Jane, my painting buddy, and I have decided to do a series of plein air paintings in Tower Grove Park. So far, we have painted 2 of the pavilions together. This one is the Humbolt South Pavilion. Tower Grove Park is a historic park in south St. Louis built by Henry Shaw, the one who founded and build the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is one of the top botanical gardens in the world.
I have a small field sketch kit by Winsor Newton. It consists of 12 half pans of watercolor paint in warm and cool versions of the primary colors (yellow, red, and blue), several neutrals, black, and white. The quality of the paint is very good. These paints are
creamy, smooth, and rich in pigment. They are easy and convenient to use. I also had my palette that is part of my plein air Soltek easel to work on. I used a Shade Buddy umbrella so the sun didn’t dapple on my palette and my paper.
I started, as always, by sketching in my subject. I had some trouble with integrating the roof lines with the base of the pavilion properly. Once I got that figured out, it got easier and more enjoyable. I originally made the mistake of not making the roof bigger and wider than the base of the structure. I then drew in the “sides” in perspective, which was rather challenging, since this building is an octagon. I like the fact that all the components of this building are also octagonal – the cupola, the roof, the individual pillars, and even the bases of the pillars (which I omitted in the painting). So much attention was given to details in the older buildings. I also loved the various curlicues and gingerbread details on the building. The main reason I chose this subject to paint is that I love the golden yellow color of the roof. I like how that contrasts with the teal of the columns, and the reds of the trim.
After the sketch, I painted the sky, and then the trees above the pavilion. Then, I painted the pavilion, and then the trees and grass behind the pavilion. The next time I do this, I would change 2 things. Number one, I would mask in the pavilion so I don’t have to paint around all the columns and fluff on the pavilion. Second, I would do the background trees and sky wet on wet to make for a softer look, which would create a better sense of space. I would also paint in the sky all at once, so there isn’t a line and difference in value in the sky on the upper right hand side.
Overall, this turned out all right, especially considering this is my first plein air watercolor painting.