Friday, 24 January 2014

Painting snow scenes

    This seems like the wettest January I've ever experienced, but even so there have been 3 or 4 absolutely fabulous days of glorious sunshine, blue skies and hardly a breath of wind, which shows that if we wait for them, and have all our art gear ready to go, we can take advantage of some beautiful spring-like days even in the wettest of Januarys. I've had some marvellous moments sketching in the hills lately, but all too brief.

    Anyway, in anticipation of some snow (much to the neighbours' concern we've been invoking the little-known snow-making ritual in the garden, but so far only attracted further deluge), I shall just cover a few basic points to help you with your snow scenes. This painting of a Herefordshire scene in late winter I did many years ago. I began by making the sky dark enough to highlight the snow-covered roofs, which were left as white paper. Even so, the cloudless sky suggests a fine day. To avoid the scene appearing too cold all over, I emphasised the red-brick walls of the buildings, and this also draws the eye to them as the centre of interest.

    Clods of earth from the ploughed ruts peek up through the snow, and I have re-arranged them slightly to aim towards the buildings. The field under the strong sunshine reflected dazzling white all over, but I wanted to subdue some of this so that the emphasis would be thrown more towards the centre of the composition, so I washed clean water right across the field and then a wash of cobalt blue with a touch of cadmium red over the immediate foreground and to either side. This is a technique you can use quite easily to highlight any part of a painting you wish.

    Enjoy the snow when it comes! I must get out into the garden again.............

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Adding a little mystery to your Watercolours

    I'm only just dragging myself out of that Christmas sloth, not encouraged by day after day of pouring rain. Where is all that lovely snow? Anyway, thanks to all of you who send us Christmas greetings. It was much appreciated by Jenny and myself.

    My art year has started with an article in Leisure Painter Magazine and 2014 rings up another milestone: I've been writing articles for Leisure Painter for the last 30 years, and it has been a marvellous relationship with some great folk. So the painting I am featuring here is part of that article, although I shall now be discussing a different aspect.

   The picture shows a small corner of a watercolour of Tenby Harbour at dusk. This is a magical time to capture images, as the atmosphere tends to be more accentuated, and you are less likely to overdo the detail as so much of it is lost in the atmosphere! Although in this instance I could actually see  more detail in the buildings, I deliberately avoided putting in too much, and in fact simply laid a weak wash over the lower parts so that the suggestions of masts and boats would stand out more. At such times shapes run into each other, often creating a sense of mystery, so going out in search of subjects when you can hardly see them might at first sound rather perverse, but it does teach you a very powerful lesson in creating mystery and atmosphere.

    So I shall end by wishing you all many magical and mysterious moments of happy painting in 2014