It was snowing all day. It was light and fluffy, a dreamy kind of snow. It fell gently and drifted lazily from the sky hour after hour. It didn’t amount to much, only a few inches. It was a coastal weather event. It made everything look picture perfect. I went out to the marsh early, hoping to find snow frosting the marsh. No chance, it was too warm, in the low 30’s, so the salt air and water was dissolving the fresh snow as it fell in the marsh. Little drifts of snow were piling up along the edge of the marsh grass along the road. I headed over to the large grassy area near the harbor. There the snow was piling up in the paths and meadows to the edge of the tree line. It was lovely. A wind started to blow out of the north. I set up my easel inside the back of the car so my palette wouldn’t fill with blowing snow. The clouds were rolling through and breaking up. Just then the sun peeked out from behind the gray clouds . I looked up. Directly overhead I could see bits of blue sky. The gray weather was starting to break up. I finished my painting and headed home before the cold air set in.
Today I had a big “to do list” filled with lots of tasks. There was no wiggle room to drive anywhere to paint or sketch. By mid afternoon I was running out of time and my class was starting soon. I picked up my sketchbook, went to the window and started sketching the view with an ink pen. Then I pulled out my gouache & watercolor kit and painted in the scene quickly. It was a very gray day. Just bits of snow were left over from last night’s snowfall. It wasn’t dark enough for the lights to come on and the sunset hadn’t started yet. Snow started to fall in tiny fine flakes. I finished the last quick strokes of muted color. Yes, it looked like a cloudy, gray winter day. And that is what it was. The thing I love about sketchbooks is they are so mater of fact. Anything works in them. Just put it in and leave it. It’s about recording the moment, whatever that moment is, it’s just authentic, simple and matter of fact. Later, in another place and time when I look at this page I will remember this winter day.
Today started off sunny and bright with not a cloud in the sky. There was a perfect bright blue sky at 8 am. The next time I looked out the window at 2 pm, it was completely overcast with the sun glowing through a milky cloud bank. I checked the weather. Snow is coming tonight. I went over to the marsh and set up my easel at 4 pm. It was completely gray except to the north where there were still clear skies. It was absolute low tide. There were bits of snow and ice on the grass edges and on the sand in the channel. I decided to paint the view of the creek to the north. Everything was in shades of lavender and ocher with the sky glowing in shades of gold. It was quiet. Behind me to the southwest the clouds got thicker and darker. I painted fast, the colors of the marsh stayed consistent while the sky to the west turned pink for about 3 min as the sun set. A damp chill set in. I was cleaning my palette when a strong, cold wind suddenly started blowing out of the north. Wild. Why was it blowing from the north? The storm was coming in from the south west. Of course it’s probably only me and fishermen heading back into port who would even notice this wind.
It was 37 degrees when the sun set. Shortly after the sun went down it dropped to 29. The colors were lovely. The moon was over head. The lights in the houses and streets all along the edge of the marsh went on. They twinkled and glowed across the miles. There were no clouds in the sky except at the very edge of the horizon. I love the vast empty sky as it stretches up over head. The stars began to come out. Six geese flew south this evening. Not like a few days ago when there were a at least a hundred in the large V that went south after sunset. Maybe these were trying to catch up with them. I can’t figure out why they are still heading south in the middle of winter. It’s something that I need to check out. I love going out every day to paint. It’s really magical. After the chill we had over the past few days it felt noticeably colder today. The paint was acting very stubborn today, a little like concrete. It usually doesn’t act like that unless it below 20. For the first time ever I had a small brush freeze into a stiff little concrete stick. After a few dunks in mineral spirits and rubbing the paint out with a paper towel it was back to normal. I still haven’t had to wear my Iditarod tundra gear, maybe this weekend. It promises to be colder than this past one. We shall see.
Today I decided I needed to do some sketching. I started looking through my sketchbooks looking at my recent sketches. I remembered some sketches I saw yesterday by a french artist who paints with direct watercolor and is really relaxed in her style. I looked out the window at the back field. There were light beams running across the yellow grasses. I went and grabbed a large flat water brush. I didn’t draw anything I just started spontaneously putting in large areas of color. I kept my palette limited to 4 colors. I used a piece of watercolor paper I had in my little pochade box. It was very funky. The paper immediately pilled and the surface started to peel off. I grabbed a paper towel and scrubbed off the shredding pieces of paper. I next pulled out a brand new brush I hadn’t used yet, a large, soft, sable blend dagger . Because it’s so soft I thought it might not shred the paper. It worked like a charm! I was able to load the brush with water & paint and just let it rip. What fun! I painted the whole painting wet into wet with watercolor and gouache. I was able to maintain the loose, spontaneous feeling and get a nice variety of shapes and edges. I think I will try some of these quick paintings on different kinds of paper to see how they work. It certainly is a lot of fun to paint loosely with watercolor and gouache.
Today I decided to mix it up a little bit. This morning I thought about painting an interior scene or a view from my window. I ended up choosing a window view. This is the what it looks like out one of my kitchen windows. I was going to sketch it with ink. Then I spotted a sketchbook with brown paper in my studio so I picked that up and brought it into the house. I decide to use my gouache & watercolor combo. I painted with my sketchbook resting on the kitchen counter while I looked out the window. The sun and shadows were moving very fast. The brown tinted sketchbook paper was very different from the watercolor paper I used a few days ago for my gouache painting. This paper has a very smooth surface and can’t take tolerate much water. I couldn’t make a light transparent wash of color on it. It would buckle and ripple. The the brown color of the paper came through. I had to use thicker paint and add plenty of white for the lighter colors. Next time I might only paint with straight gouache on this paper. We will see. I need to experiment to find out the best media for this substrate.
I was out in the marsh late this afternoon. It was awesome! Huge snow clouds rolled in. It was warm, just above freezing and the wind was light. A front was moving through. After the wispy cirrus clouds this morning the edge of colder air began to head toward the coast this afternoon. Along with it came all these great clouds. I knew immediately I wanted to paint clouds, there were so many interesting cloud scapes with all kinds of colors and bits of sky. I painted 2 quick ones before it got dark. Today is the last warm day until midweek next week. I’m not complaining. It’s been a very mild January, with only a little snow. This is fine with me , when there’s lots of snow I can’t easily find places to park when I go out painting. I’ll enjoy it till February comes !
We had a snow squall last night. In 20 minutes everything went white. It was lovely. I was in the studio teaching a class when this happened. I’m glad I wasn’t out driving in it. Today there was a nice frosting of white on everything. And it snowed on and off all afternoon. I was catching up on lots of organizing in the studio today so I stayed close to home to paint. At 4:15pm I moved my easel outside into the back yard. Before it got too dark, I quickly painted a view of the neighborhood across the field. As it got dark my easel light was still packed away in the car. I said I’m not going to stop and go get it. I had the glow of the Christmas lights on my studio to help see. It was great! It was quiet, and there was no wind. Out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw a big moth fly by while I was painting. I thought it was a bit cold for an insect. It was a big fluffy snow flake. It was magical.
All day we had sun and clouds with a chilly wind. I was short on time today as I teach a class in the evening, so I stayed home and painted the view of the white pines on the edge of the field. The best view is from my deck so that’s where I stayed. I could probably paint this view a hundred times, in every light and season. It’s my “hay bales” motif. I really like painting with a combo of watercolor and gouache. And I especially like painting with my dagger brush. I would paint more often with water color and gouache but they take so long to dry. Oil just lets you keep painting wet into wet. I can paint faster with oil as I never have to wait for any color to set up. Great clouds today . Somebody was getting snow showers somewhere to the north and west.
It was sunny with thin clouds today. When I arrived at the marsh at 3:30pm big gray clouds were moving in from the north and west. There was blue sky over the ocean and to the south. I set up on the top of a steep hill above the marsh. It was high tide. The view down across the the marsh was amazing. Because I was up above the marsh I could see all the brooks and rivers that flow into the marsh. There are so many water ways that you can’t see when you are standing down in the marsh. As I painted the view the clouds moved in and the sun set. The sky out over the ocean turned a tangerine yellow . The violet gray clouds were a nice complement. As a I packed up my paints It began to get dark. A street light went on and the houses near by lit up. In the woods a short distance away I could hear the non stop yowling and howling that I heard last night for the first time. I think its a pack of coyotes making a ruckus.