Shrimp Gleaner

I just finished this watercolor painting two days ago.  I was in the panhandle of Florida in late May, and we visited a fish market called Joe Patti’s. It is in Pensacola, right at the shrimp docks where the fishing boats come in.  This pelican was sitting there, and he

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“Shrimp Gleaner” watercolor, 12″ x 16″

probably enjoys what is left over from the catch each day.  He was quite tame, and allowed me to get pretty close to take a shot of him sitting on this piling.

I started by painting the bay, the distant land, and the sky wet on wet.  I used mainly blue and violet.  After that dried, I painted the spit of land on the left, and the dock. I used a toned down violet and blue green for this.  At one point, I used a spray bottle over zealously, and my dock piling paint started to spread more than I wanted it to.  I lifted that out.  Lastly, I painted the bird, in yellows and brownish oranges.  The bird is actually more gray, but I wanted some warmth in the painting as a counterpoint to all the cool blues and violets, so I made him orange brown and yellow.  I also put some of these oranges, yellows, and browns in the dock, water, and land to unify the painting and bring it all together.  I put a touch of yellow in the lower part of the sky to bring more light into the picture.

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Alberto’s Evasion watercolor painting

I just started painting in watercolors!  A couple of months ago, I picked up some watercolor brush pens for sketching with.  I ended up doing some small pieces with these.  I was entranced with the way the watercolor blended, and made interesting

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Alberto’s Evasion, watercolor, 12 x 16

effects when I tried to blend and soften it with water.  I love the transparency and luminosity of them as well.

A month ago, we went to the panhandle of Florida, and stayed in a place on the beach.  The news made it sound like the storm Alberto would devastate the Gulf Coast.  However, it just caused some rough surf, wind, and a bit of rain for a few days.

For this painting, I used professional Winsor Newton cadmium yellow, cadmium scarlet, permanent rose, French ultramarine, Winsor blue (green shade), and permanent sap green.  I used Arches 100% rag (cotton) watercolor paper, which is one of the best.

I started by doing a basic line drawing.  Then, I masked in the areas of the ocean that I wanted to stay white.  I first painted water over the sky and sea area. Then I painted the sky.   I lifted color with a paper towel to form the soft clouds.  I painted the sea.  In the background, I used ultramarine blue with a tad of orange to avoid the color being too high chroma.  Then, I gradually blended in some Windsor blue, which is similar to a phthalate blue, which is blue green.  As I came into the shallows, I blended in the sap green, and added lots of water to lighten the value.  Because the sea and sky were painted wet on wet, the darker blue of the sea feathered into the sky and created a nice soft horizon.

I let the sky and sea dry, then I removed the masking.  The next day, I put some masking fluid in the boardwalk walls.  I painted the umbrellas and people, then I painted the boardwalk, wet on dry to form crisper edges.  My focal point is obviously the umbrellas, especially the red one.  It really pops out because it contrasts so much with the blues and greens.  Lastly, I painted the sea oats wet on wet with green and brown.  I just love how the paint softened all by itself.  When I have painted in oil, I had to soften the edges by using a fan brush, but the water causes the paint to disperse and soften by itself.  The beach color is just the off white color of the paper.

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Old St Marcus Crabapples

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.

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Old St Marcus Crabapples, oil on canvas panel, 20″ x 16″

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.

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Spring Epiphany

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.

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Spring Epiphany, pastel, 12″ by 9″

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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Shadows and Reflections

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.

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Shadows and Reflections, acrylic on canvas panel, 14″ x 18

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.

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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.