As a former soldier in the Army National Guard and history buff, I appreciate the park's history as Fort Lawton, a military base dating to the early 1900's. I used to collect militaria from that time period. Here is a display of a soldier's uniform circa 1905 that used to be part of my collection.
I love the pre 1910 buildings that have survived the past century. The first time I visited Discovery Park with Cheryl in March 2012 I was intrigued by the historic buildings. The houses on officer's row reminded me of the Avonlea TV series I used to watch as a kid. These homes are now on the market and if I had the money I wouldn't mind living there.
Though I love the park and it's ambience I am aware of it's darker history. During World War II 28 African-American soldiers were wrongfully convicted, without solid evidence, of an attack on the fort's Italian prisoners of war. These soldiers received dishonorable discharges and imprisonment. It wasn't until 2008 that the names of these men were cleared and a formal apology was made during a ceremony at Fort Lawton. After decades of appeal by the soldier's families, the men finally received honorable discharges. You can read about in the link I provided.
Plein Air Paintings and Drawings
I have shown some of these paintings before in previous posts. Here they are again along with other paintings I have not posted.
My first plein air painting at Discovery Park, watercolor. Mid June 2016
Plein air painting of the same view a week later in oil colors. Mid June 2016
Photograph of the area. I'll paint this view again in the future but I'll be more careful about my composition. After studying other landscape painters I learned I can be selective of what to paint. It's okay to move around some trees or eliminate others.
In late June I returned to Discovery Park to paint another view. Cheryl came with me on this trip and photographed me at work.
I worked on this painting over four 30 minute to an hour sessions. Here I am again in early August during the third session for the painting. Since plein air painting is new to me I'm working on my technique to paint efficiently outdoors. During the second session I tried using Rublev's Wilson Medium. It felt a bit harsh to me and was drying quickly on my painting. Maybe I wasn't using it right and I will revisit the medium in the future.
The end of the fourth session. This painting was a combination of painting outdoors and the studio. I was more selective with the composition, eliminating trees and moving others around so it didn't look so packed.
I learned a lot while painting this. I'm not fully pleased with the foreground and I think the trees are a bit stylized as a result from finishing it indoors.
My final outdoor painting of the summer, late August, work in progress. This was at the end of the first session after the light had subsided. The next day I went back again. I painted during the late evening when the light produces nice effects on the landscape. Usually I have only 30 minutes to paint. Hence the multiple sessions outdoors for one painting. Many plein air painters try to complete a painting alla prima- in one sitting. I prefer a closer study of nature, inspired by the Hudson River School painters of the 19th Century. At the same time I'm trying to be looser with my outdoor studies so they don't look as stiff as the painting before this one.
5" x 7" Cigar Box Studies
I made a couple of smaller studies using the cigar box pochade which I made especially for 5" x 7" paintings. The first time I used it was late July. I brought a folding chair for this purpose. During that session I had begun to set up across from the gymnasium/ PX building. A gentleman who is part of the board of trustees for Discovery Park came over to see what I was up to. At first he thought I was setting up a drone which he explained is a bit of a problem at the park. I told him I was there to paint and I showed him my pochade box and tubes of paint. He was pleased to see this and we had a brief chat about painting. He mentioned he had taken a few classes before at the Gage Academy.
I spent about 30 minutes on this before packing up as the light had rapidly changed. I finished it up in the studio. As with all of my recent landscape paintings I add figures for the sake of scale. They also represent our love and appreciation of these places. They are based on people I see at the park whether it be couples watching the sunset or people with there pets. On this evening there was a man and his dog playing fetch, though they were using the field behind me.
The last evening at the park in late August, I ended my session for another paint early because I wanted to make a sunset study. On the hill overlooking the park I set up and did this one in 15 minutes, working fast. At home I cleaned it up a bit. I was inspired by sunset studies made by Frederic Edwin Church at his estate at Olana in the late 19th Century. These are very loose, contrasting with the meticulous technique of his studio paintings.
Discovery Park is a place that I find inspiring and I love it's peaceful atmosphere. The views that it offers has allowed me to paint from nature. There are still many spots I want to paint in the future and I plan to make several larger studio paintings. I haven't been down to the beach yet to paint though I've hiked there two summers ago. It's a great alternative to crowded areas such as Golden Gardens. In an upcoming post I will discuss a studio painting I made last Summer.