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  • Writer's pictureDale Jackson

Painting the Statue at Wegerzyn Gardens

I don't live far from Wegerzyn Gardens, one of a series of beautiful metro parks that are around the Dayton, Ohio area. I love to stroll the gardens and take photos of the area, especially the beautiful flowers grown there. One feature that I love to view is a small statue there. It's taken a beating recently from the tornadoes that passed through the area back on Memorial Day in May of 2019. Shortly after the park was reopened, I did some plein air painting there, setting up my easel near the statue. I then took this small study home and started work on a larger piece on canvas board. The park is beautiful and described by the Wegerzyn Garden Foundation, "Wegerzyn Gardens MetroPark began in 1973 as the Benjamin Wegerzyn Horticultural Center and in 1995 became part of Five Rivers MetroParks. Today it is one of our region’s finest public gardens! It is free and open to the public virtually year-round. More information about Wegerzyn and its programs can be found at" ( From my 2019 plein air experience:

My plein air kit

ready to paint in the open air!

Quick sketch

just sketching out a rough

My plein air setup

on the easel

Bringing the study home, I began working on a larger piece in oils. I decided to focus more on the statue, making the piece portrait instead of landscape. I began the painting by sketching and then painting the underpainting in burnt umber tones

After the underpainting is done, I've started work on the flora around the statue

My messy palette as I start to work out the tones of the statue

A few years later!

I have been teaching students how to draw for the last number of months so I paused on this painting for a good while, while teaching and getting other commissions done.

Today, May 31, 2021, two years after the tornadoes ripped through this area of Dayton, I've returned to finish this painting in my studio.

Here is my progress for today

I'm starting to block in the green foliage around the statue

Adding the trees behind the statue

I will continue to paint the trees in the background until finished and then turn to the statue once again, and then wrap up by finishing the foliage

Oh, just to see how close the F4 tornado came to this statue, here's some big trees that were broken just beyond the statue on the path. Beyond this area, there's a big swatch of broken trees, that follow the river where the tornado blasted through.

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