Every town has a famous or picturesque street, and in Baton Rouge, Louisiana it is Third Street. There are restaurants, bars, and music venues between office buildings which are nearly one hundred years old that have seen several renovations during the last five or so decades. Along the sidewalks are trees and flower beds, outdoor seating for restaurants, and the crosswalk of the street itself is creatively painted.
Several of us took the opportunity to do some plein air painting downtown on Third Street during the stay at home order. Because so many offices and businesses were closed, we could almost get in the street to paint. Almost. (We may be crazy, but are not stupid.) The brightly colored awnings got my attention. I began five paintings during the stay at home order. Painting the urban landscape is a challenge for me, so I was happy to have the opportunity to practice on the streets of Baton Rouge. Those people who were out were happy to see painters, offering encouragement and compliments. I will take those any time!
For years I drove past this pasture filled with yellow flowers and thought how much I would enjoy painting it. I realized the property backed up to a subdivision near my home so I would get out for a few hours to paint. I met the owner as he was cutting the field as I was painting it. I asked if I could paint the front of the property, and he and his wife were happy for my painting friends and me to spend time working there. It has become our go-to place during the stay-home order this spring.
This property has become one of my favorite landscapes to paint. 11″ x 14″ $400
The Baton Rouge Plein Air group painted at Cinclare Plantation in Port Allen, Louisiana at the tail end of the sugar cane harvest. It was a cloudy, humid morning, and we spent quite a bit of time looking for a paintable scene. There were several white houses along a gravel road that led to another cane field. The structures appealed to me, but it was the color of the leaves and the road leading to a neutral colored field that made an impression on me. Fall color appears late in the season in SoLA, and as long as there is not a lot of wind, it hangs around for a few weeks. Knowing the trees would be stunning just as soon as the sun broke through the clouds, I blocked in the shapes, pushing the color where I believed it should be (and because it’s what I do) and waited.
Finally, the sun appeared, throwing light on the yellow, orange and red foliage. The clouds disappeared, and I was able to put some blue in the sky. Happy Day!
Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is home to an excellent park system. With both BREC and the LSU Ag Center, there are many gardens open to visitors and plenty of opportunities to volunteer to maintain them. One venue, the Independence Botanic Garden, recently underwent a renovation. The Botanic Garden Foundation organized a plein air painting event to raise funds to maintain it.
The event was planned for Memorial Day weekend, but the call for participants went out in March when the temperatures were pleasant enough. I was not really thinking about the weather when I signed on for the paintout, and as the dates of the event neared, I began wondering how my painting friends and I would tolerate the heat. Even by south Louisiana standards, it was brutally hot the last two weeks of May.
On the first morning of the event, there were thirty artists painting in the gardens. One could see their umbrellas peeking over the bushes. It was such a wonderful sight. Visitors walked their dogs, brought lunches to eat, or took graduation photos among the flowers.
At the end of the event, the wet paintings were displayed in a room of the library overlooking the garden. There were many guests and quite a few sales, which benefited the Botanic Garden Foundation. Votes were cast for Fan Favorite I & II, and I was thrilled to be selected as one of the favorites.