We’re coming to the end of a rather strange year, and like many of you I am so thankful for being able to immerse myself in art, to take away the pain of lockdowns, social distancing and lack of travel opportunities. In my painting mind I’ve travelled to many fascinating places while in my studio: the Bavarian Alps (well, I did actually go there in February), Yemen, East Africa, Jordan, Egypt, Oman, Lebanon, Italy, and many other places. I hope you have had similar reflections on past trips while you paint.
With winter upon us it’s a good idea to prepare for any snow scenes, and as the snow doesn’t often last long in the UK we need to be prepared to move fast. This watercolour of Exton village shows only two thirds of the composition, as otherwise some of the features I discuss would appear too small. When working on snow scenes I have 5 tips to share with you:
1 With much of the paper left untouched to show the snow areas, throwing cast shadows across this will add interest, break up the flat whiteness, and can show up any contours in the ground;
2 Pull out highlights in cast shadows with a damp brush while the shadow wash is still damp, as seen in the foreground of the painting;
3 Introduce warm colours to alleviate the coldness of the snow, as I have done here with light red in the left-hand roof and the bushes, even if little colour shows in the scene;
4 Flecks of white in bushes and trees will enliven the painting, but avoid over-doing this;
5 While you can use masking fluid to enable you to create white on branches, fence-posts and the like, you may find white gouache or acrylic easier to render.
Enjoy your painting, and if you can’t get out then do as some of the Impressionists did and work from the comfort of an accommodating window, or of course a car. Monsieur Monet, however, quite undeterred by intense cold would put on three overcoats and take a stove with him to work in the snow!
Anyway, Jenny and I wish you all a Happy Christmas wherever you are, and may all your Christmas stockings overflow with paints, brushes and all manner of art materials.
See you in 2021!