Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Winter landscape - A still life, of sorts

11x14 inches
pastel on acid-free construction paper

I'm not sure precisely all the reasons I'm drawn to such ordinary scenes like this one, but I am.  This is also the type of thing that I would love to have painted on location, but given that this was in about 15" of snow and at least 1/2 mile down the road to Haviland Lake, which was closed to vehicle traffic, that wasn't happening.  Perhaps one of these days, I'll snowshoe in to paint on location, but not for this.

The reference photo for this was taken on Christmas day, while I was out snowshoeing.  It was a bright, sunny day with no wind.  Just perfect.  The low angle of the sun at this time of the year and mid-afternoon light of winter produces the most amazing shadows.

Here are a few other photos from the day, which was a loop including roads and a trail:

Beautiful crystals of ice form on a small creek along the trail

Creek reflections

Cattails along the edge of Haviland Lake

Sweeping tree shadows across the frozen lake

This Red Squirrel [Tamiasciurus hudsonicus] was extremely put out by my presence.    He is giving me the stink eye from high up in a Ponderosa pine 25 feet away - hilarious!


  1. I'm still fascinated by how a little bit of warm color in the right spot(s) can dominate a cool scene. Well done!

  2. Thanks Dan - I agree. I think this is probably one of the big reasons I am so into painting winter landscapes: 1) little or no green; 2) warm and cool palette that is or close to compliments.

    Plus, it's just great fun to work all those shades of blue into the shadow colors!

  3. Fabulous pastel scene. I enjoy painting from photos because of the color effects that sometimes present itself. The naked eye does not always pick them up. Your photos are just stunning, cannot wait to see what you do with them!

  4. Beautiful photos, and I love the pastel! We had a brown Christmas. The snow is so pretty---I just hate driving in it.

  5. Thanks Carol. It's funny - for some situations, my photos don't do a good job of capturing color nuances in life [I know this when I've taken a reference photo of a place I was painting on location]. However, I've never had that problem when taking winter photos in snow - they all do a very good job of accurately capturing the local color, including subtle ones. Shooting RAW also helps.

    Thanks so much, LeAnn. I don't care for driving in snow, either [which is the reason I spent Xmas here instead of in Taos w/ my sister], but at least CO is very good about keeping its highways clear, so it's usually not an issue.

  6. Beautiful! I'm jealous that you have snow to photograph an paint, over on the east coast (at least in MA) it feels like spring :/

  7. Boy, I haven't been visiting in a while and I have sure missed some great work you're doing! I absolutely love these last two pastels. Great work.

  8. Hi Jill, thanks - yes, I have to say it is nice to have snowy landscapes within a short drive of town (snow has all but melted in town, save for the north slopes of the hills and such). I had no idea it was so mild in your area; when I lived in CT, the winters were so bitter and bone-chillingly cold!

    Hey Susan - nice to hear from you! I just saw your sunset "vacation" post - luck you to be by the beach. Thanks much for the comments - these latest paintings have been far and few between, but at least they've turned out better than I expected.

  9. Lovely painting Sonya! I love the blue shadows of winter, too.

    Great photos also. My husband and kids went north in search of snow today - can't believe how little we have had here in MA!

  10. Wonderful painting Sonya. I especially like the way you draped the grasses over the fence.

  11. Hi Debbie - thanks! You guys are really getting some odd winter weather there, aren't you? I'm sure, though, that the New England winter weather will arrive at some point...hopefully, not in March, though!

    Thanks so much, Ruth. I think it is the grasses that really caught my eye when I saw this IRL, and they add some contrasting color and texture to the otherwise smooth snow. I am not sure I had ever considered that old dried up grass could ever add to a scene - go figure!

  12. Love the painting and photos. Gee, I haven't seen winter like that in many years it seems. Beautiful!

  13. Thanks, Liz! Yeah, winters are vastly different here than they are/were in Tucson and southern AZ. Thankfully, most of the snow is to the north and not covering the town - that would get old really fast.

    Happy New Year to you and Mike!

  14. I'm with you, Sonya; these types of scenes appeal to me as well. I think I'm attracted to the simpler palette that winter provides - I love all the various shades of tan and blue.

    It finally snowed again here. It makes everything so beautiful.

  15. Thanks Gabrielle - the elimination of landscape detail and a simpler palette are definitely what appeal to me about winter as well.

    Happy New Year!

  16. It's wonderful... Those long blue shadows and whispers of orange grass are sooo gorgeous. You have such a great eye for color and composition!! I look forward to seeing more of your great art this year, Happy New Year to your and yours Sonya!

  17. Love the new pastel piece Sonya, it has a very chilly feeling, but a peaceful one too. I love that. :)) And look at that squirrel!! lol. :) Stinkeye from 25 ft away, ha!!

    Also that frost on the ground photo is just awesome.

  18. Diane, thank you so much for the sweet comments and huge compliments! Being an artist is a solo activity for the most part, and sometimes, we often wonder if we are "getting it right", so to speak. Receiving input from such a talented artist such as yourself means a lot.

    Hi Crystal - thanks so much for your kind remarks! I love the peacefulness that winter brings to the land, and I'm glad that came across in this painting.

    I'm glad you got a chuckle from the squirrel photo; he continued to voice his displeasure at my presence while I shot the photo of him, and of course it made me laugh even harder.

    Happy New year and wishes for a wonderful, art-filled year to both of you wonderful ladies :)!

  19. Beautiful work in all your media . . . love the photo of the rocks in water . . . so complex.

  20. Hi Lorraine - thank you so much for your visit and kind comments. Plus, it allowed me to visit and follow your blog. Cheers!


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