Painting a Series in Tower Grove Park

Jane, my painting buddy, and I have decided to do a series of plein air paintings in Tower Grove Park.  So far, we have painted 2 of the pavilions together.  This one is the Humbolt South Pavilion.  Tower Grove Park is a historic park in south St. Louis built by Henry Shaw, the one who founded and build the Missouri Botanical Garden, which is one of the top botanical gardens in the world.

I have a small field sketch kit by Winsor Newton.  It consists of 12 half pans of watercolor paint in warm and cool versions of the primary colors (yellow, red, and blue), several neutrals, black, and white.  The quality of the paint is very good.  These paints are

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“Humboldt South Pavilion”, 9″ x 12″, watercolor

creamy, smooth, and rich in pigment.  They are easy and convenient to use.  I also had my palette that is part of my plein air Soltek easel to work on.  I used a Shade Buddy umbrella so the sun didn’t dapple on my palette and my paper.

I started, as always, by sketching in my subject.  I had some trouble with integrating the roof lines with the base of the pavilion properly.  Once I got that figured out, it got easier and more enjoyable.  I originally made the mistake of not making the roof bigger and wider than the base of the structure.  I then drew in the “sides” in perspective, which was rather challenging, since this building is an octagon.  I like the fact that all the components of this building are also octagonal – the cupola, the roof, the individual pillars, and even the bases of the pillars (which I omitted in the painting).  So much attention was given to details in the older buildings.  I also loved the various curlicues and gingerbread details on the building.  The main reason I chose this subject to paint is that I love the golden yellow color of the roof.  I like how that contrasts with the teal of the columns, and the reds of the trim.

After the sketch, I painted the sky, and then the trees above the pavilion.  Then, I painted the pavilion, and then the trees and grass behind the pavilion.  The next time I do this, I would change 2 things.  Number one, I would mask in the pavilion so I don’t have to paint around all the columns and fluff on the pavilion.  Second, I would do the background trees and sky wet on wet to make for a softer look, which would create a better sense of space.  I would also paint in the sky all at once, so there isn’t a line and difference in value in the sky on the upper right hand side.

Overall, this turned out all right, especially considering this is my first plein air watercolor painting.

Here is the link to purchasing info. 

 

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Muny Gazebo in Forest Park

I LOVE spring!  It is a wonderful time to paint outdoors.  Today was a sunny, warm, breezy day.  My husband doesn’t go to work until 3 PM, so he came with me, and we went to Forest Park in St. Louis to paint the gazebo in front of the Muny in Forest Park, which is an outdoor theatre.

I had already decided to do this one in 2 sessions, instead of just 1, because the subject matter is intricate and complex.  I love older architecture, and this one is Victorian, and has lots of very cool details.  I enjoy showing the details in older architecture.  St Louis has much older Victorian architecture.  My goal for today, which I achieved, was to get a good detailed drawing of my subject.

When I first got there, I chose a spot where there was sunlight on one side and shadow

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Muny Gazebo, pastel, 14″ x 18″

on the other.  This makes for a more interesting composition.  At first I was just going to have the gazebo fill in most of the space, but then I decided to put it further back and include the bridge to the right as well.  This way, I would have a wide expanse of water with the reflections, and sky, and this would make it nicer.  We were blessed in that there was a park bench under some shady trees, so we sat on that.

I used my iphone to take a shot of it, just to establish the first few lines.  I have a tendency otherwise to lose my composition and drift off the page.  Then I built everything else on those first lines.  The first thing I did was establish the horizon, which was 5/8 (golden ration) of the way down from the top.  Then, I got the lines of the shore, the island, the basic outline of the gazebo, and the bridge.  I put my phone away and did the rest just from sight.  I have a view finder, but I need a stand or tripod or something to hold it stationary.  It’s a pain to have to keep holding it up over and over, and finding the same view each time.

I plan to go back on Thursday, because tomorrow it’s supposed to rain. One thing about the midwest, is it’s a challenge to spend more than 1 day on a plein air painting, because the conditions are so different from day to day.  At least I’m not trying to paint something that will change very fast, like flowers, or blooming trees.  Stay tuned for my next session on this one!

My Mom will be Thrilled

The Bevo Mill is a landmark building in St Louis Missouri.  My great grandfather on my mom’s side built it.  It was her father’s father.  His name was Louis Henry Grone.  He came over from Germany.  He also owned a small beer brewery in an underground

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Bevo Mill, 16″ x 20″, oil on canvas panel

cavern in St Louis as well.

As the store goes, my great grandpa built this for Auggie Busch, the man who founded Anheuser Busch as a stopping place to eat, drink, and rest while he was on his way to his farm in the country. (Grant’s farm)  Every week, Mr. Grone went to Mr. Busch’s home on Pestalozzi Street, and placed his business card on a silver platter, which the butler then took in to Mr. Busch.  The butler would return with the check for Mr. Grone.

At any rate, I painted the Bevo Mill as a mother’s day gift for my mom.  Luckily she doesn’t have a computer, and I doubt any of my relatives on here will spill the beans between now and Sunday.

I painted this in the studio from a photo I took as I was driving by it on Morganford Road.  I love how the sun is right behind the mill, and makes the sky really bright around the top of the mill.  This adds drama, and makes it interesting.  This was my first time painting in 3 point perspective.  My husband made a beautiful professional looking frame for it from red oak.

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.

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“Carondelet Pavilion”, pastel on pastel board

Old Coffee Roaster

My husband has been off work the past 2 days, and Andrew, my 13 year old, has been on his 8th grade trip to Chicago.  It’s been wonderful.  My husband and I have been out taking walks at the Missouri Botanical Garden and Forest Park, having lunch out, and relaxing and having coffee at local cafes.  One such cafe is Shaw Coffee Company, in “the hill” section in St. Louis.  I love the interior of this place.  It is spacious with high ceilings, being as how it is an older building.  There is an old fashioned coffee roaster that they still use.  Today, it was not in use.  I enjoyed sketching this in pencil first, then in charcoal.  After I got home, I added some hilights with off white pastel pencil.  I started to use a stump to blend it out all the texture, but decided to just leave it be.

By the way, Shaw Coffee Company makes some darn good coffee!

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Old Fashioned Coffee Roaster, charcoal, 12 x 9