Friday, January 19, 2007

Fireweed and Snow - Two Paintings

Hard to believe, but today it's 40 degrees with heavy rain. This storm was supposed to be a classic "nor'easter," and perhaps for those further inland, it has been so. Our 10-14 inches of predicted snow, however, have become an inch of rain. Prior to this, we had two days of near-zero weather with a windchill approaching 30 below! What a rollercoaster.

This kind of weather makes it hard to paint outdoors. However, yesterday the temperature rose to 30, and I was itching to try some of my new 5x7 panels. What better opportunity to try a quick study? I gathered up the oil painting gear and headed out into the yard, where at the time we still had abour 5 inches of snow from the last storm.

I painted the fireweed thicket between our house and the in-laws' next door. This time of year, fireweed shows its best colour when it's overcast. Yesterday it was a gorgeous mixture of alizarin crimson, ultramarine blue and just a touch of cadmium red light to warm it up. This painting, "Fireweed in Winter," has a thick impasto to it. The white I use, Permalba White, which is a mix of titanium white, zinc white and a tad of lead white, grew stiff and tacky in the 30 degree air. It was like trying to paint with toothpaste and using a clumsy toothbrush.

I wanted to do another 5x7 today, but the rain kept me in. Undeterred, I found a nice view from our warm living room. This is more fireweed, plus blackberry canes and wild roses -- and again, that wonderful, rich color -- with a view of Friar's Bay and, in the far distance, Eastport. The light had a colder cast to it than yesterday, when a bit of warmth touched the snow. Today the snow looks bone-cold.

Here's "Red Brambles." (You can click on the small images to get a bigger picture.) We'll see what tomorrow brings!

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