Monday, February 16, 2015

Etched in Snow

Etched in Snow, gouache, 2.5" x 3.5" on Bristol Vellum
As we travel through this snowy landscape, I've noticed how one or two nearby trees are covered with a coating of snow that stands out against the darker woods behind. They're larger trees that catch the snow more than the snarl of dense growth behind them. I've wanted to explore the interesting white calligraphy they create, and I'm quite pleased with this painting.

It's hard to convey the size of this small painting, due to the size constraints here, so I shot this photo to help illustrate how small it really is. It's a little larger than your business card.

People often marvel that I like to draw and paint such small pieces. Many folks my age lose the ability to see details, but that's no problem for me. In fact, I'm most comfortable there. My nearby vision is excellent, although anything beyond my fingertips is blurry without glasses. It's convenient to work so small, making the dining room table my whole studio.

I added a touch or two of brown fine point Sharpie marker to this one. I rather like the resulting lines. I've always been a purist, thinking I had to use gouache alone, but in the last couple of months I've joined several online groups of painters working in art journals and my attitude is shifting, as a result. Why not make these mixed media? Whatever works! I expect you'll be seeing a few more such experiments in the future, although the vast majority of each one remains gouache for now. I love the versatility of this medium!

Favorite part: The falling snow effect that I was able to achieve using spattered paint. It's always a bit of a gamble to do this, but on the Bristol Vellum it works pretty well. The paint stays on top of the paper, not soaking in, as it will on more porous papers,. My technique here was to make a creamy thick mixture of water and Zinc white gouache, a paint that's more transparent in nature. I used a half-inch flat brush to spatter the paint with my thumb, and then placed a clean paper towel on top to remove the excess from the surface. I think it worked very well to give the impression of near and far flakes falling, as they have continued to do so often around my home lately! I can't deny I'm looking forward to spring.

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