Cold weather, dark gray skies, and the occasional flurries might put many in a gloomy mood. It will force some to stay locked in their houses, giving them an excuse to watch TV for hours and hours.
Then there are the adventurers….
Some extreme adventurers laugh at weather conditions, drill through ice, and sit for hours waiting for that bite. Some weaker adventurers (like myself) laugh at weather conditions just the same, but sit in a nice warm car and sketch extreme adventurers at play. He, he, he.
Winter is truly beautiful, even on the most gloomiest of days. It makes me happy to be out even if it means I have to sketch from my car to keep from freezing. I can appreciate the beauty of nature just the same looking through the window.
Maybe you can try it? If you feel as if you have cabin fever, get in your car and drive to the nearest forest preserve or cemetery. Just sit for 15 minutes and look for interesting things. Can you spot birds? Which way is the wind blowing? Follow the sway of branches. Notice the shapes of dried weeds….they’re all so different. Try to write down what’s going on or maybe even create a little poem. In just a few minutes your mood will suddenly be uplifted.
Goodbye cabin fever.
Posted in art, Artwork, Chicago, nature, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching, weather
Tagged art, Artwork, Herrick Lake, ice fishing, nature, painting, sketch, sketchbook, sketching winter, watercolor, winter
Winter brings out the true character of a tree, exposing every branch, every twig. It reveals the very essence, divulges hidden secrets, and leaves you in a trance as you try to follow one branch with your eyes…from the trunk to the very tip of its tiniest twig. It’s a challenging maze and no two trees are the same.
It is perhaps that challenge of recreating the spirit of the tree on paper which brings me so much joy, but I can only fully understand it in the wintertime. Exposed and silent, it confesses that spirit and somehow I feel as if I’m communicating with its Creator.
That is the mystery of art. Although done in solitude, you are not alone. Your creativity begins a conversation with nature and with God and the best part is, they speak in return.
This apple tree had the setting sun turn selected twigs a golden yellow, while others blushed with rose, and yet a few had a cobalt glow. A downy woodpecker feasted on the suet cake at the feeder, filling up before twilight. That’s the story it told me.
On another day, I chose to study this mulberry tree by drawing in graphite with branch pencils my daughter gave me for Christmas.
Neat pencils! It’s like I’m drawing a branch with a branch.
This winter mulberry tree has a hard lean to the right. Most of it’s branches grew from the right side. To the left of the mulberry tree is a thick evergreen tree. There is struggle for sunlight, resulting in the mulberry’s shape and that’s the story the mulberry tells me.
Let’s go out and paint nature, but more importantly let’s hear the stories nature is trying to tell us. Enjoy.
Posted in art, Artwork, God, nature, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor sketching
Tagged apple tree, art, Artwork, branch pencils, drawing, mulberry, painting, sketch, sketchbook, tree, watercolor, winter
The Chicago area has been hit by two significant snow storms since winter started. I love snow. Not only is it soothing to watch as it descends, but it dresses the winter trees in their formal attire. How beautiful. Each and every one dazzles.
So, let’s paint a winter tree during an enchanted nighttime snow storm!
I do not have a reference photo but the technique will work with any deciduous winter tree.
Step 1: Draw your tree on a 140lb coldpress watercolor paper with a pencil. My paper size is 6×9. The focal point is the tree itself so in the composition law of thirds, I wanted the tree to fill 2/3 of the paper.
Step 2: Using masking fluid, paint where the snow would land on the branches. I covered the tops of almost every branch. Let completely dry. If you do not wait until it is completely dry, you will ruin your brush. You can make sure it is dry by lightly touching it after about 10 minutes.
Step 3: We are going to paint the sky wet on wet. Using a 1″ flat brush with clean water, wet the paper in the area of the sky and the tree. Brush right over the dried masking fluid. Make sure you do not skip around and leave dry spots. When the shine on the paper disappears, paint ultramarine blue on top and bottom of sky and mauve in the middle. Let the colors blend and touch. You’re literally laying down a few brush strokes and stepping away. Do not over work this.
While the paper is still wet, sprinkle a little bit of sea salt on the paper and let completely dry. When dry tilt your paper and discard the salt.
Step 4: Paint the tree starting at the bottom and work your way up. I used a medium round brush. If you look at the base of the tree I started with a mixture of sepia and ultramarine. As I work my way up, I added mauve to that sepia/ultramarine mixture, then viridian green, lastly at the top alizarin crimson.
Using a small round brush, paint in smaller branches repeating the colors we already used.
Step 5: Rub the masking fluid off with your finger. Paint shadows under the tree using the same sky color on top.
Step 6 Final: Using a small round brush paint a light mixture (meaning less pigment and more water) of prussian blue where the snow touches the branches, making a fine line. This is the shadow color of the snow on the tree.
When everything is dry, take a #3 black micron pen and draw tiny branches/twigs coming from the small branches. Outline the trunk and main branches of the tree to make it stand out.
I hope you enjoyed this free step-by-step demonstration of how to paint a nighttime winter snowstorm.
If you would like to purchase a greeting card ($4.95) or archival print click below. Thank you!
Posted in art, Artwork, Chicago, nature, watercolor painting, weather
Tagged art, Artwork, Christmas, free step by step painting demonstration, how to, how to paint, how to paint a winter tree, nature, night watercolor scene, nighttime painting, painting, snow, tree, watercolor, winter, winter tree
An overnight storm blankets the earth and covers each bough, each twig,
But midday sun breaks snow’s grip.
As dollops of ice and snow slide off,
Lower branches become chords to this tree harp.
Various high pitched chimes ring in the frosty air.
I let the crystal notes swirl.
I am pine’s biggest fan.
As a Christmas Gift to you, I am offering this artwork.
It has the words “Merry Christmas” and “John 3:16” so that we can keep our minds focused on the real meaning of the season: For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Your sins has been bought at a high price. May the free gift of Jesus’ sacrifice be your salvation and peace forever more.
Click here for a full resolution .PDF of Merry Christmas Pine
The link is a 5.5×7″ .PDF file that is around 12MB. You can print it on card stock to make cards.
If you would like a .JPG file (7MB) so that you can send it to Walgreen’s and have them make cards, click here for a full resolution .JPG of Merry Christmas Pine.
Another screen will open, right click on the picture and select: “Save Image As”, then save it in your computer.
Have a beautiful and safe Holiday Season, Friends!
Posted in art, Artwork, Free Download, God, nature, Nature Sketching, Paint His Love, poetry, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor painting, watercolor sketching
Tagged art, Artwork, free artwork, merry christmas, nature, pine, poem, sketch, sketchbook, snow, snowy pine, watercolor, winter
East Branch DuPage River
A mild temperature cultivates an ideal setting for wildlife. There seems to be no end this day, as I notice abundant wildlife everywhere. Sitting next to the quiet river, a gaggle of geese tranquilly bobs up and down. Suddenly, half of them take flight for reasons unknown. The heavy beats of their wings splashes the top of the water, creating excitement like electricity in the once quiet air. I watch in slow motion as they accelerate in height as well as speed.
Looking up, a kettle of hawks glide on the thermals spiraling downward. Some screech as they glide making this human envious of their freedom.
Deer litter the field along the trail. They are hesitant while staring at me, feeling me out. They are quiet, gentle giants, giving me the benefit of the doubt. If I take a step forward, they take a step further, then stare. Step. Stare. Step. Stare. We perform this dance in nature between human and beast. Another dance takes place above as a male cardinal chases a female from twig to twig. The flash of red catches my eye, red against the brown of winter.
Posted in art, Artwork, Chicago, hiking, nature, Nature Sketching, sketch book, sketchbook, watercolor sketching, wildlife
Tagged art, Artwork, churchill woods, geese, hawks, journal, nature, river, sketch, sketchbook, watercolor, wildlife, winter