I went to Pixabay looking for snow and shadows and cold weather. The painting is of the photo below, done in gouache, 7×10.
The challenge here is depth of field – details – not too many details – simplification – and most fun of all, the shadows on the snow. I really enjoyed looking at the photo, imagining myself in it, and wondering where it is I am. In the photo, the white snow on the bare tree branches is really easy to see, but with gouache I always find my whites are never bright enough. Always interesting to compare a photo to a painting!
My last pond was apparently lacking in a certain level of correct flatness – people said they felt like they were falling into it. Brrr! Not something I would want to happen! Given that, I did try to make this pond look flat as well as give a sense of a cold, wintry afternoon at sunset.
I was never any good at skating, but I did try it out a lot when I was a kid. We moved from a really cold place in the midwest to a warmer climate on the east coast, leaving rural farmland with ponds and lakes for a bit of suburbia in New Jersey. Every year the neighbors would get together and scrape the snow off the nearby lake, test the ice, and create a skating pond. We were never allowed to go by ourselves because of the chance of falling through the ice, but it seems there was always a dad or mom to supervise a dozen kids in snow suits, wipe away our tears, keep us generally under control.
More gouache, this time on toned paper – tan specifically. The tan paper seems to give an extra warmth to the colors applied over it. Besides using toned paper, I am trying to venture into different areas – here I am doing a totally urban scene. One thing nice about painting old buildings is that standardization wasn’t quite like it is now, so my door don’t all have to be the same size, nor my windows! Heck, even the cobbles are rather rough.
I like painting in gouache, but there are times when it gets to be a bit tricky as it re-wets and it is easy to pull up lower layers of color. To help prevent this, you need to start with thinner paint and add the heavier colors later. If a drop of water falls off our brush, you can make a bit of a mess in the area it lands. Most people when they use thicker gouache paint smaller paintings – it is not a paint that spreads out generously and stays opaque. The charm and challenge!
I’ve spent the last two afternoons following along with an online class in gouache. It’s been fun. The main focus has been skies and their moods as shown by clouds and color and time of day and weather. For some reason the dark and stormy sky stayed in my mind’s eye, and visual memories of days of yore came back.
I don’t know about where you live, but here in California where I am, the clouds are seldom domineering and frightening like they can be in the tropics or midwest. I remember one day when I was about 9 coming home from school and the sky was nearly black with clouds. It was still daylight, but it was in the fall of the year and cold. It was eerie and scary and beautiful. All the colors in the surrounding fields and meadows and trees were brighter than usual, almost to the point of being unreal.
That is what I have tried to catch here – intense light, strange light and colors, a wildness waiting to happen.