Evening Dream

I think my favorite subject matter is all in the Missouri Botanical Garden.  If I didn’t have IMG_0892other responsibilities, I would literally set up camp there, and paint morning noon and night!  One late May evening, I was strolling through here prior to the Whitaker music festival.  When I walked through the Japanese garden by the crooked bridge, I was struck by the way the setting sun hit the tops of the trees in the background, and the way it reflected off the water.  What a perfect place to sit and relax.

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“Mermaid Riding Fish” pastel drawing

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.

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“Mermaid Riding Fish”, pastel on pastel paper, 16″ x 12″

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

Tropical Reprieve

My sister and her family went to Thailand, and both of my nephews (her kids) have had jobs teaching English there.  They took many wonderful photographs of it.  I used one of IMG_0009the photos to do a painting.  I was very charmed by this colorful little house with the bougainvillea growing in front of the dirt path.  Notice there is a primary triad color scheme blue, yellow, red (pink).  This painting is done in acrylic.  I used a warm and cool of each of the primary colors yellow, red, and blue, titanium white, and burnt umber, to make an optical black.  The pigments I used were azo yellow, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium red medium, quinacridone red, ultramarine blue, and phthalocyanine blue.

It was hard to get the correct shade of blue on the roof.  I’m new to acrylics, and am still learning how to account for the color shift.  They turn darker as they dry.  I was happy with the way the sky, distant mountains, and banana tree all came out.  I think the bamboo structure for the bougainvillea is neat as well.