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Old 10-15-2008, 03:06 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Arrow Exploring Soft Pastels (ESP) Classroom - Snow

I'm teaching a class on how to paint snow tomorrow and I thought I'd invite some of you to join in and paint some snow scenes... I'll take you through my steps and show what comes of my demonstration tomorrow, and we can talk about some of the snow 'rules', too, if you like.

I wanted to start by looking at some of the snow painters whose work I admire. I always find it helps me to get inspired and to think about how different paintings can look.

Richard McKinley


Brad Faegre


Horace Champagne


Doug Dawson
I'd love to know whether these appeal to you, maybe which is your favorite and why.

Which one looks snowiest? What tells you it's snow and not sand?

Are there other pastelists you admire for painting snow? Can you show us a painting or point us to a web site?

Tomorrow I'll show you one or two steps in the progress of my demonstration. Meanwhile, here's a little snow painting I did one Christmas for a card I sent out:
That might be a thought for you. Maybe design a Christmas card! Or just paint snow for the fun of it and if one comes out well you can use it for that. (No pressure.)

Hope this is something y'all are into! It may be fall in the northern latitudes but snow is coming soon... and those down south might just enjoy a little chill.

Deborah
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Old 10-15-2008, 03:39 PM
Tressa Tressa is offline
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Hi Deborah! Before I even moved my page down to see the rest of your post, I recognized McKinley's scene. He is one of my top favorites. Of the picks you have shown he is my number one, followed by Doug, and then the starkness of Brad Fraegre. Not sure what it is but the one by Champagne doesn't appeal to me as much. I am a bit distracted by the harsh reddish-orange and the ultra marine blue in b/g.
your painting says to me the same as my favs. It reads cold snowy and winter.

For me, what says snow and winter months is in the cool shadows,the deep areas in shade, and the way light just flashes against them. I think it is this contrast that appeals to me.
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Old 10-15-2008, 03:58 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Tressa, here's one of Horace Champagne's I like even more! You have to take a peek at his web page. (obviously, www.horacechampagne.com)


He paints Newfoundland and these are aging icebergs. I think his work is wonderful. Maybe it's that his work isn't technically snow but ICE!

Yeah, I think you're onto a key element of snow: contrast of light and shadows. Snow can be any color, though, can't it? I mean, in these paintings alone I see turquoise, lavender, purple, red-violet, cobalt blue, teal, and peach!

Deborah
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:35 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

I would LOVE to do a Christmas Card. I also like Richard McKinley's snow scenes and they are often the snowiest yet they still have a lot of life and color to them and not gloomy or dreary. But I also like yours very much Deborah for the same reasons. Here in Prescott we have snow falls and everything looks magical under a foot of snow and then the sun comes out and it looks brilliantly beautiful. Look forward to your demo and maybe doing a Christmas card of my own this year. Thanks for your help as always. Winny
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:38 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Count me in! I'd like to know the secrets to landscape...
McKinley is my fave of the paintings you posted, I find the blue's really appealing...Faegre appeals to me to - the energy - great!

This should be fun, I know it'll be a great lesson....

Merethe
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:39 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

I liked all four of them in different ways, but if I had to rate them in order -- it would be Richard McKinley, Deborah Secor's Christmas card, Horace Champagne (accurate icebergs!!!), Doug Dawson, Brad Faigre.

The textures in the middle of Brad Faigre's seemed a bit jarring, where the snow covered branches of the center tree are the same as its background but only a textural difference like a heat shimmer. It's a disturbing but powerful effect and may have been deliberate, but it gives that scene more edginess and less of that sense of serenity at getting way out into the wilderness than the others. It doesn't seem as much of a happy picture.

Deborah, your card only came in second because the waterway in Richard's is one of the wonderful things I have always dreamed of being able to paint. I have a mental list of Cool Things To Paint that I've seen many times and always wanted to do. Yours is more colorful by a hair and has a jolliness to it that's magnificent in a Christmas card.

Richard's reminds me of being way out in wilderness alone feeling spiritual and really being out there, wet feet and all, that rich deep note of awareness of the world and its beauty. It looks as though a lynx or elk might come out of the trees and come down to drink. It is wild, it is wonderful for that.

Deborah, yours is the jolly looking out the window in a snowy climate with adequate heat on a happy morning very close to Christmas and anticipating everything from presents to sledding. It looks like a weekend when school's out and play is demanded, and the anticipation is bigger than the presents themselves ever could be in reality. Yours has that feeling. It's so emotional and brings such a huge smile. I'd love to do a holiday scene, or several, with anywhere near that Yuletide warmth.

Doug Dawson's is neat, it's another Christmas looking one with the bird feeder, heavy snow and evening blues. I love the way he captured the time of day with it. The birds have gone in and gone to sleep. The little contrasting orange red bar at the peak of the birdhouse roof is a great accent.

Both of Horace Champagne's paintings give me the fantasy of wild adventure and hauling out with sled dogs and much with the equipment going where no one would ever want to if they were in their right minds. The bergs are true to color and so massive. That is a dramatic landscape that can kill you! It hits me square in the boyish heart.

Brad's has a different kind of realism, it's more like the textures I didn't like as much were also part of something else -- of riding through snowy places on a trip and seeing things that are not perfect or choreographed. Road-trip feeling, with mixed memories of great joys and hard times together.

When I rated them in order it's not to say that any of these aren't spectacular -- think of them as half-point or quarter-point preferences, because each one has a story and which story hits my mood is very much a thing of the moment. A second look at Brad's reminded me of the trip to Kansas in the winter and made me smile at the memory of my daughter. It has a lot of motion in it, the jarring effect almost gives that impression of seeing it only for a moment as the car is moving.

These all have something glorious to teach. I am looking forward to this lesson and going to enjoy it so much! I need to do snow better -- and looking at these is also showing me everything that went wrong in previous snow drawings and paintings. Thank you for doing this, Deborah!

How did you manage to convey the glorious feeling of Goofing Off on Christmas Break?
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Old 10-15-2008, 04:41 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

gee I'm glad you started this thread Deborah! I have wanted to try a snow scene using some old photos I took many years ago.

Like Tressa, I recognized Richard McKinley's style before getting to the bottom of the painting. He is one of my favorite artists. I love that second one you posted from Horace Champagne, very powerful, to me.

so I'll be pulling up a chair for this thread.
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:00 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Wonderful snow painting examples, Deborah, yours included! That painting by McKinley is such a jaw dropper. It is a much better description of snow and all of its magical properites than any photo ever could be. I thought the painting by Brad Faegre looked familiar, but it's just a coincidence. Here's a photo I took from my porch last winter and I never could figure out how to paint that light. Looks like Mr. Faegre did it for me!

I love how he showed the snow on the branches in his painting (a good clue that it is snow and not sand!) To me, Doug Dawson's looks the snowiest. I can see the dense, wet snowflakes coming down and there isn't much distance to be seen beyond those branches. I look forward to whatever you can share with us - thanks!
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:03 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Glad you all are in, but help me out here...! Tell me what you have to do to paint snow effectively? Tress said contrast of light and shadows. I mentioned colors.

How do you know it's a snowy field in McKinley's painting and not sand????? Take a minute and analyze the qualities. (BIG hint: think of the basics, gang. Color. Value. Shape. Line. Contrast. Edge.) What makes you even think the birdhouse is in snow??? It could be cotton season!

Deborah
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Old 10-15-2008, 05:15 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Donna, we crossed. Yep, you're onto something there. Sand doesn't build up on branches very often, does it!? Dawson's flakes are a clue, too... Distance is obscured sometimes, yes...

I agree that Faegre did a good job on the time of day. The title is Dusk on Winter Fields. Love your photo. I think you should paint it!

Deborah
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Last edited by Deborah Secor : 10-15-2008 at 05:27 PM.
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Old 10-15-2008, 06:00 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

For me, I'm thinking it's the temp of the colours used.....I see snow, I think cool colours, sand, well...warm colours...That's my thought process.

Even with the Dawson piece.... the overall feel of the piece is cool, just seems like a icy winter morning with those blues.

maybe it's because I'm in the North...."If it looks like snow....it must be snow!" LOL
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Old 10-15-2008, 06:37 PM
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Deborah Secor Deborah Secor is offline
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Yeah, true, Dania. (By the way, hi! Good to see you...) Temperature is important in this, and of course that's relative to the painting. But warm against cool colors speaks of snow a lot.

What happens to your car when 3 feet of snow falls? How do you still know it's a car?

Deborah
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:03 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

I think I like snow paintings because of the contrasts of cool/warm, light/dark. It also give me a peaceful feeling when I look at an untouched snowy field or snow covered trees.

As soon as I saw this thread, I had to grab my old issues of PJ and look up an artist who was featured in the December 2007 issue, Susan Lampinen. Some of her paintings look so simple, but when you really look at them you see all the different whites. Check her web site at http://susanlampinen.scarf.ca

I live up north too, and if you don't embrace the snow, you will go crazy. I made myself a promise that this winter I will seriously attempt to paint snowscapes. This thread is great timing because I just heard we are expecting flurries tonight.

Doug
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:10 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

You can count me on...I have been thinking of trying snow scenes. I have in other mediums but never pastel. We haven't had any snow here since December 2004 but when it first falls it is pretty and exciting. Ours never lasts long at all here of course but snow scenes in paintings are so pretty to look at.
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Old 10-15-2008, 07:44 PM
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Re: Snow Lesson--Join in!

Snow scenes...

Strong values dark to middle tones that may include white but don't need to. The whole scene can be blue like Doug Dawson's and it reads as blue light on white.

Clumps of snow. The shapes of snow are very distinct and rounded, with dark objects showing where patches of it are missing. In McKinley's painting, the shapes of snow coming down to that iced over little creek are a cue. So is the blackness of the water, ice can look very dark in the wintertime and open water can too. Clumps on branches making lots of little patterns of strong contrast. Shape combined with value contrasts has a lot to do with it.

That and blue does. Snow always seems to have bright blue shadows on its shapes, even if the sky isn't blue there'll be some blueness to the shadows on it. Usually a purplish blue but not always, the Arctic ice is the blue-green that icebergs get. It was looking at snow scenes that finally convinced me a mid-value bright blue was accurate to describe the shape of a white object. Up till then I'd been very cautious with shadowing on white.

The highlights can be pinkish or golden at dawn or sunset but the shadows are usually brilliant blue with maybe a little violet if it's pinkish light.

McKinley managed to convey thin ice with his creek. I looked close and the reflections are there, the ice is super dark and shadowed, but it's still also moving under a thin layer. Combination of shapes, colors and values, I think.

Twigs and weeds coming up through snow will have it clumped around their base and occasionally on them like on thin branches, and look more golden-red against snow than they do in a winter-browned field before it snows.

Snow has a thick three dimensional rounded wet presence and that rounding makes the shadows distinct and strong.

If the snow is still coming down, visibility will be very short, and there won't be any distant ground. The middle ground will fade out as much as distant ground would in other seasons. Sharp contrasts are closer and atmospheric perspective gets extreme in snow scenes.

It always seems more colorful in reality and in paintings than it is in photos. Photos seem to gray out the snow shadows from blue, but in reality they get that bright. So: strong contrasts except in the distance, very blued shadows, curving clumpy shapes on top of things that simplify them, anything pushing through may look more warm colored by contrast.

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