Most years, around about September or October, I start thinking that maybe I should do a seasonal painting of some description that I can print up as Christmas cards. This is partly to save a fortune on cards, and partly because I don’t produce any prints to sell of my paintings, but think that a little supply of Christmas cards for my personal use would come in quite handy, and would be a good exercise for me to undertake.
What usually holds me back is a complete lack of my own reference material. We haven’t had much snow in Brighton for a few years now, and nothing that I’ve been able to get out and photograph. Fortunately, we’ve been getting a supply of Christmas cards designed by our daughter from school so it’s rather taken the pressure off me having to do anything!
I was, however, rooting through an old box of Christmas cards and I came across one of my favourite watercolour snow scenes. It’s more of a tinted sketch than a pure watercolour but there’s something about it that I really like. I think it conveys a spontaneous simplicity that is really joyful
As I’ve been off my painting a little of late, I thought it would be a nice little exercise to get my brushes wet and to do a quick interpretation of this scene. One great thing about this was that it only took a few minutes to sketch this out!
I’ve struggled to get a decent photo of this sketch but this is the best that I’ve managed to take. I usually paint more directly than this but on this occasion, I really enjoyed building this up with a number of really thin glazes.
The first wash was a cool blue-grey, made up from cerulean blue and light red which I washed all over the ground and distant hills. Then I turned my board upside down and put in a pale yellow wash of raw sienna and transparent yellow, into which I dropped in a pale mix of quinacridone magenta, cadmium red and cadmium orange along the horizon line, allowing it to run into the yellow to create a graduated wash.
Once this was dry, the pale grey-blue wash over the land looked a little ‘odd’ – so I glazed over it with a really pale yellow wash, the same as I’d used on the sky, and this seemed to bring a bit more unity to it.
Next, I just started loosely dropping in the other tints, working from the distance to the foreground but in no particular order. I was mainly conscious of trying to keep it light, of touch and tone, and not to overwork anything. At this point I thought that the contrast between the sky and the land was a little weak, so I turned the board upside down again and put in another graduated wash, only this time with a little more Turners yellow to strengthen the tone a little more.
Here’s to some snow in early 2019 so that I can try to get some decent photographs together. Who knows, next year could be the year of my long awaited Christmas card! In the meantime, I’d like to take this opportunity to wish you all a fabulous festive season and a very merry Christmas.