Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Painting Snow

I have really been inspired lately reading Stapleton Kearn’s blog, especially his endurance for the cold. If you enjoy plein air painting you will learn a lot reading his blog. For the past 2 months we have had regular snow storms about every 2 weeks or so and I have had many opportunities to get outdoors to paint and explore the subtleties of snow. The definition of subtle would be: difficult to perceive or understand, delicate, faint, and mysterious. I was debating with some of my teenagers that snow is rarely white. But it is a bit elusive unless you spend time outdoors to study it. In this post I will show you 2 recent painting of snow, one under overcast and one in morning sunshine with shadows.

Here is the start of a study of Jacob’s Fork at South Mountain State Park in NC. The previous night they had received 10 inches of heavy snow.

This photo shows the cool light of the overcast on my son's skin and jacket.

Here is the finished 9 x 12 oil study with some minor corrections back indoors. You may be able to perceive cool lights of the snow, and reflections, greens, grays, and the warm shadows of the river bottom, forest darks and snow shadows. Now these temperature differences in the colors are just whiskers in difference.

Here I am painting last weekend about 9am in the morning when the sun came out. Oh what a joy this is! The color variations of snow in sun are a bit more bold and easier to paint. But the trick here is to carefully catch the color of the shadows on the snow. Now I am referring to a clear sunny day with blue skies.  Now when the sun is low on the horizon, as in this scene, the shadows will be more blue and beautiful. As the sun gets higher in the sky the shadow become more lavender and grayer.

My finished morning snow 9 x 12 oil study, finished almost all outdoors. Just a little bit of clean up work and signing indoors. I hope you can see the temperature difference with this painting from the other. The lights are warm and the shadows are cool, which is opposite of the other painting in the overcast light. Again no where have I painted this snow pure white out of the tube. The sun lit passages have cadmium red and lemon added to the white to indicate sun light on the snow. Taking photos of snow rarely reveal these subtleties. The artist must dig and study to get them right by painting plein air.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent work. I love how snow catches and scatters light rays, making it appear almost pearlescent.