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Painting Winter

Winter Swim, Northumberland..jpeg
Winter Swim, Northumberland.

Snow Landscapes

I’ve always loved the way snow can transform a landscape. Painting Winter can be tricky. When the sun is bursting through clouds laden with snow and it’s reflecting off the fallen snow, there’s a distinct clarity and sharpness to the light. It’s hard to capture this in watercolour if one tries to paint on location because usually it is too cold for the paint to dry. However, if one  spends enough time observing what is going on around through sketching in pencil and taking mental and written notes, one can use this information to great effect in the warmth of the studio. Painting Winter can be tremendous fun and very rewarding if you get it right.

Studies of Artists

This particular watercolour titled “Winter Swim” is based on studies I made over 20 years ago at a pond not too far from where I used to live as a bachelor in Kingston Park. I would sometimes jog past the pond on my early morning runs but on this occasion I was walking and had time to enjoy watching the swan feeding amongst the bullrushes. I had my camera with me, so I took a number of photographs. These were used in my studio to create a composition of contrasts. Over the years I’ve studied the work of artists who were experts at Painting Winter. Rowland Hilder was one of my favourites.


The vertical bullrushes helped to frame the swan swimming amongst the horizontal lines of the icy waters. The warm ochres and rusty reds helped to create depth in contrast to the cool crisp blues of the water and sky. Even though I used masking fluid to pick out the stems of the grasses and bullrushes, I kept the application of the fluid fresh and clean to avoid the painting looking laboured and too tight. The end result shows that Painting Winter can look both lively and yet restful and calming. It can be seen at my Studio & Gallery in Ponteland.

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