I’m enjoying the winter watercolors I’ve been doing this month. Each one I do gives me a chance to try new things “on my own”. Sure, I’ve stumbled in places and have looked for information and instruction, but overall I’ve adopted a much more “hands on” learning process. I love finding my own way through each “winter wilderness” landscape I’ve painted.
This morning as I got my watercolor supplies out and searched for a good reference photo, I noticed how many winter scenes are painted from the same palette — soft pinks, gentle blues, touches of gray. Those colors can accurately depict the ice and snow of winter. They can also be used to add a touch of “warmth” to a very cold-looking landscape.
But, frankly, I was tired of pink and blue. I wanted to do something different today. So, after wetting my watercolor paper, I reached for yellows and oranges to create my skies. Before this, I had cropped a scene from a reference photo and I’d thought a bit about how to approach it. Next, I’d lightly sketched in the essential elements of the scene.
One of my intentions with this painting was to use a bit more pigment in my initial wash so that the golden yellow hues wouldn’t fade away once the paper dried. I think I succeeded there. I went on to brush in the distant background trees using black — a bit of a “no no” in watercolor, but I did it anyway — and I loved watching the color blossom and bloom into the sky. I liked the contrast.
From that point on, I experimented. I was, by the way, using my Japanese gansai today instead of the more transparent “western” watercolors. I played with my Crayola watercolor pencils and also with the “Mermaid Markers” to draw and shade the trees and to add shadows.
I can’t really say exactly what I did or how I did it because I was “playing around” at creating different effects. I used a tiny brush to add some “stick-like” details in the distance, and I put a few streaks of color here and there. To give the scene a unified look, I used more of my yellows and oranges both at the horizon line and at the base of the trees.
Another thing I did was to think about a focal point. I consider the area beneath the trees to be the point that catches a viewer’s eye. From there, I hope, a viewer will follow the trees upward and outward to the right, then go to the distant tree line, sweeping through the entire painting.
Overall, I was pleased with what I created. I do like the effects I’m getting by using both watercolor and watercolor pencils together. Adding touches from the markers gives me even more possibilities.
It was fun to play with these colors — which are much more reminiscent of autumn and Halloween than of winter. I think the different colors are a bit unexpected for a winter scene, and that, I think, makes this painting stand out a bit. Maybe it’s really more of an “early snowfall scene” while the autumn colors are still around.
Regardless of whether it’s winter or autumn, I do like the painting. I hope you like it too. And I hope you’ll join with me today to celebrate the beauty of all the seasons, especially all the different colors of nature in spring, summer, autumn, and winter.