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 take a walk almost every day. I’m blessed to live next to a beautiful older neighborhood in south St Louis called Holly Hills. Leona street runs alongside the western edge of Carondelet Park. That is where I was walking when I passed a front yard consisting entirely of a flower garden, complete with running fountain. I was at sunset, and the sun
was peeking from between the 2 houses behind the garden. I loved the way the shaft of golden light was caught and shattered on the flowers and leaves of these echinacea.
The first thing I did was a detailed drawing. Then, I masked in the foreground, which includes the flowers, leaves, stems, and some of the foliage on the left. I got thoroughly wet the sheet of paper, then painted in a very soft background in blue-green, violet, and green. I also included some of the background flowers in violet, orange, and red. The colors ran into each other and created the soft effect, which gives the illusion of depth. I also made a point to keep the background cool, because cool colors recede and enhance this 3 dimensional appearance.
When this paint was completely dry, I removed the masking fluid. I painted in the foreground leaves and stems, and then the flowers. I’m very grateful to The Mind of Watercolor youtube channel for teaching me the techniques of watercolor.
I’m really enjoying doing these abstract pieces. There is so much freedom of expression in abstract work. I don’t have to worry about making it look like a real object. When I first started painting, I was very uptight about making everything look true to life. I have a brain for exact detail, and it’s so easy to get caught up in the millions of details of nature. Whenever I do a representational work, I work from real life or a photo. When I do abstract work, I do it strictly from my imagination. I don’t have to worry about making some semblance of something “out there”.
This piece reminds me of pregnancy, womanhood, fertility, etc. It could be the eggs of marine life in some seaweed. It could be a woman’s womb with eggs in it. It has a very organic sense of rhythm and flow caused by the curved lines, and the lines that echo from each other.
After being very busy taking care of my 13 year old, who is off for the summer, my house and garden, and my health, I finally got back to my art today. I started out with a sheet of heavy duty black toothy pastel paper. I drew “S” curve lines on the paper, and fanned them out. Then, I drew in colors on each “S” curve, in the order of the color wheel. This makes it colorful, but yet harmonious. My color palette is red violet, red, red orange, orange, and yellow, with accents of green. The green accents add contrast, and interest. This piece has a nice flowing organic feel to it. It is all based on curves. At the same time, it is lively and colorful, and has a sense of controlled energy.
Here is another abstract I did today. I did this in colored pencil (mostly Prismacolor) and Prismacolor Art Stix on Strathmore gray scale paper. I started by drawing wavy lines and boxes within with charcoal. Then I did the rest with the art sticks and colored pencils. The nice thing about Prismacolor, is they have a nice system of grays. There is cool gray, warm gray, and french gray in various values. I decided to make most of the squares in various shades of gray, black, and white. Only a few of the boxes have color in them. In my experience, life is mostly mundane, punctuated with occasional times of joy and excitement. However, the mundane grays make the good times all the more happy by comparison. Here, the grays really show off the bright colors.
I seem to have taken a turn towards the abstract. I never thought this would happen. However, I have become interested in expressing ideas, instead of physical stuff lately. This piece was entirely hand drawn – no computers here. I only used a ruler for the lines I drew in perspective. I hand drew all the ovals.
Before I knew Jesus Christ and had a personal faith in Him, I was in darkness. I came to trust in Him in 1976.
The square light represents Him. All the small surrounding ovals in white, yellow, green, and blue represent different facets of me, and also me in various stages of my life. Some days in my life, I am towards the dark, blue ovals. Other times I am in the light yellow area. Most days I’m in the green or yellow green areas.
For the past couple of months, I had been struggling with bitterness and resentment. I was in the darker bluer areas at that time. In the past few days, God has really been dealing with me, and I’ve repented of unforgiveness. I’m praying for some people that have been persecuting me and falsely accusing me. I’ve forgiven them. I have to see them as broken, hurting people, which they are. I have to look beneath the surface, which is usually hard, tough, aggressive, and often polished and pretty. My sins against Jesus are so much greater than any transgressions against me. I can only forgive and let go through the power of the Holy Spirit. I have felt such peace and joy since I’ve released all the wrongs done to me. I’m praying for the people who hurt me, sincerely. Thank you Jesus.
Several years ago, I had an art studio in the Soulard neighborhood just south of downtown St. Louis. One half block west of there, on Menard Street, I decided to plein air paint these intricate Victorian turn of the century homes. I painted this on a blue toned pastel paper, and allowed this to show throughout the painting. This is a celebration of color and light!
I had great fun painting this. I remember standing on the other side of the street, and a guy who owned the nearby bar whistled his appreciation and said he would consider buying it. I remember soaking up the warm late spring sun (it was June), and enjoying the violet red roses growing right nearby, and the backyard garden of said nearby bar. I like the way the shadow looks on the building to the left. I love detail, as you can see from this. The Soulard neighborhood has blocks and blocks of houses like this, as do surrounding areas of Benton Park and Lafayette neighborhoods. This is only a few blocks from the famous Anheuser Busch Breweries, an old St Louis tradition, as well as Soulard Market, an open air market that opened in the 1700’s.