Monday, 21 January 2013

Snowy weekend in Stony Stratford

I haven't posted for a while so it seems a good time having been out painting for most of the weekend in the snow! We've had a good thick covering here in Stony Stratford over the last couple of days. Yesterday (Saturday) I was able to get out into the town and decided to head for Mill Lane which is quite an 'unspoilt', old fashioned Victoria/Edwardian street that doesn't get too busy as it's a cul-de-sac. One passer by told me they're going to build some modern flats/houses just to the left of where I was standing so it's nice to paint it before all the construction work starts!


I was keen to get the most out of the day so headed out at around 8:15am with Mill Lane in mind. After some to-ing and fro-ing I pitched up on the pavement and got stuck in, mapping the basic shapes in charcoal on a toned board. I massed in the main tones of the buildings (and everything else that didn't have much white in) and then worked on the values of the snow/sky. I did it that way round as I didn't generally want to be working the darks into the light tones. The distinctive colours of the buildings registered quite nicely against the snow and I enjoyed tonal punch that the figures provided.


'Morning snow, Mill Lane, Stony Stratford' - 11x14in, oil on board

A lady pulling a child on a sledge came past me on the left but I added her on the right to create a bit of interest. The mini cooper was fun to put in, as was the slushy tracks in the road. As I was painting at the start I got snow on the palette as I didn't have an umbrella. This resulted in what seemed like big lumps of grit in my mixes! I've not had that happen before but thankfully it got easier as I worked with more paint.

See the gritty lumps of crystalised paint/snow

End of session and time for a hot drink!

I found it useful to scrape the snow from under my feet before starting. Otherwise, it gets compacted underfoot and quickly becomes very slippy. One very nice elderly lady seemed most concerned I would get too cold and strongly advised me to paint from inside instead. I tried to explain the issues with working from photos compared to studying it with your own eyes but she wasn't having any of it :)

After some lunchtime soup I ventured out for the afternoon session. I thought it would be nice to head for the country so I strolled off to Passenham but it seemed rather bleak and felt much colder. I also got followed by some cattle that were feeding and suddenly noticed a couple of the bigger ones had horns and so made an executive decision to ditch the country theme and head back to town. I trudged back to Stony (half a mile or so) and the relative comfort of Mill Lane, this time from the other end. I did a little study up there at the end of last year when there was some slush around but wanted to have a better crack at it in a landscape format. Having spent a few minutes deliberating the composition I whipped out another 11x14 and got stuck in. I knew the light would start to fade as the afternoon went on so there was no time to hang about.


'Winter stroll, Mill Lane, Stony Stratford' - 11x14in, oil on board


As you can see from the photo, I pulled the tree across to the left a bit in order to balance the composition. The colours/values seem much darker in the photo and shows how tricky it would be (for me anyway) to paint such a subject without being in front of it.

I was pretty whacked after this! Painting outdoors in the snow all day is quite physically taxing, even if you're well wrapped up. Maybe I could wrap up better. I certainly need two pairs of thick thermal socks and just about got by with my fingerless gloves (that have flip to mitten flaps) and thin liner gloves that have studded rubber grips on the palms and fingers. Great fun though! It's like being on a painting trip, everything looks so different. I'll post up today's effort later but it was practically blizzard like out in the fields which made for an 'interesting' session!

14 comments:

  1. Brilliant work! I love the red brickwork against the snow colours, and the fabulous simplicity of the way you've treated the parked cars. A wise move to get those few figures in which adds so much life and vitality. Look forward to seeing your countryside in a blizzard!

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  2. Thanks Haidee. It was nice to paint in the town and capture a bit of its character. After you'd mentioned Christmas cards of your paintings it got me thinking :)

    Will put the blizzard work up once I can get it photographed (and everything's dried out!). Note to self...only paint in a blizzard if you have a mobile tent.

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  3. David these are really great. I love the colors you used. You paint snow very well. In fact, I think I judge all snow paintings against the one you did with the red door.

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  4. Thanks Douglas :) I was tempted to have another go at the scene with the red door but the cold swirling winds steered me back towards town this time! Hope all is well over the pond.

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  5. Cracking good work David, as ever - love the muted, flat tones of the sky and snow, just like today here, and the snow tracks. Am itching to get out myself, but got to get all this damned decorating done before the carpets arrive on Friday. Look forward to the blizzard effort!

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    1. Thanks Peter. The grey, flat light makes for some nice muted/subtle effects. No fast moving shadows to worry about :) Hope you can get released from the decorating before the snow melts! Actually, I think it'll be here until the weekend at least...unless we get a blast of warm air coming in.

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  6. Good to see that you haven't lost anything by the enforced 'rest' of the Christmas break. I am always fascinated (following you around as I do!) how you make brilliant paintings out of such material - a real 'Trevor Chamberlain' sensibility.

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    1. Thanks Tim :) That's a great compliment...you know I love Trevor's work! If I don't paint for a while outdoors I get restless these days....an itch that regularly needs scratching! Hope you catch some snow scenes yourself. You've got better hills and trees round your way :)

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  7. Lovely work David. I always love your people and cars and you painted the snow beautifully.

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    1. Thanks Valerie:) I try to keep them in harmony with the overall subject, generally nothing too overstated...simple shapes and tones. Managed one snow little study in the sun before it melted and will post it up when it's photographed.

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  8. All brilliant snow paintings David, well done again. All the best.
    Vic.

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    1. Thanks Vic. Hoping we get another flurry before Spring sets in :)

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  9. Like the "Winter Stroll" nice depth and color.

    ~Randall

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    1. Thanks Randall. The colours showed up nicely against the snow, even though it was really overcast.

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