from a cold winter walk.

It’s been a few weeks since I posted a sketch.

In fact, it’s been a few weeks since I painted or sketched anything of any worth.

That’s what happens when a beloved family member, even one who is a hundred and one years old, falls into a three week decline leading to their passing. Grief can be creative muse, but it was not mine.

I went for a lot of walks in January, often taking nothing with me besides the dog and my phone.

My phone has a camera, of course, so I took lots of photos. Photos of the snow. Photos of the dog. Photos of the dog in the snow.

snow is not white

Winter around here is nearly six months long, so any hope of avoiding painting the snow or snow-filled scenes goes out the window with my choice of residence. that said, snow is not white. Or rather, snow is rarely white. Fresh snow in the sunlight is blue. Snow along a path is speckled brown. Snow in the shadows is grey or purple or deep shades of blue. Snow reflects the light. Snow mottles with shadow and shape and prints and tracks. Snow glints and shines. Snow shapes itself to the ground or to objects, it clings in random shapes to branches, hanging, drooping, piling, mounding, or globbing. Snow melts into puddles, smooths into ice, and does a thousand other unexpected things, each that makes it a challenge to paint.

I didn’t paint any of this until yesterday.

My motivation to paint was low in January. My motivation to sit in the snow and paint in January was zero.

I have no qualms about painting from a photo, of course. Plein air sketching is of course a lovely way to spend some time during a walk, but watercolor requires water… not ice. So plein air en hiver has not turned out to be compatible with this hobby so far.

From a photo it was then…

And my dog, as complex as she is to get right in blobs of browns and shadow, is even trickier when she features in a thumb-sized rendering like in this small-format sketch in my 3.5×5.5 inch moleskine folio (to give you a sense of the size of the original work.)

Lacking any other motivation for creativity, I took it though. And I’m not unhappy with the results.