Braving 18°F

After days of single digit temperatures, 18°F felt like it might be sort of manageable for sketching outside. And it was…more or less, given the challenge of sketching with gloves on and needing to work quickly to avoid frozen fingers and feet. Still, there is something fresh about working outside and I suspect this page will always bring to mind the chill of the setting sun and the unexpected sound of hundreds of geese overhead.

Today it is minus-4°F and I am not so brave. Happy New Year!

Tips & Techniques- Why not? Try making a very short foray outside this winter for a quick sketch. Don’t be too fussy about the subject– find something simple that you can capture in about three minutes and jump in. Keep your tools very basic too– a pen or pencil and sketchbook are all you need. I added watercolor later, and decided to try rubber stamps for a fun change of pace.

34 Comments on “Braving 18°F

  1. As always, lovely! It is -16 here this morning in NW Indiana. Too cold to even step a foot outside, but the sunshine through my windows is glorious!

  2. I always love the simplicity and softness of your journal entries. The colors are beautiful. My resolution for the year (well, one of them) is learning when to stop with a painting. Can I ask how you did that lovely mottled background on the junco page? Happy 2018! Kat

    • Hi Kat- That “lovely mottled background” is just a loose wash of cobalt blue with a touch of burnt sienna, applied after all the rest was done. I typically do just one layer of a background like this, but I did two because the first round was a bit too gray. I also used a rather dry old stiff brush to stamp on a bit of white gouache once the wash was fully dry. You can see it more clearly on top of the leaves, but it’s also there to the left of the bird. Happy New Year!

      • Thanks Jean…thanks for the tip about using an old stiff brush to stamp on the white. Do you apply the blue/sienna background with a brush? It looks so soft and “random” like maybe it was sponged on? Sorry if I’m asking you to give away your secrets! I looked through many of your posts and LOVE your backgrounds which are such a challenge for me. I especially love the one on Winter Blues and the yellow behind your Swallow. I wish I could make it to Hog Island. I’d love to see you do a demo. Thank you!

      • HI Kat- no worries…ask away. Yes, all of the backgrounds were done with a brush…I have a size 6 that holds a good amount of water and lets me paint around things. Other times, I use a size 12. The trick is to keep it wet. You might practice doing larger graded washes, and then try doing them around some basic shapes. Sorry I can’t show you a quick demo here!

  3. I grew up in Michigan and I can still remember what that cold feels like. Curious – I heard of a Michigan Artist who took wet watercolor outside in temps like you are having today to let it freeze and it had delicious frost markings. Ever tried that? Today would be the day. Happy New Year!

  4. Oh brrrrrrrrr. I feel like I should jump into my bikini & hustle outside to enjoy our balmy Pacific Northwest sunshine! I certainly don’t have any excuses for not painting “in plain air” (as friend, Barbara, says), do I?

    You’re an inspiration, as always. Gorgeous painting.

  5. Lovely sketch. I adore juncos and always look forward to their presence in winter. Such a nice subtle counterpoint to the showy cardinals and jays!

    With best wishes for a happy (and warmer!) New Year!

  6. I also love juncos – so perky 🙂 and their feathers are so smooth looking.

  7. That page really does carry the chill across….and it’s not over yet! I was out there with my camera the other day, toes frozen, fingers slow, and it was hovering around freezing, nothing compared to what you’re dealing with. I hope you’re doing well and finding something to like about super cold weather. Best 2018 to you!

    • Thanks much! It’s one of those times when it’s good to show up– in spite of the cold– and see what you discover. May just ice or tiny bird prints on snow… The temps are dropping and the wind is picking up though and I’m IN! Here’s to 2018!

  8. Lovely works as always — I admire how you compose each page ! many years ago on a trip to Chicago in Dec I tried to sketch in the cold -gave up within a minute and barely managed to shoot a photo or two before rushing back into a building !! We too are experiencing single digit temperatures, too much snow and cabin fever –brrr. –but catching up on my reading 🙂

    • Hi Jan– thanks. I got the stamps from a small specialty store in NY, but I recently saw a set at an art store. I think they are made by Cavallini & Co. “vintage numbers” is the set.

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