This morning my wife and I were drinking coffee looking out back at the new snow and the subject turned to colour. Specifically blue. This morning the snow is mostly blue with a touch of peach where the early sunlight filters through the trees. When we are asked what colour is snow, we invariably say snow is white. But on observation snow is never white. And that is why it is challenging to paint. Snow is every colour – in a way it is like water – always changing always a different look – sometimes blue, or pink, or yellow or green, and sometimes a strange combination of all colours.
I have been working on 2 series of sketches that works through some of these ideas. One series is about water – light effects on a shoreline at various times of the day and various weather effects. The second series is about snow and the play of light across this “white canvas”. A close look reveals that there is very little true white in any of these sketches.
But what is realized is that snow and water share many of the same qualities – a shadow of one colour, a reflection of another, and highlight of a third. It is the quality and balance of these three that becomes important to the outcome of the light effect.
Snow, water and the effect of light – it is a simple combination that has held the artist’s interest for centuries. To capture their quality, you need to look at the subject with new eyes each time – for it is always changing.