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!
One Friday in early spring, I went about 2 – 3 blocks from my home to Old St Marcus Park for a day of plein air painting. It was one of those idyllic spring days where the sun was shining, it was balmy, and nature was exploding with a rich, clear, blue sky, vibrant greens, and luscious pinks. I set up in the grass that was carpeted with violets.
I started by toning my panel with a brilliant cool lemon yellow, which to me is the color of early to mid spring on a sunny day.
After this, I painted the evergreen trees on the left. I did it quickly and somewhat loosely, because time is of the essence when it comes to painting outdoors. I then did the path and the grasses. Then I did the pink crabapple trees. I used cadmium red deep with lots of white. I also added some warm colors for the lighter sunlit parts. I think I mixed in some orange or scarlet. Lastly, I painted in the violets in the grass. I allowed parts of the bright yellow underpainting to show through, to connote warmth and light. This works really well with the parts of the grass that are in the sun. I deliberately simplified the background, which in actual fact had houses and cars, etc, because that wasn’t the point of the painting, and it would have been noise and distraction.
If you closely look at any tree in bloom or in leaf, there are lots of interior darks and grays that support the vivid colors of the outer sunlit leaves and flowers. I made this gray a greenish gray, in order to complement the pinks of the sunlit crabapple blooms. This was done in midday, due to the restrictions of my schedule that day.
This is a small pastel I did en plain air, with a painter buddy who lives nearby. I did this in the early spring. This is an elegant stone church in south St Louis called Epiphany Lutheran Church. It is at the intersection of Leona and Holly Hills. It is across the street from Carondelet Park, which is where Jane and I painted this. Both she and I love to paint architecture. The color of the pastel board is gray, so it was easy to add my windows and shadows by just erasing away the pastel.
I enjoy the experience of having people come to talk to me during my outdoor painting sessions. I got to meet a neighbor who lives on Holly Hills near this church. She made a wonderful shawl for my painter friend Jane, and she told me all about the Shake festival in Forest Park, which features a free play every evening in June by Shakespeare. This year is Romeo and Juliet.
The trees did not have leaves on them when we painted this. However, my son Andrew suggested I add leaves to the trees. I did that, and I’m glad I did.
I recently took a class with Jerry Thomas called French Impressionist Blue Painting. The basic premise is that you use at least 2 or more pigment blues, and keep them isolated
from each other in different areas of your painting.
This particular scene is at Creve Coeur Lake in St Louis Missouri. My husband, sons, and I have spent lots of time sailing here during summers. I used cobalt blue for the sky, Prussian blue for the water, and ultramarine blue for the snow shadows. Blue is a space color, and there is a strong sense of space in this piece. I started with a panel toned in bright yellow, to offset all the blues and warm it up, so it wouldn’t look icy cold. I also used soft pinks, yellows, and violets in the grays of the trees and shrubs.
When I was walking past the lily pad ponds by the Linnaeus House in the Missouri Botanical Garden, I was mesmerized by the pattern of lily pad shadows and reflections on the water.
I painted this in acrylic based on a photo I took of the scene. I enlarged it on my ipad mini, and did a drawing first. Then I painted in the scene. It was colorful, but looked somewhat flat and disjointed. So, I put my Monet on and put lots of broken color in the shadows and the sky reflections. This made it much more vibrant, and unified the painting. Later, I darkened some of the shadow areas, and brightened the lighter areas to improve the value system. Finally, I realized it was hard to tell the reflections and shadows from the actual lily pads and flower, so I put a glaze over the water using a mixture of translucent zinc white, iridescent silver, and iridescent gold.
My favorite part of this is the foreground lily, with the white and gold light reflections on it.
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.
We had a nice prolonged autumn this year, due to mild temperatures. I painted this en plein air at the very end of November here in my hometown of St. Louis, Missouri. This is in the Holly Hills area, which is a beautiful part of south St. Louis. Fall is my favorite time of the year. A week prior, I had run into a fellow artist Henryk Ptasiewicz painting this very scene in oils. He inspired me so much, as did this beautiful maple tree, that I came back and painted it myself the following week. He also got me connected to Jane Flanders, who is now my painting buddy. I’m glad I painted while I had the chance, because now, it is 6 degrees F, and very much winter.