Monday, May 9, 2016

Missouri Wine Country Inspiration

We left San Antonio in April to stay in St. Louis for the Augusta Plein Air Festival. This event is right in the heart of Missouri wine country, making for a very inspiring place to paint and photograph, and spring is our favorite time to be in the Midwest. Storms can be intense, but the weather otherwise is perfect for spending time outside. It rained quite a bit the week before we arrived in St. Louis, so the Augusta area was especially lush and green - picturesque farms and vineyards everywhere, and the very charming town of Augusta on a hill overlooking a wide flat valley and part of the Katy Trail. Augusta has a lot of beautiful old barns, so it ended up being a barn kind of festival for both Patrick and I - he did three different barn paintings for the festival, as well as a study of a tangle of tree roots at a lake edge at Augusta Shores. We also spent time in Femme Osage and Defiance - the whole area is definitely worth a visit if you are passing through. Kate's Coffee House has great coffee, breakfast, and lunch, and the Augusta Brewery and the Silly Goose are great stops for lunch and dinner. The brewery has a tasty selection of its own beers that are worth trying - what's better than a good cold craft beer after a long bike ride on a beautiful day? Or after a "hard" day of painting and photography?

Patrick Saunders started the festival with this painting for a quick paint, and "Missouri Foundations" (oil on panel, 12"x16") won First Place that night

I started the festival being enamored with this vintage sign in Defiance.


Patrick Saunders also taught a painting workshop at Augusta to a full house - they had to cut the class off at 20 people. Mary Ann Virant was kind enough to allow the workshop to be held on her beautiful vineyard property. Her dog Moxie stole the whole show that day, trying to get everyone to stop wasting their time painting and throw her favorite stick (log) or frisbee for her instead.







Moxie waiting for Patrick to stop talking and play fetch with her


Seriously, this qualifies more as a log than a stick, and if you weren't strong enough to throw it far enough to suit Moxie, she'd move on to someone who could

Group shot of the class at the end of a fruitful and beautiful day

Patrick and I then spent a morning at a barn on Church street in Augusta that we won't soon forget. We got up early so we could be there to see the sun come up. Patrick decided to paint the barn backlit by the sunrise, and I photographed the warm orange play of light across the front of the barn as the sun rose. It was a peaceful morning spent lost in doing what we love. These are the moments we live for now. Having more time to get and stay lost in the act of creation is one of the best parts of our current lifestyle.

Patrick painting the back of the barn

My photograph of sunrise on the front of the barn - you can just see the white top of Patrick's painting board in the left hand corner behind the barn


Anyone need a gently used hay baler?

It's hard to discern in the photo, but an old fabric rag hanging off of what might have been a table of sorts had such strong and beautiful light on it in this moment that I had to try to capture it

"Good Morning, Church Road" (oil on panel, 14"x18") by Patrick Saunders

 We then spent a sunset in Femme Osage, where Patrick did a quick study of a creek bed that he decided he didn't love, while I wandered around the church and cemetery grounds.



Festival officials asked Patrick to stop by local morning television show Great Day St. Louis on KMOV to talk about the event, and you can watch his interview with Laura Hettiger here.

Patrick with some of his paintings before the interview
 A public demonstration painting Patrick did during the festival

We got up before dawn on one of the last days of the festival for a quick paint at the Frisella Nurseryand just before Defiance we saw this sight and decided to stop and photograph it. The sun was just coming up and there was a thick fog resting on the field. The lone distant tree shrouded by fog struck us both, so I tried to capture it, but my photo didn't really do the moment justice.


A Red Rouge Hibiscus Flower at Frisella Nursery

How cute are these owl sculptures at Frisella Nursery?

We really enjoyed our time in the Augusta area - so much to see and do and try to capture.

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