|Asian Garden at the Museum of Shenandoah Valley, watercolor, 10"h x 14"w.|
The Outdoor Painters of the Shenandoah held its first plein air outing of the season last Wednesday at the gardens of the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley in Winchester. The gardens were filled with seasonal blooms: flowering Cherries, Magnolias and Redbud, with hundreds of flowers such as Bluebells, Bleeding Hearts, and Daffodils below the unfurling leaves. Ten of us artists were there to make the most of the day. It was an overcast day, but as it wore on it became brighter and warmer, and by afternoon, the sun was peeking in and out of the clouds.
The Museum gardens are fairly large, and after taking them in briefly, I decided that the pond at the Asian Garden, surrounded by stonework and flowers, with a tea house beyond, would afford the best subject. Choosing where to place myself was tough--someone else was already occupying the conveniently-placed bench at one end, and I didn't want to block the path from other visitors. Eventually, I settled on a large paving stone that jutted out a bit into the pond, surrounded by low evergreens, that gave me a few square feet to work in.
|Photo of the Asian Garden|
The composition was challenging, and needed some editing. I chose to place the large tree by the pond at the one-third mark of my paper to sculpt the curve of the pond, and balance it with the stone path on the right. I then rearranged some of the trees and compressed the area around the tea house to fit it in. The small Kwanzan Cherry by the path was edited to just a couple of blossoming branches entering the picture diagonally. While I worked, a pair of Mallard ducks hung around the pond, an ideal setting for a nest.
It would take the entire day to finish my painting, thus it was fortunate the soft light didn't offer much in the way of changing shadows to chase. Around noon, I took a break and walked back to the picnic area to join other artists for lunch. Back at my spot in the afternoon, I decided to add one of the ducks to my painting--such a lovely spring day!