Painting the "Garden Birthday Party"


I've always admired artists who brave the elements, unpredictable terrain, fatigue and deadlines to paint plein aire.

When the opportunity presented itself, I decided to give it a try. The Paint Webster Art Festival was virtual this year due to COVID-19. Always a regional event, nearly 100 painters stayed at home, on Saturday, May 9, and painted from their porches and yards from all over St. Louis City and County, and Metro East! 

It was also my birthday, so I decided to paint something really special. The "Garden Birthday Party” (size 14" x 11") features white Peonies in my garden next to my 124 year-old Victorian storefront home/studio. The plant came from the Dielmann farm in Creve Coeur nearly 100 years ago. They are still very fragrant. The straw hat and costume necklace is from my Grandma Elizabeth Salmon. I was named after her.

I woke up with the sunrise to get an early start. The temperature was in the thirties so I went back to bed and tried to talk myself out of painting outside. Didn't work. I finally got up around nine and fixed a hot oatmeal breakfast as I knew it was going to be a long day. I'm a newby at this, so it took nearly two hours to figure out how to set up my new easel and gather all the supplies from the third floor. I ended up making many trips until everything was in place.

Ready, set, go. I sketched the scene on a canvas that I had prepped and then started mixing the water-based oil paint. As I was working, my sleeve picked up some paint off the palette. I ran inside to wash off my coat and changed into an old sweater. 

It was an exhilarating experience painting under a bright blue sky. The colors were so vibrant. It was a joy just listening to the birds chattering and going about their business looking for worms and bugs. Even the roar of motorcycles racing down S Broadway and the occasional ambulances and firetrucks blaring past seemed to just fade into the distance.

Around 4 o'clock, I laid down the last brush stroke. My right hand and arm were almost numb from the long session.

Good News: I made the deadline to submit the very wet painting via a photo sent by email. Now it's time to vote for the People's Choice Award! There were so many wonderful paintings submitted, but I hope you will vote for my entry #34 here:

Paint Webster 2020

The polls are open through Monday, May 18. (No ballot box stuffing, please!)

Notes to myself: It's really hard to paint straight lines when it's windy. In my hast to finish, I forgot to reapply sunscreen after washing up for lunch. The next day, my right hand was the color of the historic brick I had painted. And a hat might have saved me from a sun blister on my mouth.

I can't wait to get outside again and paint!

Elizabeth (Betty) Moore
artist/photographer

P.S. Don't forget to vote for #34 :)