Friday, January 22, 2010

Warm Winter Days

Two Winter Studies
oil on canvas
12" x 16" & 12" x 12"

Although this week began with a couple of heavy, wet snowstorms, the sun has been shining the past two days. Temperatures have risen right into the forties-warm enough for some plein air painting! I had been snowshoeing with Hatrick in the woods right outside my back door, so I knew exactly where I wanted to take my equipment for some sketches.

So I donned my fashionable one-piece snow suit, threw my loaded pack on my back and strapped on my snowshoes (more difficult than it sounds with my limited mobility-think Randy from "A Christmas Story"). I followed my own track across the lawn to the edge of the woods. The same path that offered a refreshing hike the day before became a strenuous quest under branches clawing at my backpack and tearing at my hat. Sticks jumped up out of the snow to tangle in my snowshoes. With my hands full of straps for my panel carrier and easel, I struggled to keep my balance as I squeezed between saplings and fallen trees.

Eventually, I rediscovered a small clearing with possible compositions in every direction. I paused and looked around, making sure to pick the perfect spot in which to unload all my gear. I gazed over my shoulder and, forgetting I was wearing snowshoes, took a step back. The next thing I knew I was lying on my backpack waving my arms like a flipped turtle. I had to crawl on my hands and knees before getting back on my feet. Luckily, only Hatrick was there to laugh at me.

Once I started painting, I had a wonderful time. I quickly gestured the shadows on the snow and the trees in the background and then it was just like any other plein air outing as long as I remembered that there is no "reverse" on snowshoes before I stepped back periodically to check my work. As I painted, trees threw snowballs at me and one spatted on my pallet, covering the ultramarine blue and cadmium red piles and much of the mixing space. Another chunk of snow got me in the back of the neck and slid down my shirt.

I had enough success to return the following day for another sketch. Neither of these are wonderful paintings, but I have gathered more information from doing them than I could from just looking or even taking photographs.

Plus, I learned that Hatrick is a terrific painting companion and I plan to invite her along more in the future.

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