Wednesday, December 31, 2008
New Years Eve Farm 2008 -8˙F!
"New Years Eve Farm -8˙F!" - oil - 8x10 - © Marc R. Hanson '08
Compared to my Christmas Eve painting... today was a real treat even though it was a lot, lot colder.... -8˙F to start and up to -4˙F when finished.
It was definitely a chilly one today... but with sun and very little wind. So painting in -8˙F weather was surprisingly tolerable. I've noticed that when painting in temperatures as low as this that there are a few things that make it just plain hard to want to do it very often.
One is that in order to get the paint fluid enough to work with, you need to break it down with thinner. Because of the temperature, it becomes so stiff that a bristle brush won't pull it off of it's pile and into the palette mixing surface. Thinning it down makes it easier to work with. Even a knife doesn't do the mixing trick. The resulting problem with this is (I hope you don't mind the 'experience' related issues here....) that the paint is very hard to control. Especially hard to control is the way it comes off of the brush.
For instance... you might be expecting to paint a little spot of color, and since you've already done that a hundred or a thousand times before (albeit in warm weather), you expect it to do just that! Well, it cannot be expected to do the same thing in really cold weather. Instead of a little spot you end up with a big blob. The paint acts so differently that it's unpredictable... and frustrating.
A lot of 'fixing' things is the result. After an hour or so of frigid weather, fixing things is less attractive, getting the heck out of the cold and into the warmth is the issue at hand.
That said, the color on days like this can be hard to resist. It may seem that my compositional choices are pretty simple in these. They are, but out of necessity. I don't spend a lot of time wandering around off the main path. When everything is covered in snow and ice and it's this cold, it's safest just to find an 'out of danger', wide spot to paint from. That usually means a gravel road alongside one of these farms. I try to look for diagonal elements to lead into the paintings. But there seems to be a lack of that sort of thing when we have a fair amount of snow cover. Even weed patches are covered with snow now and leave very little to work with.
I like these old farmsteads. You wonder how they make it on such a small operation. Usually a little farmhouse with a half dozen outbuildings, all seemingly in disrepair? So in all reality, these are 'experiential' studies. Just painted to try to understand the effect of a time and place on color, texture and other visual relationships that cannot be retained on a memory card.
A safe, sound and Happy New Year to all!!!