Friday, 31 December 2010

Going with the Snow

Most Christmasses, I'm given a book about painting - usually from my wishlist.  This year's was How to Paint Colour and Light in Watercolour by Jean Haines, which I first spotted in an edition of Artists & Illustrators.   Frankly, I thought it might give me a shove - I haven't done any painting for a while - and bring me back to where I started out with watercolours several years ago - letting go and going with the flow.  I'd seen some snowy Cambridgeshire fields from the car on Boxing Day which had given me the idea for a subject.  Even a heavy cold couldn't deter me from making a start (though it did ensure I sat quietly and read the book through several times before attempting to put anything on paper).

Snowscape I
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

Now, I never like to follow a book slavishly, but, aware that I'd become stuck in a rut with my colours, I chose suitably snowscape-y ones similar to those which Jean recommends - violet, ultramarine, alizarin, indian yellow and turquoise and laid down a wet blended wash of several shades as instructed.  Then I mapped in some hedges with violet and ultramarine - remembering to let them blend on the paper rather than mixing them on the palette - and added a line of grass.  Deciding that something was needed in the foreground, I painted in some cautious twigs - far too carefully, but Jean came to the rescue with the idea of splattering some water on to soften them.  Even so, the first painting turned out a bit on the stilted side, and the washes dried extremely pale - but hey, I'd done a couple of hours painting and really enjoyed it!!

Snowscape II
watercolour & gouache
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010

For my next attempt I tried to be a bit more dramatic with the washes, and used Jean's suggestion of tilting the paper to create a few runs which might suggest something for the composition.  That's how the tree (which I never envisaged in the first place) ended up top left; the way the washes dried also suggested where the hills should be (we're a long way from Cambridgeshire now.  Perhaps somewhere near Hereford?).  Instead of twigs I added a foreground of grasses over some large wet areas I'd slapped in with the Chinese brush  I bought last July and never used (thanks for the tip, Jean!).  It's a long time since I've done any spattering but it soon came back to me (including - too late - the bit about never wearing a white T-shirt when trying this technique) and I added some white gouache snow to the grasses for good measure.  The spattering does add life  to this picture - perhaps a little too much!!

Snowscape III
watercolour & gouache
© Teresa Kirkpatrick 2010
For the third painting I was determined to strengthen those background washes still further.  Ironically, the fact that our snow has melted means that the days appear much darker, and lack of time decreed that I laid down the background relatively late one afternoon.  By the time I went to bed I had no idea how to proceed with the resulting effect - I couldn't see a picture there at all - but I woke this morning with the idea of a house spilling light onto the snow from its doors and windows.  I'm not that keen on the hedgerows in the first two paintings so I left them out completely and defined the hilltop with an ultramarine wash over the sky.  More grasses, a bit of spattering with colour and white gouache - it's no masterpiece but it's shown me the way forward LOL.
Happy New Year!!

1 comment:

  1. These are wonderfully, hauntingly atmospheric - you can almost feel the cold and the misty light effect is fabulous. A superb evocation of a winter's day, whether in Hertfordshire or Herefordshire!