This painting is created from direct observation en plien air over a period of weeks (overlapping with the early part of the City and State “stay-in-place” COVID-19 orders). It was created using an iPad Pro, Apple Pencil and the Procreate app. Every brush stroke was made as I sat at the Palace of Fine Arts, a magnificent creation designed by Bernard Maybeck for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco.

The time-lapse replay of the painting plus some shots of the scene as I painted.

As it explains in Maybeck’s Wikipedia biography: “The Palace of Fine Arts was seen as the embodiment of Maybeck’s elaboration of how Roman architecture could fit within a California context. Maybeck said that the popular success of the Palace was due to the absence of a roof connecting the rotunda to the art gallery building, along with the absence of windows in the gallery walls and the presence near the rotunda of trees, flowers and a water feature.” And on the sign at the edge of the lagoon it further adds: “Maybeck also believed that architectural elements should come together like notes in a musical score, eliciting emotional responses from the viewer. He designed the Palace of Fine Arts to evoke the sadness and beauty of looking at a Roman ruin. If you visit the Palace repeatedly, you will notice that the mood is rarely the same; weather and time of day conspire to change the play of light and shadow over it’s surface.”

As I repeatedly returned to the Palace, always sitting in the same place at roughly the same time of day (late afternoon until sunset), I saw a different lighting and mood every time! Thus this painting depicts a myriad of moods, lighting conditions and skies. You can see that in the time-lapse replay. That’s the beauty of plein air painting over time and something that can’t be painted from referring to a single photograph. The more I observed the more I saw. There is magic in the air at the Palace of Fine Arts…

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