Friday, 11 January 2013


Day 11 - 30 in 30

I've been intrigued by snow lately both plein air and in masterpieces in the Louvre, Orangerie and Orsay Galleries.

Larger Originals or Prints of this ACEO by request
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We are taught to call snow white but it is actually full of colour and light. We do see the colour, but we adjust telling ourselves "snow is white". However, since pre-history we have naturally judged the time by observing the colour of shadows and it is more obvious when reflected in snow. It took Monet and his contemporaries to actually paint what we were seeing and they got a lot of flack for it. You're probably familiar with Monet's "Magpie" where he painted winter in all it's many colours. Awesome!

The beauty of snow is that it acts like a white sheet of paper. Colour reflects onto it from the sky and surrounding objects and can be easily observed. It's a little more challenging to see the prismatic effect of sunlight shining through and bouncing off snow but it is possible. I tell my students to stare at their subject till it feels like their eyes are going to pop out and many have told me it helps.

When you have a moment take a look at Monet's facades of Rouen Cathedral painted at different times of day and his haystacks painted in different seasons including ones in the snow. It's unbelievable how much colour he observed and it's particularly illuminating to look at his shadows. I've recently had the joy of seeing a group of the cathedral paintings all on one wall where you really get the opportunity to compare without the vagueries of camera lenses and computer screens. Once again, AMAZING!

TIP: Study the subject until your eyes want to pop out, eventually you will see what others don't. 

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"I would rather die of passion than of boredom"
(Cat # 13010 - posted as # 10 on Leslie Saeta's 30 in 30)