Boxwood Garden in Pastel

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.

“Boxwood Garden”, pastel on pastel board, 24″ x 18″

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.

“Carondelet Pavilion”, pastel on pastel board

A Winter Plein Air Scene

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.

“Horseshoe Lake in Winter”, oil on canvas panel


Autumn in St. Louis

“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.

Tower Grove Park En Plein Air

Missouri has a very short spring, and it is mostly wet and rainy.  I’ve heard many people here say we go right from winter to summer, and that’s mostly true.  Yesterday was one of those idyllic spring days where it is sunny and 75 degrees, everything is colorful and luminous, and it just takes your breath away.  I was very blessed (thank you Jesus) to be able to paint, even though my mother was in the hospital because she fell twice.  (I went to see her last night).


Tower Grove Park is a Victorian era park that was built by Henry Shaw.  It was originally planned to be a private estate.  It has charming old bridges and pavilions in it.  I couldn’t help but admire this little foot bridge with the beautiful pink and white dogwoods in bloom nearby.


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.

Closeup of Crabapple Tree

I just LOVE spring!  Woohoo!!  I’m so excited that winter is over, and spring is here!  I’ve recently been trying out acrylic paints.  They feel a lot different that oils.  I love the fact that they dry quickly, so I can put another layer on in just 5-10 minutes, instead of waiting a day or two, as with oils.  I’m also reading a book about how to paint in acrylics. This new acrylic adventure is really inspiring me!  This book has lots and lots of new ideas, techniques, and so on.  I realize that I’ve been a very traditional painter up till now, relying only on the most basic of tools and techniques.  That’s fine, because it forces me to learn to draw and paint really well.  However, it was starting to get a tad boring, too.

Here is a painting I did of a crabapple tree in full bloom.  This tree is just a block from my house.  I took a photo of it close up.  My palette is titanium white, cadmium yellow medium, cadmium orange, quinacridone red, quinacridone magenta, perylene violet,

Crabapple in Full Bloom, acrylic on canvas panel, 16″ x 8″

ultramarine blue, and olive green deep.  I started on a bright yellow toned canvas.  This gives the painting a bright, warm feeling.  I painted a bit looser than my general tendency.  I made a point to allow the yellow underpainting to show through.  I drew the shapes in detail on the dry underpainting, then painted it all in.

The two challenges of acrylics for me, is the fast drying time can make it hard to get a good even blend or gradation, and the color shift.  I spent a lot of time researching how to deal with the color shift.  They tend to dry darker than when you apply them.  I bought some tubes of Winsor Newton the other day because they claim to have no color shift, but there is still a slight color shift.  It’s not a big deal.  I’m learning to make the paint a bit lighter than I want to be before I apply it, and to repaint areas that dry too dark.

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