I painted this en plain air with my husband Jon in fall of 2016 in Holly Hills. Holly Hills is an especially beautiful and charming neighborhood in south St Louis City. The sugar maples have an amazing color scheme. They range from a deep golden orange, up through a beautiful magenta color, with darker oranges and reds in between. These are one of my favorite trees in the fall, because I am a colorist. When I first moved to St Louis at age 15, I was truly blown away by the colors of these, and would just stare at them in awe and amazement. I even remember one Sunday, our family drove to a small country town for a sausage supper in October, and I saw so many of these trees on the way there. I was transported in bliss!
This is the first blog I’ve done in a while. My son needed major surgery this past summer, and this fall my mother has had serious medical issues.
I just completed this pastel drawing called “Mermaid Riding Fish”. I did this in Nupastels. The surface I used was a black toned professional artist quality pastel paper with a very rough surface – like sandpaper.
This is a scene at the Missouri Botanical Garden. This is in front of the climatron, which is a very large greenhouse filled with tropical plants and trees. There is a formal series of reflecting pools with lily pads, bronze sculptures, and glass art by Dale Chihuly, such as the yellow onion bulb here.
I took a photo of the scene, and used my ipad Mini as a reference point. I started with a detailed drawing in white “charcoal”. Then, I put in the background. I used a lot of blue green for the background, because the coolness adds depth to the scene. I decided to use a pretty strong blue green for the banana trees in the background. The statue in real life is bronze, and is done by a Swedish sculptor by the name of Carl Milles in the 1950’s. For the colors of the sculpture, I used yellow ochre and blue green together for the mid range values. For the hilights, I used a warm off white, then surrounded it with yellow and orange. I also used this orange in other areas of the painting such as the lily pads, the background landscaping, and the glass onion bulb base. The orange at the base of the glass onion gave it more richness and depth. The blue sky reflecting in the water contrasts very nicely with all of the yellow and orange. The bright yellow glass onion shows up well with the dark water surrounding it. The reds of the blooms in the background landscaping are a foil color, and break up the yellow/green/blue theme.
Overall, this piece has a warm, sunny, lush feeling to it. It shows summer at it’s best – lush green foliage, blue skies, splashing fountains, and bright sun. Here is the listing in my online store.
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 around 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
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 on 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.