My husband had a day off work, and we had the privilege to spend the day at the Missouri Botanical Garden on a beautiful balmy and sunny September Day. We sat on a bench in the shade, and I painted this sunny, splashy fountain with soft pastels. I like how the sun dappled the water and the surrounding patio. I also love the sun dappling on the water of the fountain itself, as well as the droplets of water surrounding the water spurts.
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.
I just completed this colorful pastel drawing yesterday. (May 2016) I was raised in a very strict religious home. I was also born with high functioning autism, and being artistic I was somewhat “out there”. This drove my mother crazy. She was always trying to make me fit a certain mold that she thought I should fit into. I also got lots of flak, bullying, and teasing from teachers and classmates. I believe that our world tried to make us fit into a certain mold. That is why I made all the small mini paintings within this painting to fit into a checkerboard pattern. It shows how each person is an individual, yet there are constraints on us imposed by family, religion, society. However, this can be confining, and keep us small. At some point, it really helps to BREAK OUT of the mold people tried to force us into.
I had great fun doing this. I drew this on a large sheet of Sennelier La Carte pastel board in the color sienna. I started out making a grid of 1 inch squares on it. I used hard Nupastels and pastel pencils. I started making a small abstract mini painting in every other square. I just went with the flow on this one, and was very spontaneous. After I was almost halfway done, I decided to BREAK OUT, and very gesturally painted the large element on the lower left side. Freedom to be me feels GOOD. God made me with high functioning autism, and that is exactly how I’m supposed to be. Certain others who can’t or won’t accept me – that is their problem and their hangup.
I just finished this a half hour ago. I’m very glad I decided to put in the paddle boat with 5 people in it. Otherwise, it would have looked somewhat empty.
Last week, my husband and I spent the day at Forest Park, here in St Louis where I live. Forest Park is the site of the 1904 World’s Fair. It is well known for that. It is St Louis’s version of Central Park in New York.
I chose this spot where I could paint on of the park’s many bridges. I’ve painted several other bridges in this park.
I sat in my car, because it was a warm and windy day, and the view from my minivan was perfect. My goat here was to paint the light, and then the color. I was particular struck by the bright, glowing, yellow green leaves of the juvenile tree on the point of land on the right side, as well as by the play of light and shadow on the various grasses and plants under and around this tree. I purposely lowered the height of the background trees so I could put more sky in the painting. Having sky always makes a painting appear more spacious, and the light of the sky contrasts nicely with the darks on the ground and water.
I used Nupastels, and Faber Castell soft pastel half sticks. Their square shape really helps. I also added a few strokes with my extra soft pastels, which are primarily Unison, Sennelier, Schminke, and Great American pastels. I love the pure color of a pastel stick, and the buttery, soft consistency. A good artist pastel is literally almost pure pigment, with just a small amount of binder to hold it together.
I did this one en plein air (meaning outside). It was a cool and very windy early spring day, so I stayed in my minivan to paint this. My husband was with me. It is the back of the World’s Fair pavilion. I loved how you could see the sky and the pink crabapple trees behind the archways. It is soft pastel.
I go crazy with color. I find the spring greens amazing, as well as the bright colors of blooming things.
Here is a soft pastel I did a few weeks ago. This is a scene at Francis Park here in south St. Louis. One of my favorite things is to combine architectural elements with nature. This makes for an interesting contrast. I like the structural, geometric forms, and how they interrelate with the soft, flowing elements of nature. I also like how the light and shadows play off of one another here. See how the tree shadows define the geometric lines of the steps, and the curb along the steps on the right? The open space in the background adds depth and dimension, contrasting with the vertical aspect of the plant leaves on the left.
My husband, son, and I decided to go to Pere Marquette State Park in Grafton, Illinois. On the way to the hike, I’m reading an issue of Artists’ Magazine, and there is an article on a specific technique for how not to get all bogged down in detail. It was great timing. The article said to see your scene as just an arrangement of large abstract shapes, and to draw a rough line drawing of these shapes in pencil or charcoal, and then color them in, and then work on from there. It was very helpful. I decided that for the next several months, I would do just that. And, I would be very intentional about simplifying what I saw, and not feeling compelled to record every small detail. I would also figure out what I liked about the scene, and then make that the focal point.
My guys wanted to hike, and I wanted to sketch. All of the redbud trees were in bloom this day, and it was sunny and warm. Gorgeous! It was another windy day, so this time I painted from inside my van. Today I would experiment with oil pastels. I’m not used to them, and they are big and blunt, so not much detail.
Here is what I came up with. It has a completely different look than regular pastels.