Through the glass

Outdoor painting season is over. There’s snow on the ground and the temperature on the thermometer is way under the zero mark. So why would I think that I could paint a watercolour outside? Denial of winter perhaps? Eternal optimism? Yesterday I packed up my easel and set it up in the snow, in the woods near my house. I even added some vodka to my water bottle to prevent freezing. Had I thought about it a little bit longer I would have realized that at -9C painting outside would be impossible. No need to describe what happened to the paint and water mix on my palette. You can probably imagine. Today I sketched from the warmth of a window view at school, baseboard heater warming my feet.


17 Comments on “Through the glass”

  1. kari says:

    The horitantal layers overlaid with darker vertical trees makes for a beautifully balanced composition here!


  2. J Raines says:

    One of my teachers here paints in the snow. She says to put glycerine in the water.



  3. Ross says:

    Great sketch. But, as someone who is experienced at painting in the cold, my advice to you is…
    Toughen up Buttercup. Get back out in the snow. : )


    • It was equipment malfunction Ross, not operator weakness. I had on warm boots and could have stayed out there longer but the paint turned to sand in the palette. I should have taken a photo of it. And as soon as I came into the house the painting starting thawing and all the washes ran down the paper. It was really quite comical.


  4. I feel your struggle– I’ve tried painting outside in freezing temps and it is not fun, but I miss the exploration and inspiration that comes from being out. I love the way you paint trees. Can you tell me what brush(es) you’re using for them?


    • Thanks so much Jean. I agree, I much prefer to be outside than in, even if “in” is my car.
      For these trees I used the Scroggy brushes from Cheap Joes. They are great for painting the branches. For the trunks I used a 1/2″ flat.


  5. cathy mcauliffe says:

    Probably when it gets that cold you should put the Vodka to better use!


  6. anne farmer says:

    That is beautiful! Hope you didn’t waste the vodka!


  7. Les says:

    I like that sky a lot. Being in California, I’ve rarely painted in very cold weather. Once I painted in November when it was 55 F outside — a really fair weather painter.


  8. That’s a lovely sketch. I’m impressed that you tried outside–I lose the feeling in my fingers very easily so no go for me–and it’s been very hard to paint this winter–it’s been so gray, that there’s not enough light through a s. facing window…..gah!


    • I don’t know where you are located but in Montreal it seems like it’s been gray for weeks. Ugh.
      I wanted to try painting outside even if it wasn’t successful. I had to go through the exercise to see if it could be done and now we know!


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