Monday, January 25, 2010

Painting Snow

"Snow on Munds" - 12x9 - contact Michael

When someone talks about painting snow, ask what kind of snow he's talking about. There's snow that you have to wade into up to your thighs to paint, and then there's snow you can see comfortably from some warm, sunny place. After all the snowfall we had on the Mogollon Rim this past week, the weather hasn't warmed up much at the higher elevations, and, I've heard, the road up through the canyon is still iffy. But I wanted to paint snow, so I found the perfect spot: the parking lot of the Sedona Arts Center.

SAC has a great view of Munds Mountain and the surrounding hills. In the early morning, the slopes are in shadow, and it's not until mid-morning that the sun comes around and lights up the rocks. I've painted that view several times over the years, sometimes as demonstrations, but other times just because I like it. (By the way, through SAC I'm teaching an Intro to Pastel class starting in February, and a field expedition with David Haskell to Marble Canyon in April.)

Yesterday, I arrived at the parking lot when it was still only 30 degrees. I had to take a walk first to warm up, but the sun soon got bright and warm. I set up and painted for about an hour. I was almost hot by the time I finished!

There was a great deal of both "warm" and "cool" in the shadows of the mountain. Blue skylight bounced down into the shadows, but then, so did a warmer light, which bounced in from the surrounding sunlit hills. As much as I like the idea of putting down a stroke and letting it stay, I did a lot of massaging of the paint here, daubing in warm color, going over it with cool color, and then going back over with warm color again. If you look hard enough, you can probably see me thinking out loud in paint.

I also wanted to include this small sketch I did the day before, when snow squalls were still sweeping through Sedona. This is a squall over Thunder Mountain, painted from the Cultural Park. You can see the "Coffeepot" rocks to the right of Thunder Mountain.

"Squall over Thunder Mountain" - 5x7, oil contact Michael


billspaintingmn said...

'Thinking out loud in paint' I like that!
As fun as it is to put down a stroke and leave it, I also want to
correct myself if I stroke wrong, or the color was off.
So, 'Thinking out loud as I paint
is a good rule.
I'd rather make a couple of correct
strokes, than one wrong stroke.
(for cryin' out loud!)

Michael Chesley Johnson, Artist / Writer said...

Me, too, Bill!