painting in the snow
I woke up this morning to find that we had gotten an inch or so of snowfall. Whenever it snows, I find myself drawn to do an outdoor painting. A foot of snow would have been nice, but the dusting of snow has something nice about it as well- there’s more of a dialogue between the long grass and the snow.
My wife was eager to get out of the house, and so was my son Liam. So, the three of us headed to an old mansion near my house. As I set up my easel, my son pelted me with snowballs.
It was cold out there. Very cold. My fingers became dimwitted and lethargic, and took a few seconds to respond to my commands. My toes became absolutely frozen- should have worn thick socks. But, it was the nicest day of painting that I have had in a long time. It was absolutely silent, save for the sound of my wife and son as they played in the snow. There were a remarkable number of birds for such a frigid day. A winter landscape is austere for some, but in a sense, I’ve found this time of year to be my favorite. The air is crisp, the woods are quiet, and the branches are beautifully silhouetted against the grey sky. When you paint outdoors in winter, you can understand the whispered restraint and subtle harmony of Vivaldi’s Winter movement of the Four Seasons.
The canvas is pretty wide, about three feet, and so I’ll be working on it a few more times. My final verdict on the painting was that I liked the direction it was going in, though the problem was that I hadn’t seen the forest for the trees. I had a lot of detail, but I was failing to grasp the overall sense. And so, I took out a five inch wide brush, and wiped the canvas left to right. This kept all the masses intact, and knocked out the detail. I would have resumed painting, but I have to catch a train into the city in a few minutes.
Margaret took a photo of Liam as he walked down a wide path. You’ll see the photo here. It’s a beautiful composition, and I think I might do two paintings tomorrow. In the morning, I will paint the very same composition that my wife photographed, and afterwards resume my panoramic painting. I’ll dress warmer this time.