Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Swans on Dazzling Water

Pastel on Clairefontaine Pastelmat, 18.75 x 26.6 inches

Looking straight into the sun, as in this composition, is one of my favourite sorts of subjects, as you may have seen if you are a regular observer of my Blog (remember, I know where you all live...........)

This was largely an exercise in observing tone and subtle colours.  It is also a classic example of what I preach in my demos, ie., painting what you see, not what you know, or think what you see.  We all know snow is white, but it only appears white if the sun is behind you when you look at it, or on a dull day.  In this landscape, looking into the sun, the snow on the field below the horizon appears white, but on the banks and trees, where the snow is in shadow, it appears various shades of blue and mauve...compare these passages next to the white border....much darker aren't they? 

The lightest light is saved for the reflection of the pure sunlight, with particular attention paid to the yellowy-orange dead reeds almost obliterated by the dazzling brightness of the water.  Only by getting these tone right will the painting appear convincing. 

There was really an awful lot of work in this painting, mainly in depicting all the dead vegetation in the water and all the little jewel-like sparkles on the surface, but I'm pleased with the result.  The pair of Swans, of course, adds a bit of life to the largely dead riverscape.  I can't resist Swans and I never tire of painting them - they are just such elegant birds.

I haven't posted for a while, having been down to Devon to take some of my recent work to the Marine House Gallery, some of which will be at the AAF later this week - news on that to follow.  I managed just one little plein air Oil painting in the fading light when I was there, to be posted when I have finished it in the studio after these Pastels I'm currently working on.


  1. Lovely surprise as always to see a new painting. Your pastel looks like an oil painting and now when I see sparkling water you come to mind. Looking forward to hearing news of the AAF. Hope all goes well. Ve


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