Winter and Art

"Snow Supper", oil on canvas board, 8" x 10"

“Snow Supper”, oil on canvas board, 8″ x 10″

I like painting outside in almost any weather. Spring, summer, fall and even some winter days. I have all the right outer wear and gear, my paints can handle the cold, and I have been known to go out painting in February along a frozen river. But dark snowy late afternoons in winter when the temperatures are dropping into the single digits are not the best time for me to do Plein Air painting.

My friends still have to feed their equines and I’m glad to have a photo of this crew having their supper. Stormy the mini horse, Blue Barney the donkey and Sooner the horse were all tucking into their hay despite a snow storm covering their thick fur with snow. They are pretty tough critters and beautiful as well! I’m glad I got to paint this scene.

In order to prepare for winter days where I can’t go outside, I’ve done a number of studies. I have gone en Plein Air painting earlier in the year and have a stack of little field studies or “notes” as I call them. These small paintings help me remember the light, value and color a photograph doesn’t share. They remind me of how the day was hot and humid with birds calling and bugs flying into the wet paint. What the light felt like and the way the air smelled. In short, all the things I love about being outside painting.  Along with some good photos, I can construct larger studio works from these notes.

"Elk Hay", oil on canvas, 18" x 24"

“Elk Hay”, oil on canvas, 18″ x 24″

“Elk Hay” is a prime example of a scene in my neighbor’s field where he has stacked old hay that is smoldering apart. Its best use so far is as a model for me! The farmer doesn’t even cover it or put fence panels around it but lets the elk and deer rip it apart. I painted a small field study and took some photos of this scene during the fall. Inside in the studio I recently painted this larger canvas of the haystack.

For me, winter is a good time for getting outside and doing some plein air painting. And its a great time for making art in the studio!

Maintaining a clean environment in the studio

Its important to maintain a clean environment in the studio. This keeps anything that could make you sick, like dust from some paint chemical or whatnot, from floating around on the air and getting inhaled.

You shouldn’t eat or drink in the studio. But most artists don’t follow that rule. At least put your tea mug on a different table than your brush cleaning solvent. And really, don’t eat in the studio. You could ingest toxins or get grease or crumbs on your artwork.

And the BIG ONE. Pet fur!  Pets should not be in the studio.

Tova, Enzo & Ruby

Tova, Enzo & Ruby

So after taking a look at my “helpers” who are always underfoot in the studio, you can consider me a hypocrite considering studio cleanliness. Yep, dog fur is everywhere. In my paints, solvents, on the painting, in my tea mug, in the corners and under foot. As a result, I have a special tool I use exclusively when this becomes a problem. So its all good. More or less.

Helpful hair removal tool

Helpful hair removal tool

If you ever get one of my paintings, chances are there is at least one dog fur somewhere on it. I like to think it will bring you good luck.