Category Archives: Art challenges

Snow – a winter challenge.

I’ve just completed a commission for a client and really enjoyed painting a snowy scene for a change, despite it’s challenges. Living this far south ( 42 degrees ) you would think I might see a lot of snow in our Tasmanian winters but the truth is it’s pretty mild here. It snows in the mountains but rarely at our house near Hobart and so I don’t often paint a winter scene with snow.

Snowy river reference
Reference photo for the commission

This is the photo my client sent me to work from. It’s a good composition with strong leading lines created by the curving river and the leaning trees – although the river has got a bit of a downward slope that will need correcting. There’s dramatic contrast between the light snow , the dark river and the exposed rocks and bare branches with some mid tones in the background trees.

What’s lacking is colour. The photo has flattened out all the colours into an almost black and white rendition of the scene. This makes for a very stark and cold feeling. “What’s wrong with that”, I hear you say. “After all it is winter and snow is surely cold!”  Surprisingly snow is not just white. Light hits the snow crystals and reflects back creating blues, violets,pinks as well as the expected whites. Then there will be dips and hollows creating strong shadows.

I decided I wanted to go for that sparkly winter feel. I created a  cool blue sky as a back drop to the sparkling snow. I used reflected colours from the sky and snow to  create more interest in the river and then changed the lighting direction to create a shadowed bank on the right so I could introduce violets, mauves and blues into the snowbank. The stronger directional lighting also allowed me to better define the river banks with the shadows of the tree trunks which also break up the expanse of snow. Lastly I injected a bit of warmth in the background trees with some ochres and yellows. This works really well because yellow and blue are complimentary colours  so the trees play off against the sky and the river creating a bit of a zing.2

Here you can see the painting and the photo side by side. It’s always a challenge when I change a photo for a more artistic interpretation to make sure that I keep the essence there for the client.

I’m happy with the changes – let’s see what my client thinks!

Winter river.
Winter River

This is what my client had to say “Wow it’s beautiful! I absolutely love it. It’s going to be my mom’s mothers day gift : )”

A happy client makes for a happy day!

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30 Minute Series Painting

30 Minute Series Painting- first pastel

Having featured the reference photo for this painting in a previous post on Creating a series and again for the photography 101 Cropping assignment I thought I should post my first painting in a series I intend to do based on a single photo.

As part of a personal challenge I want to limit the painting time to 30 minutes and video them for my You Tube channel

Here’s the photo alongside  the first painting and the video is in process.

 

Artistic interpretation

You’ll notice there are some major differences between the finished painting and the reference photo. I’ve ramped up the colours in the shadows which I’m pretty happy with although I think I might revisit and refine the shadow shapes a bit. The cliff is also a bit more colourful with some added orange accents that repeat in the reflections. The cliff slopes down a bit much on the left and needs a bit of a fix here as it tends to pull the eye out of the painting at this point.

What have I learned for next time?

Every painting teaches me something and when I go back for the next in this series I’ll be comfortable with the palette of colours I’ll be using. I’ll have noticed the tendency to let the cliff run out of the frame and will put a stop to that early! And I’ve made the trees a bit too orange so will nip that in the bud as well. Overall I’m satisfied – it was fun to paint, I kept to the 30 minutes, the shadows are nicely complex and I’m ready for the next one! I’ll keep you posted.

 

All paintings are available for sale in my Etsy shop unless marked as sold.