There is a certain enchanting beauty about a heavy snowfall on evergreens at the end of a winter’s day. I wanted to capture the peaceful quality of a northern Canadian landscape since this is where I’m from and we certainly have had a peaceful and long winter this year, which has brought several inches of snow although I am getting rather tired of the snow at this point in the year. This will probably be the last snow painting that I depict for a bit and plan on painting other subjects including a few spring landscapes if I can find the proper references or the wherewithal to paint.
I rarely talk about the actual application of the pastel however it might be interesting to some so…Many pastelists like to use harder pastels in the beginning and layer the softer ones over top however I don’t really like the hard pastel I have well enough to use them so I move straight to the Girault which are medium hard to the really soft one’s like Ludwig and Unison and keep layering until I either achieve what I want or I run out of layering surface. I don’t bother with an underpainting or anything fancy. It’s better to concentrate on things I need to work on improving such as the values changes, composition and color application.
Early on a Winter’s Evening
It’s the time of year when winter seems to be lessening it’s grip on this part of the world and the fluctuations of temperature are prominent and the atmosphere seems to soften and grow a little less frosty. I notice the soft apricot glow of the morning sunrise and wanted to capture that quality in the winter painting. I also like how the tree creates a nicely arching habit which creates an almost circular movement around the piece. I was also careful to simplify the color scheme to capture the subtle tonal value changes often seen in the winter months along with the soft light of early morning. This work is also about forms and how they relate to one another to create a sense of drama. I used artist quality pastels including Unison, Terry Ludwig and Girault on acid free Wallis Pastel Paper.
It Was a Cold Winter Morning, Pastel on Pastel Paper, 12×18″
I live near a wetlands area connected to the river system and a large lake so there are many different forms of interesting wildlife in this area too that this precious habitat supports. I wanted to capture the essence of this natural setting in one of my few wetland paintings and the first one that I have done of this type of landscape in the winter season. In fact I seem to be exploring the theme of water and wetlands in the winter season just lately and have completed three pastel paintings describing this type of habitat in the snow.
Winter’s Warmth Along a Marsh, Pastel and Pastel Paper, 12×18″
A Winter’s Evening, soft pastel on paper, 9×12″
I’ve been concentrating on painting a few winter scenes lately since we have a white winter this year like we are supposed to here in Canada and it has put me in the mood to depict this type of scenery. I wanted to capture a scene at the end of a winter day so there are some warm tones in the snow which are being cast by the setting sun. I wasn’t happy with the finished painting and neither was I happy with the photograph and think that I need a new camera. I don’t like the gold light higher up behind the trees either. I also think that there should be more violet and blue shadows in the foreground to the right side of the picture. That bright blue color in the tree’s might be a little intense too. Maybe continue the snow covered shrubbery to the bottom of the painting on the left side.
I made a few changes as described and I think that this work has improved. I also was careful to adjust the photo on the computer so the contrast wasn’t as sharp and more like the actual painting. I also tried to adjust the photo so the colors were more like the actual painting although the colors are a little too soft perhaps.
Before the Changes
Finished another winter landscape painting which is set in the mountains and depicts a lovely wood cabin. I think the mark making is a little tight and needs to be looser or more expressive, for some strange reason my style keeps changing like I’m accessing different facets of my creative knowledge or style which gets a little frustrating if it’s not working or very interesting if it is working. I don’t normally paint mountains or buildings so this was a bit of a learning experience for me however I’m not completely unhappy with the work. Traditionally I haven’t painted buildings however I thought that they might add some interest and structure to my work. I used some of the colors in my new Unison Lights set of 18 and find that I really like them and they are great for winter scenes. Pastels used include Terry Ludwig and Unison on Wallis Pro White Paper.
Winter Cabin In the Mountains, pastel on pastel paper, 12×18″
The planning and original block-in for this painting started way back in January, but due to an illness that is taking longer to recover from, I couldn’t finish it until early April. I tried working on it on the good days but found that I kept losing my focus and changing things so this one turned out way differently than the original plan. I guess that’s what the artistic journey is all about. Don’t know why oil painting has to be more challenging when you not feeling well, thank goodness for soft pastels.
Snowfall on Evergreens