In from the cold

Almost every day Alice (the dog) and I walk through these woods near my house. On a sunny day in the winter the light in there is both warm and cool at the same time, but the views can only be accessed on foot. After the dog had her exercise, I returned to the woods with a pad and some water-soluble pencils. At -9°C I knew I wouldn’t be able to paint, but I did stand and draw for a little while. I tried using a Koi water brush but it turned to ice once it hit the paper, so I drew and only added a bit of water when I got home. Despite the cold, it is still more exciting to me to paint the changing light in the woods than to take a photo and paint a static view of the same scene.


28 Comments on “In from the cold”

  1. Dory says:

    Hi Shari,
    Love your winter sketches! I live in Vermont, so feel right at home! Would you mind telling me which water-soluble pencils you used for this?

    I’m also really enjoying your Craftsy cityscapes course and learning a lot.



    • Thanks Dory. You must be experiencing some cold days like we are here. For this I used Museum Aquarelle. They are beautiful pencils, especially when you wet them. Glad you are enjoying the class too.


      • Dory says:

        A follow-up question if I may. The Museum Aquarelle pencils have very few single pigment colors. So when you do a scene like this do you choose the pencil by what you want for a final color since you can’t mix on a palette? They are pricey, so I wondered if you feel it is good to have the whole set or do you combine them on the paper, more than one pencil for tree bark for instance. I’m not sure I’m making my question clear so a quick description of how you work with them would be very helpful!
        Again, thanks!


  2. Janice Kelly says:

    Hi Shari. Your fortitude and dedication to your art is exemplary.
    Happy to see you use coloured pencils which are often maligned.


  3. Monique says:

    First of all I love her name and your work.
    Placed my first order at Curry’s ..because I could not find journals..etc..
    I am a fan.


  4. Arti mader says:

    I’m not an artist, but I really enjoy your blog, especially today’s sketch in the woods. Just perfect!


  5. Oh you brave soul. So cold but so determined you are. I was in my woods trying to paint but it was raining way to hard. It truly was a watercolor.


  6. penincstudio says:

    Hi Sheri, have you ever heard of using vodka in your water brush? Maria from sometimes does that when she travels to places with temperatures below 0. I’ve never tried it but this winter in Alberta is making me want too. Its been in the -20’s here for a good week now.

    Your blog is such an inspiration and motivates me to get out and sketch more often. Thanks for all the great posts. I look forward to reading more in the future. I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed your Craftsy classes and re-watch them often.


    • Hi. I have heard of that. In fact I have even tried it in my water container, but never in the water brush. I guess I should have used that instead of plain old tap water. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Craftsy classes! It’s a great platform for learning because you can watch them again and again, right? I hope your cold Alberta winter gets better soon.



  7. miatagrrl says:

    You’ve got more cold-weather fortitude than I do, and it’s not nearly as cold here! I’ve been using water-soluble colored pencils a lot lately, so this sketch interests me on many levels. It’s fun to mix it up now and then, isn’t it?

    – Tina


    • I grew up here Tina, so I’m used to it. It is really fun to mix things up and I may add these to my sketch kit on a more permanent basis. I loved using them. Do you mix them with your regular watercolours?


  8. joantav says:

    Beautiful winter painting!!! You braved the cold and caught the morning light!


  9. Wow, so incredible!! Totally love this, Shari. Feels very alive and immediate, and I’m transported to your snowy woods. Thank you.


  10. Chris Rusk says:

    Hi Shari
    I like the fact that you are creating an image using non-static lighting and drawing with the eye vs from a photo (that the lens has already interpreted).

    Recently, a friend allowed me to study his collection of an artist’s drawings & paintings more closely. All of the work was executed outdoors and without the aid of photography.

    There is a quality in this artist’s paintings that takes you to the place and to that moment in time when he painted them. All of his paintings seem to be ‘living’.

    By comparison, it is easy to see that photography, or paintings that are executed from it, seems to kill that ‘life’.

    I guess that is why I like your work so much – you take me to places where I can truly experience and enjoy the view. Thanks!


    • Chris, you are very generous and thoughtful with your comments. I really appreciate it. You have summarized exactly how I feel. I occasionally paint in studio but there is just not the same immediacy or excitement when I look at a photo. Even if my painting is not successful when I’m outside, I feel that there has been an effort to translate the space around me onto the paper, whereas when I work from a photo that has already been done by the camera lens. Hope to see you one of these days.


  11. anne farmer says:

    in the UK you would be awarded a medal for services to Art in the face of extreme weather. We had a hard frost this week – it was Wednesday! By Thursday it was 5 degrees C again! there are a few idiots like me that would love to see some snow!


  12. Tonya says:

    Vodka! You can use vodka in place of water to paint in the freezing temps. Works well and you don’t need the expensive kind 🙂


  13. Ross says:

    I suggest that you stay out of the woods when the temperature is -9 degrees… try buying a better quality camera?


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