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!!!


jeff f said...

Another nice one Marc.
Happy New Year!

What I find interesting is how the color of the sky changes when it gets the temperature drops below 0.

Do you use Cerulean or Manganese Blue
for sky's?

Marc R. Hanson said...

Happy New Year to you too Jeff!

You're so right. When it gets (there is probably a 'temperature , combination humidity level equation to this) cold enough, the moisture that forms as minute ice crystals in the atmosphere really does affect the light and the color of the light.

The difference in clarity of color between the Christmas Eve painting and this one is huge. I think that on Christmas Eve I'd bet that the dew point and temp were closer together compared today. CE looked almost humid, today was very dry.

I have used Cerulean, Cobalt, Manganese, Kings blue, thalo, a bunch of blues.

The only one that I used in this painting and in most of my paintings in the last few years is Ultramarine deep. I still put out Cobalt but rarely, rarely dip into it.

Ultramarine is such a versatile blue that can be slightly altered with a red or yellow that I find almost no need for the other blues.

In this sky I used almost pure ultramarine and white in the upper sky area, Ult Bl and Viridian in the mid sky and then added a little bit of Cad lemon and a spec of permanent red at the horizon.

The actual painting is slightly more 'yellow' in all areas than it looks here. Just slightly. You can see more warmth (in the hue of yellow) in the lower sky and in the side of the house. The photo shows it slightly more red.

Thanks again Jeff.

Jeremy Elder said...

The nice thing is that you and everyone else can appreciate the finished painting from a warmer location.

Solvay said...

Those trees are so gentle - the near, the far, and the mid, all. And, the snow blue reflecting the sky in its unbroken surface, just like still water is supposed to do, even in flake form...

There's something sad about that fading house - like something about "home" is falling into disuse in our's a sad and faraway kind of image, this painting.

Happy New Year, anyway.
: )

Tartarus said...

Happy New Year Marc. Excellent New Year's painting. While I set around thinking about painting you are painting at 8 below! I hope to get another chance to paint with you soon. Take care.

Jeff Risner, OPAS

Keith said...

Happy New Year Marc. Another little gem. I take my hat off to you and indeed to anybody venturing out to paint in temperatures as low as those. For my part I am not so hardy and tend to sit by the fire watching painting videos on such days (more fool me).

Carol Schiff Studio said...

I liked your Christmas Eve painting, but I find your New Years Eve painting stunning! Reminds me of cold mornings in North Dakota. Thank God I live in Florida now.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Jeremy... Jeff... Keith...Carol....

Painting in this kind of weather isn't anything more than trying to satisfy the need to paint outside... and not having too many other options to fulfill the 'need' with. I am not one to torture myself just to paint, it's not a badge of honor believe me. It's really a pain in the you know what. :-)

For instance, today it's a full 29˙degrees warmer, +21˙F. But the wind is at around 15kts or so making the windchill about +8F. It's cloudy too.

I'd much prefer what I painted in yesterday to the weather today. There is moisture in the air, snow is forecast, making a combination that goes right through all of the clothing making it a very chilly experience.

Happy New Year!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Solveg... Here's the thing... The family (swing set and playground equipment all around the yard) has land and seems to enjoy living there.

I'd be thrilled to own the fields, forest and peace that they probably enjoy being in this location.

I agree that many of these little outposts, probably old homesteads in many cases, have that melancholy feeling to them. They seem other worldly. Up here however, they're common and to me real treasures amidst the 'new' and 'sameness' that is seen 30-45 minutes south of here, closer to the Twin's.

Thanks, Happy New Year.

Solvay said...

Yes, I totally agree - fields, forest........treasures. I would love it, myself. Seems very few do, though.......maybe that's the sad thing. And, yes, the 1/2-to-3-acre substitute with paper-thin shoddy house is NOT a treasure - seems people have given up the REAL treasure for a false front.

Anyway, again, even if you don't own fields and forests yourself, you live in a wondrous place, and your paintings of fields and forests are beautiful. I was trying to say those things in my previous note perhaps this one says it better. I hope.

And, I live in a "new" because I couldn't afford an old treasure. I tried.

Bob Lafond said...

Marc, I found your site a while back. I admire your work very much, and your courage to work outdoors in the cold. Today I took a walk in the Massachusetts countryside where the temperature is about 5 degrees F. Working fast because the light changes is one thing, but the cold must focus your mind considerably. What I want to know is how do you keep your hands warm? Thanks and best wishes for the New Year.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thanks Solveg. I hear ya!

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Bob. Thanks for your comments. You might be surprised at what I wear. Even yesterday all I had on my painting/brush hand (right handed) was a Thinsulate polypropylene glove liner, those paper thin blue gloves that are designed to line something like a ski glove. I find that is all that I need on that hand and it gives me a lot of control. On the other towel and brush holding hand I also have one of those on and a 'fingerless' mitten, the kind with cut off fingers and a mitten type flap that can be folded back.
By the time I quit on this one I was about ready to put the other mitten on my right hand too as it was getting very cold.
In my boots (designed to be warm to -100˙F...right!) I put a hand warmer inbetween my two sock layers on top of my toes and that kept my feet warm the entire time. The boots alone just aren't as warm as advertised. It also helps to stand on a piece of carpet, foam insulation or even cardboard (slippery). A piece of carpet with foam underneath it would be the best of both worlds. I'll admit to never trying that but others have said that it goes a long way to keeping the cold off of the bottoms of your feet and that goes a long way to keeping you warmer.

Jeffrey Risner said...

Hi Marc again. I have copied your tips about painting the sky and I can see how they can be of great use to me. Remember what Picasso said. Anyway I also bought your book today. Any chance of getting it autographed? :)We may have some snow tomorrow (SE Ohio) so I will see about getting out and following your example.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Jeff... I emailed you about the book.
What Picasso quote are you referring to? I'm interested...

I'm glad the sky tips might be of use. Here's my thought about the need or 'no' need for a half dozen different blues.

In a painting we should be attempting to harmonize all elements within the format of the painting itself, not within all of nature's format.

That means that having all of the variations in a color, like the blues we're discussing, isn't necessarily needed. It's fine to have and use them all. But if you can make your statement with less, there's less to become tangled up in.

It's really more beneficial to find reds and yellows that work to give you the most variety with your mixtures of color. I have two or three of each of those other primaries on the palette and that's what really gives me the ability to use just the one blue.

Painting really is about making an 'illusion'. If you manage the color harmony well, you can get away with very few colors on the palette.

Jacki Newell said...

I just discovered your blog tonite and ended up spending way more time than i intended reading it and drooling over your paintings. You do amazing work and equally amazing to me is the time you take to write about your experiences and answer questions from your fans. Thank you! I'm looking forward to reading more. God bless you in the new year.

rob ijbema said...

what a great way to start the new year,such a freash little painting
have a wonderful 2009 Marc and many thanks for all the beauty you bring/create in this world

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Jacki! Happy New Year wishes to you also. Thanks.

The only limitation to my interest in posting more, longer explanations is 'time' to post. IT is one of the real pleasures (having been a painter long enough to form opinions and think that I might be doing something right... finally), I have... passing on the information that I have to others. Most painters who have put in the hours are pretty inclined to give back what they have learned over time. A lot of that has come directly and indirectly from others more experienced than me. The info isn't anyone person's property or secret.

I appreciate it when you indicate that you enjoy my thoughts about painting and that it helps you too.

Thanks again.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Happy 2009 Rob!!! May it bring you great not being the Flu!!! I read that on your blog and hope that you're over it or on the mend at least.

Thanks for stopping in, you're way too nice. ;-)

michelle said...

What a fun post to read. I went to college in Fairbanks, Ak and know the feel of sub zero weather. Have to say though I was never really brave enough to paint outside when it was that cold.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Michelle. You understand then that if you live in this stuff for long the brain goes into a hibernated state and doesn't make very rational decisions...need I say more!?!? ;-)

I moved to Fairbanks when I was 6 weeks old and lived there for 2 years. Wish I had memories, but thank God for movies.

Fawzan Barrage said...

Hey Marc, I was out this week too! I did my first Plein air of the year in fridgit cold up here in Canada.

One trick I just learned is to use pocket warmers. You can buy these from Walmart I think. You mush them and they heat up and keep going for a couple of hours. They are also reusable. All you have to do is boil them for a bit and let them cool down. They are reusable then. I place a couple in my pockets and a larger one under my palette. It keeps things nice and warm.

Happy New Year! I would love to get your feedback on my little Plein air from Friday:

VanDerHoekArt said...

I am amazed that you were able to paint this in such a cold temperature. And it turned out so beautifully!

Your tips on how to keep warm that you left here in the comment area would make a good blog post for any of us brave enough to paint in extreme cold.

Marc R. Hanson said...

Hi Fawzan. Yep, I had the hand warmers in my socks as mentioned. Richard Schmid put one on his head under his cap in his 'November' video! ;-) Seems like a good idea!
I'll take a look at your study. Good for you. It wasn't all that bad was it? :-o

Marc R. Hanson said...

Thanks Kim... All You need is shorts and sandals!!! I'm jealous. :-)

Frank Gardner said...

I enjoy looking at these snow scenes Marc.
Interesting talk about the cold affecting the sky color.
You have a bit of a different color to your sky up that far north anyway.
I agree on the Ultramarine Blue. It is real versatile and I use it almost exclusively.
Good on you for venturing out into the cold. If I get a chance to do it this winter I would surely consider it a badge of honor.

Anonymous said...

Hello Marc:
How much is New Year's Eve Farm?