Winter Road – Karen Winters Daily Painting

“Winter Road” – 8 x 10 acrylic on canvas board

Today’s painting has an unusual origin. I wanted to do another snowscape – perhaps a winding road type of picture as I’ve done of some fall and spring scenes. But I lacked a photo reference to work from and there’s no snow close by. So I took another picture of a summer scene and imagined what it might look like after a blanket of snow. This is the result. The thinking through process meant that I had to invent what was behind the foreground trees – because I couldn’t see through their summer garb. The real terrain was actually rather flat and I wanted to see more billowing drifted snow, which meant modeling mounds, thinking about lights and darks created by those mounds, and the color of the shadows. The cast shadows of the trees also helped describe the terrain. I decided that I would have the sun coming from the left, so I’ve touched a little warm color into the snowdrifts on the sunward side. A rural mailbox was added to clarify that this is a road, not a frozen river

An exercise like this causes me to think more about what I am painting rather than just copying it. How many cast shadows do I want to include? What color? What shape? Where do they fall? What is my pattern of darks and lights? What colors do I want to introduce for variety? Most importantly, what is the mood that I want to create?

One of my goals for the new year is to try to be even more observant about nature, wherever I may be. That means looking more closely at some of the details I’ve mentioned. It means noticing the effects of atmosphere on different days. It means looking at the structure of trees and shrubs and carefully noting their peculiar growth habits. I think that this practice will help a great deal with plein air painting as well.

I know that a lot of the US is laboring to clear away heavy snow left by blizzard conditions. In California we tend to romanticize and glamorize snow because we get so little of it. So this is my way of enjoying a white Christmas when the real thing is still a faraway dream.

Snowy field – Karen Winters Daily Painting

9 x 12 acrylic on paper

Freshly fallen snow – a moment of quiet winter beauty. In this sketch I’m using acrylic in a watercolor manner.

I’ll write more later – things are busy right now.

Snowy Creek – Karen Winters Daily Painting

“Snowy Creek” – acrylic on canvas on board – 9 x 12 inches – SOLD

I needed something on a holiday theme to take for show and tell to an art association meeting, and there was no time for oil to dry, so I painted this in acrylic in a very loose, impressionistic method, using watercolor technique also.

I really have artist Dory Grade to thank for demonstrating some of the wonders of acrylic. I had misconceptions about it – not the least of which was believing that it dried too quickly to be blended. Not so! If you work quickly (and I do) and use some matte medium, you can blend as easily as in oil. And a few minutes later it’s dry. Don’t like the colors? Paint over it and blend again.

Most of this was painted with a small one inch flat brush. A rigger was used for finishing touches of twigs and limbs.

Pacific Memories – Karen Winters Daily Painting

Pacific Memories – 5 x 7 inches acrylic on canvas on board

Much of the coastline of Northern California (and above) lacks the warm beaches and golden sand we know here, but it is blessed with craggy rocks of every shape and description. These rugged areas invite exploration – but not on a day when the surf is high.

On a different geographical note, there’s a good chance we’ll see snow in the mountains when we wake up – an unusual event for our area. Perhaps in a few days we’ll have a chance to drive up into the Angeles National Forest and see some snow-bedecked trees.

Painting like crazy

I’m painting and framing like crazy on deadline for three different shows; updates coming soon. In the meantime, so you don’t think I’m slacking, here’s one from the archives …

Santa Barbara Glow – 7 1/2 x 11″ – acrylic

Let’s Play – Daily Painting

“Let’s Play” – 8 x 10 acrylic on canvasboard

A few days ago, at an art gathering, one of the people mentioned that a local art club was having a show on the theme “Americana” and invited me to submit something. I realized that it was too late to paint something in oils, due to the drying time, and I wanted more of an oil look instead of watercolor. So I decided to paint this in acrylic instead. I don’t often paint in acrylic but I have to say that the convenience of having something done and ready to show quickly is really appealing.

I’ll also consider this something for the Everyday Matters “Draw some sporting goods” challenge.

The more different media I explore, the more I come to realize that painting is just painting. Although there are specifics that are pertinent to the particular medium (painting from light to dark in watercolor, vs. dark to light in oil … having to ‘save whites’ in watercolor vs. the freedom of painting white over other layers in oils) … a great deal of painting is much the same. Brush handling, painting values and shapes, composition, modeling forms – these things are very much the same no matter the medium. The other day I picked up one of Charles Reid’s books on flower painting and I was amazed at the consistency between his watercolor and oil painting. They both portray Reid’s characteristic style and flair, even though rendered in completely different media.

So if you’ve been avoiding experimenting in a different medium, give it a try. You might be pleasantly surprised that it’s not as difficult a stretch as you might think.

Santa Barbara Glow – Daily Painting

“Santa Barbara Glow” – acrylic on 140# watercolor paper
7.5 x 11 inches

I wasn’t sure I’d have time to do an oil painting today, and to photograph it, color correct it and get it sent to eBay. So it occurred to me that maybe I should try this scene in acrylic instead. I did, and I’m pleased with the outcome, and I think I’ll be adding this medium as a nice crossover between the quick-drying benefits of watercolor and the opacity and painterly qualities of oil.

Most of all I loved the ability to paint over and correct some areas without muddying, which happens in both oils and watercolor, for different reasons. You can do that in pastel, of course, but at a certain point the paper loses it’s tooth and you can’t layer any more. Why didn’t I think of doing this sooner?