Leona street runs alongside the western edge of Carondelet Park.  That is where I was walking when I passed a front yard consisting entirely of a flower garden, complete with running fountain.  I was at sunset, and the sun

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Garden at Sunset, watercolor on rag paper, 12″ x 16″

was peeking from between the 2 houses behind the garden.  I loved the way the shaft of golden light was caught and shattered on the flowers and leaves of these echinacea.

The first thing I did was a detailed drawing.  Then, I masked in the foreground, which includes the flowers, leaves, stems, and some of the foliage on the left.  I got thoroughly wet the sheet of paper, then painted in a very soft background in blue-green, violet, and green.  I also included some of the background flowers in violet, orange, and red.  The colors ran into each other and created the soft effect, which gives the illusion of depth.  I also made a point to keep the background cool, because cool colors recede and enhance this 3 dimensional appearance.

When this paint was completely dry, I removed the masking fluid.  I painted in the foreground leaves and stems, and then the flowers.  I’m very grateful to The Mind of Watercolor youtube channel for teaching me the techniques of watercolor.

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“Garden Sentry” Pastel Painting

I can’t get enough of the Missouri Botanical Garden.  I wish they would allow artists to come in and paint after hours.  I would live here if I could, it is so pretty, and has so many luscious scenes to paint.

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Garden Sentry, pastel, 9″ x 12″

Last Wednesday, my husband and I sat at the edge of the lake in the Japanese Garden so I could paint either the bridge, or the boulders in the lake.  I decided on painting the boulders.  Instead of the traditional composition, I chose to put the rocks in the top 1/3 of my painting, and have the bottom 2/3 be the water and the reflections.  It made for an interesting effect.   Usually the background of the painting has the soft edges, but in this case it is the background that has the more distinct edges and brighter colors, due to the subject matter.

This egret landed on top of the taller rock, as if to say “Here I am, and I’m going to keep watch over this garden”.  It stayed there for at least an hour, preening it’s feathers and just relaxing.  I felt blessed and grateful to have this wonderful addition to my scene!  I like how the blue in the shadow side of the bird goes into pink at the bottom, from the reflection off the rock.  I also like the reflections of light on the edges of the bird and the top of the beak.

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Sunlit Dahlia

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“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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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