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February 9th- sketching in snow showers

I managed some plein air watercolour painting this morning. It is always very rewarding to work outside in snow; it often leads to unexpected, interesting and if I’m lucky beautiful results. I don’t struggle to sit in cold conditions as I am so absorbed in the painting and landscape before me. The palette and water laden brushes freeze solid, but the trusty Stanley flask filled with warm water contends with this problem.

I painted a now familiar scene by the Holbeck near Gilling East. The last year has seen me return to same or similar views again and again. I am so inspired by snow and today’s skies were magnificent as showers rolled in from the North Sea, each delivering it’s own unique brand of snowflakes. I decided not to add any wildlife to the scene as I saw very little on this morning’s circuit. I wanted the picture to reflect the quietness of the snow covered landscape. The falling flakes left soft marks where they settled on the sky wash.

I am often asked why I don’t always include a bird or other animal in my landscapes and some people seem to expect it. But much of the time I walk I am not seeing wildlife and I like to invite the viewer to imagine what might be there; whilst sketching this morning there were the occasional calls of redwings and fieldfares hurrying across the sky in their search for food and the calls of a pair of marsh tits feeding in the beck-side trees. When I do paint an animal in a landscape I like to portray it as it might be seen while I walk, often this means it is well camouflaged. A few years ago I sold a picture of the North Norfolk Coast where the buyers only spotted the shorelarks on the strandline after they had hung the picture at home!

Frozen painting conditions
Snow starting to fall on the sky wash
The finished field painting
Another study of the same scene painted in the studio immediately on return

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