Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Anatomy of Winter

Or... "Why I love winter"
It is very simple really, winter is the time to see the bones of the landscape.  Shape and form simplify, the way the hill tucks into its self, how the woods run along the ridge, blurring edges.  Sometimes the gift is even greater, the world goes black and white! (almost!)  The usual colours are leached from the landscape leaving a very limited pallet and highlighting some very unexpected splashes of colour.

I find that I go for many walks in the wind and rain, usually, the snow and ice when I am lucky.  Just recently we were blessed with snow, a rare event down in Cornwall.  So I was out armed with camera and sketchbook, little bits of watercolour paper and small gessoed cards.  I have mini versions of almost everything I might need, including a tiny flask of hot coffee.  I have a terrible old coat that smells but is made of waxed cotton and is long enough to provide instant protection from a wet bottom on most occasions.  The good dog Coco comes along as well.

One of the best features of these winter art forays is the lack of people.  Not having to explain what I am doing, or having someone looking over my sketchbook while I try to draw is bliss!

What I tend to do is scribble a lot, in different mediums.  Small watercolours to use as they are or to turn into larger ones back in the studio.  Little oils, which look like rubbish but provide essential colour refrence and are worked into later.  Here is one such oil, sitting in the studio awaiting its "makeover"!  Look at it tho, I dont think those greens in the water would be there any other way.

I often make the same walk, I like to see a place in different weathers, times of day, seasons.  To really know trees and places, like talking to your subject while making their portrait.

Watercolour sketches provide something different again, it seems to me that they are like poems where oils are like stories,the poems are smaller in length, often more consice and more about a feeling or one thought?

And then it snows again, it is irristible so out I go again and paint some more.Making the most of this stripped down landscape, trying to learn my winter anatomy.
Back at home, in the warm, long evenings, good things on TV provide yet another oppertunity...snoozing models!


Katherine Tyrrell said...

Wow great post Sarah. I do have to agree with you about one of the nice things being that there are so few people out and about

However I have to confess I don't walk in rain or ice or slush. Nice powder snow is OK though!

What a good idea - gessoed postcards. I'm sitting here thinking why haven't I tried that! Or even colourfix on mount card cut up to postcard size!

Katherine Tyrrell said...

I forgot to say how nice it is to see your images pf paintings.

Africantapestry and Myfrenchkitchen said...

Beautiful Sarah - so clear that you DO love winter! The way you present winter here, shows its mutlitude of possibilies...and its beauty!
Thank you1

Jeanette said...

I can't say that I like winter, but I agree that the starkness of the landscape holds lots of possibilities.

Sketching and painting on site really does help capture the feel and colours that can then be translated back in a studio.

I need to get out and do some, I just need daylight and time!

Lindsay said...

Sarah, what I love is how you manage to get the values tight and the lines loose. What a lovely combination. You've inspired me to get off my rear!

Pica said...

Loving the pencil work in your sketches, especially in the ducks' wake...

vivien said...

what a wonderful series of paintings and an evocative write up

Just gorgeous

I agree and the 'bones of the land' is phrase I use too :>) I love the skeletal trees - I'm not so hardy as you these days about sketching out in the winter, I used to but the arthritis really objects.

Robyn said...

How beautiful to see a celebration of winter rather than moaning about it as I am inclined to do.

Great post and I particularly love that last little watercolour. Brava.

Rachel Murphree said...

you've captured in words and paintings what I love about winter, and you've done it so beautifully! I don't get to sketch/paint as often as I'd like in a busy life with grade schoolers, but I'm always admiring and noticing the different colors and light angles of every season, and a tree without leaves against a winter sky is one of my favorite things.