Friday, January 9, 2015

Lake Effect

We had a band of lake effect snow come through during the night, leaving about 8" of snow on the ground when we awoke. This afternoon, with the sunlight streaming on the reflective snow, bouncing even more light into my living room, it was a good day to paint.

But then any day that I open my paint box and apply gouache to paper is a good day.

Lake Effect, 2.5" x 3.25" gouache on Arches 300
This one I titled Lake Effect because I composed it while watching a video of the lake effect snow that's common around here. You might recall that just before Thanksgiving, Buffalo had a storm drop 7 feet--you read that right, 7 FEET--of snow. That was an extreme example of lake effect. Far more typical is about 5" or 6" of snowfall per hour.

Lake effect is caused by arctic air crossing over warmer lake water, sucking up the moisture and dumping snow. We really do get these weird bands of dense snow, like a big finger reaching off Lake Erie. We'll see blue sky above the snow band's lacy edge, gleaming in the sunlight ahead, as snow begins to fall.

If you're interested you can read more details about lake effect snow from NOAA, Warm Water and Cold Air, The Science Behind Lake-Effect Snow There it says:
Within the band, snowfall rates may exceed 5 inches an hour and be accompanied by lightning and thunder, a phenomenon known as thundersnow. A band of snow can hover over one location for several hours, dropping several feet of snow; however, 10 to 15 miles on either side of that narrow band skies may be sunny with no snow at all.
The only thing odder than driving from the sunny landscape into a visible snowstorm is to arrive there and encounter lightning and thunder! As I heard someone say, it's as if the weather is throwing everything in its arsenal at you at the same time.

Favorite part: The gleaming white snow band at the top, suggesting the bright sunlight on this side of it.

I also like the way the spatter worked to suggest snow. If you ever do this in gouache, make a slurry of water and white paint (I used Zinc, which is more transparent) that's a little runnier than toothpaste. Let the spatter set slightly, but before it's dry mist it with a light spritz of water from a spray bottle to soften and blur it slightly. Then step away from the paper until it's dry!


I decided to add this photo when I saw how HUGE this little painting looked on Facebook. I re-sized the image above so it's closer to the real thing until you click on it. Here it is in scale for you.

The color of the image at the top is far more accurate, but this gives you a sense of its actual size. Normally I paint ACEO/ATC size, 2.5" x 3.5" but I had some odd pieces with the deckled edge on them and grabbed one for this experimental painting.

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