Thursday, June 21, 2012

Painting Sunlit Water


"Ice Pond" 9x12, oil

Not too far in the woods behind our house is an old ice pond.  Those of you who don't live in areas with cold winters may not be familiar with the term.  An ice pond is a place where people used to get ice in the winter for refrigeration.  They'd use big saws to cut the ice and then horses to haul it to an ice house, where the blocks would be buried in sawdust.  The sawdust served as insulation to keep the ice solid throughout the summer.  Remember that when you go to your fridge and press the button to fill up your glass with chipped ice; you have it easy.




The other day, I hiked back to the pond to paint it.  It is a little kettle pond, left behind by glaciers ages ago, and tall spruce trees surround it.  Sphagnum moss lines its periphery.  Here and there, a birch has pushed aside the spruces and reached out a green limb or two.

What draws me to this pond is the effect of light and shadow on it.  When you have a pond with a certain amount of particulate matter suspended in the water such as this one, the water will glow a warm, muddy brown where the light hits it.  Shadowed parts take on an almost violet cast.  (By the way, that particulate matter didn't matter to our forebears; the ice was for preserving food, not for chilling a martini.)  For this painting, I first blocked in the warm, muddy brown areas and next the violety shadows.  The little bits of reflected sky light I added in toward the end.

One interesting thing you may note about the sunlit part of the pond is that it is nearly pure orange in the foreground and then cools to a more red-violet in the distance.  I didn't see it that way, but it helps with creating an illusion of distance from one end of the pond to the other.

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