I start the week all excited knowing that the weather forecast called for beautiful mild weather, and my calendar is empty – 2 rarities that even more rarely coincide. On Monday I had to take Andrew to the doctor and had other things to do, so on Tuesday I got all my painting supplies together, and marched over to the Missouri Botanical Garden to paint. I was feeling very tired that day because I had not slept well the night before. I decided to paint the mausoleum of Henry Shaw. The Victorian edifice was truly beautiful that day, with the sun glimmering through the windows and the stained glass, and the dappled sunlight creating a multitude of highlights and shadows on the building. I also loved the twisty tree to the left of the building.
It was a nice quiet day without wind, bugs, or people to interrupt me often. However, when I paint en plain air I usually do pastels. I’m not used to all the accessories I have to juggle when painting with wet media like acrylics or oils or watercolor. Not only that, but about 1.5 hours into the painting, it suddenly got cloudy, and my light completely changed. I was already quite tired, and having a hard time being able to focus and get in the flow. So I got quite frustrated and decided to pack up for the day.
I came home, and rested for a few hours. Fortunately, I had taken a picture, so then I used that to block in the trees and the sky. Two days after that, I decided to put away the photo, and just go with what I remembered, and used my sense of what would work artistically. I made a point to create a sense of space by making some of the trees a cooler and grayer green, with less details. I did this by mixing purple into the green. I also refined the building by putting in some details of the wrought iron work over the windows, and some flecks of color to suggest the stained glass. I like how you can see the green trees behind the structure through some of the windows.
I can’t get enough of the Missouri Botanical Garden. I wish they would allow artists to come in and paint after hours. I would live here if I could, it is so pretty, and has so many luscious scenes to paint.
Last Wednesday, my husband and I sat at the edge of the lake in the Japanese Garden so I could paint either the bridge, or the boulders in the lake. I decided on painting the boulders. Instead of the traditional composition, I chose to put the rocks in the top 1/3 of my painting, and have the bottom 2/3 be the water and the reflections. It made for an interesting effect. Usually the background of the painting has the soft edges, but in this case it is the background that has the more distinct edges and brighter colors, due to the subject matter.
This egret landed on top of the taller rock, as if to say “Here I am, and I’m going to keep watch over this garden”. It stayed there for at least an hour, preening it’s feathers and just relaxing. I felt blessed and grateful to have this wonderful addition to my scene! I like how the blue in the shadow side of the bird goes into pink at the bottom, from the reflection off the rock. I also like the reflections of light on the edges of the bird and the top of the beak.
I think my favorite subject matter is all in the Missouri Botanical Garden. If I didn’t have other 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.
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.
Here is a piece I painted last winter with a painting buddy at the Missouri Botanical Garden. Since it was cold outside, we decided to paint at the temperate house. I was very drawn to this lovely bronze statue of a little boy playing the recorder. I have 2 sons, and for some reason this one reminds me of my younger son Andrew. There is something about the tilt of his head, and his general demeanor that reminds me of Andrew. I love how he is reflected in the pond, along with some of the greenery growing around him.
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.
I was born and raised in the tropics (Venezuela). Now, I’m in Missouri, USA. I really miss the tropical weather in winter! So, I decided to go to the Missouri Botanical Garden Temperate House, and paint this romantic little scene of vines trailing along a Mediterranean stucco wall. This is done in soft pastels, en plein air.