This mini is based on a painting I did on our Artist Retreat. The original shows Maligne Lake with the mountains done carefully for accuracy, but since this was so tiny I felt I had more license to just doodle what I wanted with the shadows. It isn’t the best picture, but I have a brilliant new lamp that makes for better pictures in future!
There was once a tiny community called Silverwood in the Peace Country just up the rail line from Rycroft, Alberta. For years after most of the people dispersed, the old store and gas station stood together, watching over the abandoned tracks. They look like they could still carry on a conversation after all those years side by side. Probably discussing the weather.
JK and Carolyn took a walk through deep snow and tangled undergrowth to see how the river was looking this winter. We came to a steep, sandy cliff far above the river bed and could look across quite a broad area of pure white snow and deep blue shadows. The painting doesn’t show JK chucking logs off the cliff, checking to see if he’d be any good at caber tossing.
We’ve had a lot of hoar frost this winter and sometimes the same old scenes around the neighbourhood become quite stunning in their frozen finery. Here is the weeping birch down the street with every fine tendril decorated in sparkling white.
We’ve had quite a bit of fog this winter, which turns the valley into a soft, out of focus vista. Spirit River is on the north side of a hill so we look out over about 30 kms of farmland rising gently to other hills on the horizon. Somewhere near the middle of what we can see is the Peace River, and, although it is tucked into its own impressive valley, we see the fog rising from it and travelling up our hill to envelop the town. This miniature is an impression of a morning when the promising pink sunrise was quickly shrouded in mysterious fog.
I find the sights in a neighbourhood more fascinating as I’ve started to notice things like shapes (the triangles of rooftops), patterns (the fences, in layers) and the juxtaposition of human structures with nature’s randomness. These things are especially apparent after a snowfall, when each board is decorated with a topping of white, each rooftop angle is highlighted, and the entire scene becomes a monochrome.
Perhaps because, here in the Peace Country, we are accustomed to open views stretching 30 kilometers or so and vast enough to be unobstructed by buildings or fences, these close up, intimate perspectives are novel.
Drawing these things is a test of patience, but certainly good practice for getting sizes and composition right. It is also important to use lots of contrast for complicated, layered subjects. This sketch represents an enjoyable hour in a warm studio after a chilly photographic tour of the neighbourhood.
Wow, herein lies a challenge! The sunshine and shadows where these two fences, one quite plain and one more ornate, meet were eye-catching. However, it wasn’t until the sketch was underway that the true intricacies of the subject became apparent. Perspective is intriguing by itself, but shadows don’t have to play by the rules!
Is it the angle at which the photo of the sketch was taken that makes the metal fence lean in rather than out? I’m not sure. I didn’t notice until I looked at the image on the screen. Our eyes and brains deceive us!