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White Paper

My most recent painting (that I am willing to write about) is this one that comes from a photo my stepson Bill took while cross country skiing at Red Rocks park in South Burlington this winter.  This is a full sheet watercolor- the second one I have done and they are quite a challenge for me.  When you paint with watercolor, you work on a flat horizontal surface for the most part so you are really close to the paper and it is hard to gain perspective.  Every once in a while, you need to put it on an easel and get a 'sense of it'.

There is a lot of interest in the painting due to the long shadows and the great contrast between dark and light.  With watercolor, you need to reapply the color to the darks because it always dries lighter and in order for the contrast to work, you need the darks of the tree trunks to stand out.  That, coupled with reapplying without creating a water blob in the wrong spot, is critical!  

The other component of this painting that was a challenge was using the white of the paper for the snow and for the light of the sun shining through the trees.  I needed to keep paint off the paper so that the white stays white. This means that you need to paint around the snow and sun negatively so that the white remains untouched.  Then painting and changing the gradation of value working out from the sun, I started to build the color of the branches darker as they get further away from the center of the sun.  The ski prints on the path were created with a swipe of a palette knife in the wet paint.  

I really like the feeling I get from this painting.  There is a quiet and calm presence that makes me want to enter the scene.

- Lauren

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