Three Degrees: Laying the Foundation


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Three Degrees: Laying the Foundation

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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.

3 Degrees 3rd Wash

Once the snow area is indicated with my base wash of color, I use the same colors for the houses. I move quickly here, striving for a unity of hue and color, and harmony of the snow and the white buildings. I also establish some highlight areas in certain areas of the buildings and snow. I pay attention here to light and shadow in the peripheral houses that are farther in the distance and across the street. These will give balance to the larger elements as I progress.

This is not the most glamorous part of the painting process, but it is a critical element of the whole, and I am careful here to get it right. The tendency is to rush through this phase, but you must resist and prepare carefully, for everything will be built on what is done here. It is like building a home, if you rush through and cut corners when laying the foundation, the integrity of the finished building will be compromised, and serious flaws are the result. The same is true for watercolor.