Fresh Off the Easel - "Balloon Glow Magic"

The first contemporary balloon race was held in St. Louis 47 years ago, founded by renowned balloonists Nikki Caplan and John O’Toole. Several years later, four young pilots, John Marlow, Dan Schettler, John Schaumburg and Ted Staley, took over and grew it to become one of the largest free events in the Midwest.


In 1991, the Great Forest Park Balloon Glow was added to the Great Forest Park Balloon Race Festival

As the big festival was canceled this year, I thought it would be fun to paint the Balloon Glow as a tribute to those expert pilots who have generously provided an evening of fun to the delight of thousands of spectators.

As I worked on this 8" x 10" oil painting on linen board, I thought about that night back in 2012 when this image was taken. I can still recall the excitement with air horns blaring across the baseball field in Forest Park as nearly 70 pilots lit up the night with their colorful hot air balloons.

Each time the air horns blew, flames would shoot into the huge hot air balloons creating a mesmerizing glow against the dark sky. I could feel the heat from the burners on my face and the wind from the force of nearly 32 million BTUs blowing my hair as I photographed the scene. The “oooohing” and “ahhhing” from the huge crowds around me was deafening.

It was just magical.

This painting, in a contemporary mat black plein air frame with gold insert, will be available in the next Live Charity Art Show and Sale to Benefit MS, Friday, September 25, 7pm (CST), on Facebook.