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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Creve Coeur Shadows

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

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“Creve Coeur Shadows”, 18″ x 14″, oil on canvas panel

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.

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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.

Dreaming of Warmer Days

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.

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Dreaming of Warmer Days, soft pastel

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,

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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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