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.
For the past several weeks I have been immersed in painting classes – 2 or 3 a week, and too many hours to count. I finally decided I was doing more than was good for the rest of my life, and decided to cap it to a few hours a day. That balanced things out as I was getting rather nutso.
This is based off a Pixabay photo of trees and snow, at sunset or dawn. I am not sure if this one is “finished” yet, but think it is done enough to scan and put online. It is acrylic paint on a piece of 11×15 watercolor paper. I decided to use it as the paper is 100% cotton but the sizing is not good. As I bought the paper a long time ago, I cannot return it.
One thing about painting in acrylic, you can paint on a lot of different surfaces. I like the feel of paper beneath my brush more than a canvas panel that I have gessoed. Maybe it is because I am used to its surface texture, but there is more of a connection there with its surface – smoother than a cotton canvas panel, but with some tooth. I do plan to learn more about oils later this summer but need to play with it a lot more and figure out where to paint as oil solvents, while now often odorless, are still volatile and not exactly something to be breathing in a closed space.
As I work on learning how to paint I also explore different artists. Right now I have been looking at a lot of the Russian artists of the Impressionist variety along with ones from the 1930s, such as Nikolai Timkov and his fellow painters. Impressionists and more modern painters appeal to me because their sense of color and brushwork, as well as subject matter, are more to my liking than any other era. I like abstraction, too, so a bit of all of these appeal to me. Strong graphics, elegant composition, good colors get my eye. Art is really a personal thing anyway. What I want to hang on my walls may be nothing you would even consider . . .
All this painting is also making me think about brushwork. It expresses so much. Smoothly blended or broken? I think the next exploration will be broken brush strokes and trying to choose a color and put it down – paint it and leave it, as Ian Roberts is telling us!
It’s a pleasantly warm day today – bare feet and a nap on the patio kind of pleasant day. Still, I long for cold and gloomy weather, real winter weather. I know, I know – if I was living in the middle of it, I would think differently.
That said, a gouache in a more painterly manner than pointillism, up in the mountains somewhere, looking on to the distant dusting of snow. Gloom. Snow. Cold. Yeah! Don’t go wading in the river, either! Just enjoy it, and then return home to hot cider and a fire.
Our cold winter thus far has hit a low of 64F or so in the past several weeks. No snow, certainly; sadly, no rain, either. Perfect for the next fire season, which is becoming a longer and longer annual event.
So, I dream of snow, and pull up memories of living in upstate New York, hiking for miles across woodlands and farms in the early morning or early evening. The light slants, the air mists, and a winter wonderland becomes a magical world filled with rivers and creeks, trees, and trails left behind by others.
I’ve been really into doing wet-in-wet watercolors this month, and think it may become a theme for the month of January. So many areas of watercolor benefit from it. Skies seem to lend themselves to it, but so do fog and reflections.
Here, a winter landscape, partly from memories of those lovely, cold afternoons in upstate New York or rural Illinois, when the clouds were low and dark, snow was on the ground, but somehow, the sun made it through, casting shadows and a bit of color on the vast swaths of white.
The end of 2019 is here, the Christmas season is winding down, and 2020 approaches. I have not done much painting in weeks except for a gouache for my SIL as a present . . . I thought a simple watercolor would be a good place to begin a return to painting.
Interestingly, when I have not painted for awhile, I don’t get caught up in the same issues I do when I paint a lot. Why is this? I think it is because I am doing it for the simple pleasure of a watercolor – not to accomplish a goal or something. Hopefully this element of innocence can be called upon for future works.