Here’s a painting I experimented with a bit, both in format and with paper stock. Last week I was driving towards Hudson on the road that runs along the lake. It was such a brutally cold day — made worse by the frigid squalls blowing across the field — that I couldn’t have painted in my car. In fact, it was almost too cold to step outside to take a reference photo, but I did it anyway.

When I got back to my studio I thawed out my hands, and then I painted the scene on the remaining half sheet (15″ x 22″) of Schut Noblesse paper that I had. This is a paper that I find a bit too smooth (you can read out it here) but thought it might work for the snow shadows in this scene. When the painting was done, I found it a bit flat and decided to try it again.


For the second try I used a full sheet (22″ x 30″) of Arches rough paper, which is not something I use very often, but I was hoping to get more texture and granulation than on the previous version. When the painting was done I stood back to have a look and realized just how much blue I had used, which I guess conveys well how cold I felt standing out on that road with the wind whipping around me as I looked at the scene.




45 Comments on “Woodpile”

  1. Jane Hannah says:

    Hi Shari — this is magnificent! And I know this wood pile -)


  2. Deb Hume says:

    I love the comparison and I love the Arches final result! Beautiful!


  3. Soni McFarland says:

    We don’t want our favorite Teach getting frostbite !!¡! Take notice when in the passion & count toes, pinkies & nose

    Well done – you need a Brandy flask or a St Bernard but Alice would be jealous


    • Good advice Soni. Almost lost a few fingers just to take a photo. It’s hard enough walking Alice this week. Neither of us like going out there but it is going to warm up tomorrow.


  4. Judy Sopher says:

    Not sure which I like better but they are both nice. You do such great skies–which I knew from your Craftsy course. I like a smoother paper and dislike rough-just the opposite. In fact I like the Robert Bateman recycled sketchbook paper–I know many don’t. Do you know of a similar paper? It is hard to find Bateman sketchbooks here.


    • HI Judy, I like the Bateman book for drawing, but I have never tried using wash on it. If you like smoother paper, have you tried any of the Stillman & Birn books. They are great for both drawing and watercolour. My favourites are the Zeta for drawing and the Beta for light washes. Both are quite smooth so you would probably like them. Don’t know how close they are the to Bateman book, but they are really nice.


  5. Birte says:

    I love the Arches final painting. Looks much clearer and “colder”. Another great work, thanks for sharing,


  6. Sue says:

    I do actually feel the cold on the second one. You always make the most mundane spectacular.
    Nice work.


  7. Jordan Dumer says:

    Wow. Beautiful. Lover the Watercolor.


  8. Bernadette says:

    Thanks for sharing both paintings of the same scene. You am such a master at your craft. From my amateur eye, both are exceptionally done but your explanation along with demonstration help me to understand and “see” more clearly how a change in color and paper can make a difference. I appreciate you taking the time to help us to appreciate these considerations in your work and in ours.


    • Thanks for your comments Bernadette. Writing about the process also helps me when I get around to teaching workshops in the summer, writing articles, etc. It’s a bonus for me to hear that you appreciate it.


    • Suzanne says:

      Bernadette, your comment is exactly how I feel but would not be able to express so succinctly. And so ditto Bernadette’s comment to you Shari 😊


  9. Annie B. says:

    Really beautiful, Shari! I learn so much from your posts and you are so generous with sharing your experiences and knowledge. Thank you for your important contributions to the art community!


  10. Lee Kline says:

    The second one n Arches speaks to me. Very robust.


  11. Alison says:

    Most instructive to see the two. I can feel the chill in #2.


  12. rosjenke says:

    Gosh Shari, you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing and all your explanations. Awesome paintings, both of them, and I like to look at how you varied them from the same ref.


  13. dianegklock says:

    Love these Shari and seeing the difference between the two papers . I tend to stick with one paper but do see the difference in my sketchbooks . Thanks for the push to try some different watercolor paper as well . This scene reminds me of Presque Isle Maine where we lived for a few years , frigid indeed.


  14. andre savard. says:

    Defintely the second has more character the darker clouds and colder snow shadows.
    It’s more alive.
    I love it.


  15. Beautiful comparison! Thanks for showing both. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who paints, then does the same scene again, etc. [On my 7th version of a composition this week]. It’s instructive to do and then to see side by side.


  16. PJ Cook says:

    What immediately stuck me was the log pile had more snow on it and the contrast against the buildings gave greater impact in the second Arches painting. Thanks for sharing!


  17. Patricia Wafer says:

    Nice to see 2 versions and the Arches one is especially wonderful. Great sky!!! The clouds look like they are in motion.


  18. Love the woodpile! The second painting on the Arches has such wonderful shadows and shading on the snow. Lovely!!!


  19. Phil Eversman says:

    Number 2 certainly looks much crisper and alive, just as landscape often does when the air is very cold and free of moisture. The detail stands out more. It may look like there is more blue to you, but the red also looks redder. It seems that the snow got deeper too.


  20. jdawgswords says:

    great pics…both


  21. holmar58 says:

    Beautiful paintings Shari… I especially love your winter scenes!


  22. janice kelly says:

    Hi Sandra. If the bottom pic is the one completed on Arches paper – it is sharper in detail.
    Your comments on papers or any supplies are extremely helpful. Thank you for your ongoing inspiration to us all.


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