Monday, December 22, 2008

Ho-ho-holy smokes, it's cold!

December deck. Oil on panel, 4x8, $75

It snowed. It snowed, and it snowed and it snowed, and then it snowed more. It was like being in Maine! And it still looks like Maine. Very hard to place this big white yard as being in Connecticut.

Saturday morning, I was out in the yard at dawn, painting. I was dressed for it, too. I had my big old Maine snowboots on, the kind Mainers wear for snowmobiling. I had my flannel-lined jeans on. I had a T-shirt, a turtleneck sweater, a scarf and a parka. I had a hat and gloves.

Of course, within minutes, I was steaming and sweating. Off with the gloves! Off with the hat! Off with the scarf! I set up the easel, stuck my travel mug in the snow and began to paint.

And a bunch of things happened, nearly all at once. First, I realized that the panel I was painting on was covered, in places, by a thin, thin sheet of ice. The heat and moisture of the house had condensed and then frozen. I scraped the ice off with my fingernails and kept painting.

Then it started to snow. Just a flurry, mind you, but the snow got into the paint. And the paint, I realized, had, well, not frozen, exactly, but sort of frozen. It had thickened, coagulated until it was the consistency of mud, or thick cake batter. My paint had grown cold enough enough and viscous enough that, when the snow dropped into it, the flakes remained crystalline. The paint looked, for all the world, like it had sand in it.

Yikes! What to do? What to do? I'd been looking forward to this for weeks, to this painting with oils in the snow. Last winter, I stayed with pastels. This was all new!

And so I decided, the only thing to do was, well - paint.

I stayed out in the yard and made two paintings. It was incredibly beautiful out there. It was silent, the way it's only silent in a big, muffling snowstorm. There was no wind. The snow fell straight down, light as dust. Cardinals flashed onto the snow-lined tree limbs. Under the fir trees, the shadows turned blue.

I'd wanted to spend the day painting outside. But in the end, I couldn't. The longer I stayed, the more unruly the paint became. And honestly, after three hours, I got cold. So I came in, and painted one more piece - while I sat, warm and toasty, in the kitchen. It's the painting at the top of this blog, the porch furniture piled so incongruously with snow. And while I usually don't say this, the painting is far more interesting than my photo makes it appear. Just FYI.

A couple small notes... With an hour-plus left in the auction time, my snow painting on eBay has climbed to $38. I'm not sure how I feel about this. Murad Sayen, a friend and a wonderful painter from Maine (I bet he has two pairs of those boots), told me to be humble when I price my work. I've tried to be... I'm not sure I'm this humble, though!

Still, you have to start somewhere, especially on eBay. And so the experiment continues.

Second, I know my paintings in this blog get enormous when you click on them. I've resized today's and Friday's in photoshop, and they should fit easily on the screen (today's, I sized at 7 inches across) - but they don't. Anyone who can help me fix this problem, I'd sure appreciate it!

Many thanks for reading! And best wishes to you all.

For more paintings, see

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