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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Beautiful Day in Forest Park “Time is Forever”

DSC_0019I gave myself a wonderful gift for my birthday.   I went to Forest Park here in St Louis

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Time is Forever, 14″ x 18″, pastel on pastel board

Missouri to paint en plein air.  My sister came out and joined me for part of the painting session, which was an added bonus!  I painted the visitor’s center.  This is one of the many charming old buildings in this town.  St Louis has much beautiful, older architecture.  I remember spending hours with my art teacher at age 8 learning to paint cubes, cylinders, spheres, etc.  and learning how to shade them to make them look 3 dimensional.  This is probably why I enjoy painting buildings to this day.

It was a perfect spring day.  The sun was DSC_0027shining, and it was warm without being hot.  I had lots of people stop by to talk to me, and they were all very gracious.

Boxwood Garden in Pastel

I’m very pleased with how this pastel painting turned out.  It is of the boxwood garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden.  I really like the contrast of the vertical brickwork in the foreground left and the fountains on the lower right, with the horizontals of the garden behind it. It is very colorful.  There is a warm, sunny feel to this piece.  You can see the gazebo through the round opening in the brick wall.  I really enjoyed creating this painting.

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“Boxwood Garden”, pastel on pastel board, 24″ x 18″

Carondelet Pavilion

I did this painting with my painting buddy Jane.  It was fall, and again in Carondelet Park, which is just a few blocks from my home.  This is one of the old pavilions in the park.  This was a bit more challenging than just a regular quadrangle, since there is a semi-hexagonal section in the middle.  I love the older Victorian architecture in many of the city parks in St Louis.

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“Carondelet Pavilion”, pastel on pastel board

A Winter Plein Air Scene

I’ve gone from spring, to autumn, to winter.  Here is a small oil painting I did of Carondelet Park in the winter.  I had just gotten a wonderful new plein air easel, and was very excited about that.  It is the Soltek easel.  I LOVE it!!!  Man, is it quick and easy to set up and take down.  This is horseshoe lake in the park, as seen from south.  The building is either a utility building, or restrooms.  I like how the red roof shows up in the muted colors of winter.

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“Horseshoe Lake in Winter”, oil on canvas panel

 

Autumn in St. Louis

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“Carondelet Maple”, pastel on pastel board

I’m a bit out of order here.  I had painted this en plein air last autumn with my painting buddy Jane Flanders.  This is in Carondelet Park, by the corner of Holly Hills and Leona.  The tree is a maple tree.  Carondelet Park has a lot of karst landscape.  St Louis has a lot of caverns underneath it, and when these collapse, it forms a basin, as you can see here.  I like the effect of the background even better than the orange and red tree.  This is done in pastel.

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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