Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Winter landscape - an urban nocturne, pastel

And now for something really different:  a bunch of man-made things, after dark...

Snowfall After Sunset
14x11 inches, pastel on black construction paper
© S.Johnson
So, the other night, as I was working on my last post, I looked out of my window, and saw this.  It was just after sunset, and it was still snowing.  The streetlight was casting the most amazing light on the freshly fallen snow and the still-falling snow was catching the light of the street lamp in an almost dreamy glow.

For whatever reason, I found it amazing, and got out my camera to get some quick reference photos.  I've always liked the house across the street (it's two, actually) with its very cool design and double pointed roofs.

Okay, you can tell I don't paint buildings that often, and I usually find telephone poles and lines to be a bit of a visual blight on the landscape.  But, this was different.

I made a few adjustments to the composition, but the fire hydrant, well, it had to stay.  Not sure why, but it needs to be there.  What you won't see, OTOH, are any hidden initials on the house or little curly wisps of smoke coming from the chimneys, although you can tell the neighbor peeps are probably home.  If you have no idea what I'm talking about, it's probably just as well.

And, for giggles and grins, here's the reference photo I used.  Not to showcase how much my house is off from the photo, or how I botched the perspective of the road, but to show that yes, even a really horrible photo (I call these "crapshots") can be used for a painting, so don't be quick to toss out the blurry ones if they otherwise contain information you can use:


  1. I agree that crap shots make the pastel process easier - no pesky details!

    This is a wonderful addition to your winters. Very inspiring!

  2. Hi Casey - yes, that: destracting details are gone. Thank you for your comment on this piece; it's sort of a different style than I usually do, partially because of the subject and partially because of the surface I used.
    Our wireless is out, so this is the first chance I've had to get online all day, and only through Wayne's laptop...grr!

  3. This is a fun change of pace, and I like it. I also think the utility pole and fire hydrant play important roles, and the decision to leave them in was good.

  4. Thanks Dan. A fun change of pace is exactly what I thought of it as well. It was truly a spontaneous decision, because I've looked out that window hundreds and hundreds of times and have never felt I wanted to paint it until that moment when all those elements fell into place the way they did.

    Oh yeah...another conscious decision I made was to make the 3 chimneys all different in terms of height, color and size. A small thing, but just to show I'm no slave to a photo ;).

  5. I really love this one, Sonya. It has such a nice feel to it. Great work!

  6. Thanks so much, Darla! It was something different and fun to do :).

  7. A departure for you - but it's lovely! Wonderful "glow".


Your thoughtful comments add value to this blog - thank you so much for taking the time to leave them!

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