Wednesday, January 15, 2014


Ice Storm

I have never let it be a secret of my disdain for Winter.  It is bone chilling, nose freezing, eye watering, feet freezing cold.  Yeah, you can keep your muffs, mittens, skis and Ski-Doo's and leave me my golf clubs and a freshly manicured park of green grass to hit and chase a golf ball anytime! 

But I will also readily admit that Winter has it's moments of beauty.  I do enjoy a pristine field of un-marred new fallen snow.  Or the tender pastel colors that play upon it as the sun rises.  I am arrested by the sight of sunlight glistening and shimmering like a million prisms through ice coated branches.  But eventually the field becomes broken up by snowmobiles and dog tracks.  The roads become lined with dirty brown ice-sludge.  The ice on the trees melts away, leaving the stiff grey branches silhouetted against the cold blue sky like a hand reaching out from the grave... 

So what I have tried to show in my latest painting is the Beauty and the Beast, shall we say, of Winter.  That lovely blanket of pristine snow, the beautiful colors of the ice;  all about to be swept away as a plow comes rumbling through the scene.  My beautiful partner Ellen mentioned to me that this is the first time I have ever put a telephone pole and wires into a painting.  It's also the first non-horse conveyance I've painted, too. 

I guess it's my nod that life has progressed beyond the 19th Century.

Another thing about this painting is the technical part.  Yes, I saw this scene (without the plow) and took several photos, but I actually planned out each element.  Here's the concept drawing:

After that came the color study, etc...  Notice however that I don't have a plow in this drawing?  I noticed early in the actual painting process that I had fallen upon an old bad habit:  I lead your eye to... nothing. 

I did a post recently about studying design and all that, and one of the things that slapped me like an open hand on my forehead was the necessity of leading your masses to the point of interest.  Now, that sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?  But I really only had the "lead your eye" part down.  I'm pretty good at arranging a painting to keep the viewers eye inside the frame, but I was inconsistent at leading them to a specific spot.  That's where the snow plow came in.  All the lines and angles in this piece keep you inside the frame and bring you to the center-- but I had nothing there!  So, I put in the plow.  And in doing so, Voila!  Now I had a reason for the painting instead of just another pretty, but innocuous scene.

Could it have been a sleigh, or a cross-country skier?  Yeah, but then it would have looked old-fashioned, and I'm all about the modern...


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