Tuesday: Time for unification


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Tuesday: Time for unification

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I work into the closer trees on the right; these will establish the core of the reflections in the pond. On these trees, there is more detail in the branches, but I still need to keep it loose…back to careful randomness! I work fast here, spontaneity being the key. I’m using only Davy’s Gray and Indigo Blue now. I will use only four pigments throughout this painting; I am focusing on the subtle interplay ofthese colors to achieve the mood I want.
Winter scenes obviously do not have the endless variations of color and tone as say, a spring scene would have, but it is not that simple. The effect of the subdued winter light makes it extremely important to study and recognize the subtle variations it creates in the landscape, and use these to infuse the painting with life and feeling.
Keeping it simple, adding and subtracting as I feel, I move through this phase fairly quickly.


Now it is time to unify the rest of the painting by establishing the snow. This is fairly straightforward and simple, but when painting snow you must always be careful. Snow is a very tricky surface to work with, very similar to water in my opinion. As when painting water, you must be vigilant and aware at all times when painting snow, a misstep, and you can lose the feeling of the surface, and therefore the believability of the snow, or water. Once you lose that believability, there is no way to recover it, and the painting has failed. There is a lot on the line.

At this stage, I am looking to accomplish two things. First I want to establish the overall lighting and atmosphere of the painting, and I do this by repeating colors from the sky in the snow in subtle ways. Secondly, I want to establish the overall shape and form of the snow. Again, as in the previous step, this is a foundation upon which I will build the snow areas with additional washes of color. Because of this, I allow a good portion of the snow to remain white at this stage.

I work fast here, never lingering in one area, working with light and shadow, keeping the edges soft, using lots of water. This completes the foundation of the painting. It is a cardinal rule; without a strong foundation, you cannot build a strong painting. This is true for anything in life, not just art.