Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Two Views of Winter

"The Old Toboggan"

Yes, I'm Still Painting Winter Scenes

In preparation for the Art of Winter Show at the Thousand Islands Arts Center, I started this painting during the week in between Christmas and New Year, finished it last week.

I'm not sure where this old toboggan came from, my dad acquired it long after my childhood sledding days. He offered it to me when my kids were growing up but since it had no cushion and my kids were more into skiing than sledding I declined the offer. Many years later I saw the possibility for using it as transport down and up the snowy, hilly road (?) leading to camp. 
When we go to camp in the winter after a big snowfall we usually cannot get even the trusty Subaru down the twisting, turning road. So the toboggan comes in handy for bringing the cooler, cat carrier and any gear we need for the weekend down the hill. And yes, you read that right we do bring the cats in their comfy carrier with extra blankets to keep them warm. We are usually wearing snowshoes to help us walk in the deepest snow, so I'm sure we are quite a sight. The woodpeckers are nearly falling out of the trees with laughter as we plod down the hill, with our gear falling off every time we round a curve. And that's the easy part. When it's time to go home it's all uphill--we move a lot slower but are nice and warm when we get to the top of the hill.

In this painting I've presented a winter scene in a traditional format of foreground, middle ground, background. The winter sun is low in the sky creating spectacular shadows across the snow. Various shades of orange, pink, yellow, white and purple mix in here and there and catching the high points. Atmospheric perspective is indicated by the muted colors and minimal detail in the woods. The toboggan is the focal point and receives more attention in its details. The warm colors of the toboggan especially where it catches the light bring it forward and pull it away from the background.

Another View

In the painting "Five Birches" (below) I've presented another view of Winter. 

In this painting the focal point is in the middle ground, but elements from the middle ground overlap into the  foreground which seems to disregard the picture plane indicated in the middle and background. I had fun with this one, and although there was some planning involved, there were parts of this painting that just "happened". That is one of things I like best about watercolor.

I used a limited palette of cool blues mixed with Payne's Gray, balanced by the warm tones of the purple and pale yellow to set the mood for this painting. I feel that the day is ending and night is creeping in, but the viewer might think otherwise.

At this time of the year as we are moving slowly toward longer periods of daylight, the idea of chasing the light appeals to me and it seems to be coming out in my paintings. 

Related posts
You can see another recent winter painting in my last post. Just click on the link below.


  1. Wonderful work Joan. I would love to see the show, but ... winter.

  2. Yeah, it's funny that I love to paint winter, but can't stand the cold. I'm not fond of the gray skies either and we seem to have so much of that in CNY. The winter is so much prettier when the sun is shining on the snow.