Winter Trees at Dawn

Second pastel.

Here, I used a medium blue paper and tried out different techniques, such as circular blending with the pastel itself, a torchon, fingers. I used vine charcoal and charcoal pencils for some of the finer lines.

The snow on the trees was an interesting challenge. To accomplish it, I scribbled some pure white pastel onto it, and then used the tip of the torchon to blend around it.

Compositionally, I think there is something missing here . . . I also think the midground could be a bit different to convey a sense of depth.

For a second bout with pastels, I can say I am enjoying what I am doing, even though I have to dress like a hazmat worker! (I wear a mask to keep the dust down.)

Winter Aspens

I am really rather pleased with this gouache – haven’t done any since last year!  When I am painting in gouache, each one begins okay, with clear ideas in my head.  And then it gets really and truly hideous.  And then, it changes, almost by itself, and comes together in a way that watercolor doesn’t.  I don’t know how to describe it, but the process is quite magical – just like snowy woods in the late afternoon.

Late Afternoon

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.

In the Cold, In the North

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.

Have a wonderful New Year 2020 everyone!

The Red Barn: A Matter of Perspective

Of course, we all want our fans to tell us how talented we are and what perfect paintings we do!  Sadly, that is not reality.  In and of itself, The Red Barn is not a bad painting – I am rather pleased with it.  However, my husband is my nearest critic, and as he knows my issues of late with perspective, he pointed out, “The barn looks warped, like one side is buckling in.”

“Of course!” came my snarky reply.  “It’s old.  See?  There are holes in the barn.”  I pointed out the ones on the right, in shadow, under the eaves.

Well, I knew there was something wrong, but couldn’t pinpoint it.  This morning, I took it out for another look, and just with casual measurement between my fingertips, I found the problem.  The right front edge of the roof is shorter than the left edge.  The same applies to the right and left sides of the front of the barn.  Given the perspective of the painting, it is totally illogical!

This was truly a breakthrough moment.  I thought I had done the perspective correctly – in many ways I have, as with the road, and such, but the building itself was the problem.  I plan to re-do this painting today, working specifically on the barn roof and walls.  Hopefully success will follow!

Stay tooned (as my friend Fraggy likes to say!).

The Last Day of Winter

Or, maybe, The First Day of Spring?

I have been breaking out of my safety zone and moving on to using more expensive paper and larger sized sheets for painting.  Also, another is to use a somewhat limited palette, working to create colors by mixing in different strengths and blends.  Ultramarine and cobalt blues, burnt sienna and burnt umber, a dash of sap green.  Other colors include a mix of cadmium yellow and red, and some of Daniel Smith’s Primatek Sodalite (a black) for the road.

As always, there seems to be a lack of depth in my painting, despite my efforts . . . or maybe the road is not properly proportioned for its curve?

There is nothing like knowing Spring is nearly here, and see hints of emerging from the snow.

Disastrous Fun

I promised to paint more buildings.  So I did.  I painted a house in the middle of a cold, cold climate in the dead of winter.  I made better house drawings when I was 10.

I have really lost touch with real cold, real snow, and a real winter.  I do have memories, though, of the intense gloom of the woods in northern New York state.  There was something so magical about them – the silence of the woods, the snow falling, the sense of being alone in the world.  I liked the idea of capturing that with a building, on water, in the dead of winter.

Buildings mean people, even in the middle of nowhere, on a river.  People usually mean unnecessary noise, and in the woods or hiking, the last thing I want is noise.  Silence is something to be savored in our noisy age.

So, let’s get back to the “disastrous fun” of this posting.  “Disastrous” as this is such an amateurish painting, and “fun” because the more I got into, and the more I realized how awful it was, the more fun I had.  Making a “good” painting no longer had any meaning – it was the experience.  And the snow.

The final touch was the snowflakes.  White gouache to spatter.  I spattered on the painting.  It flew onto my glasses.  I spattered some more.  It flew onto my glasses.  I changed how I was spattering, and there were streaks.

Snowflakes don’t streak in the real world.  Spattering paint is an art form in and of itself.