My first day dawned very cold and overcast at the yearly artists' retreat at the Grand Marais Art Colony. It seemed best to let it get a little "warmer" (I was hoping for it to get to zero) before donning all my gear to venture out. Luckily the views out the windows at the lodge all presented inspiring subjects.
How best to use this block of time? There was a little sketch pad with gray paper in it that I had just gotten and hadn't used yet. Birch tree with snow against a gray sky...looked like the possibility of an exercise in grays! Birch tree trunks are filled with color, and that is what I usually paint - color. Expressing the grace and beauty of the subject in shades of gray seemed like a good way to start the day.
I chose part of a tree that had attractive brand structure and a little snow snuggled in one of the crotches. The drawing was lightly sketched in with graphite pencil, then the darks were added with a black pastel pencil. The lightest parts were added with a white pastel pencil. I also had two shades of gray pastel pencils, and I worked back and forth between light and dark until the tree took form. It turned out surprisingly well, but there was something not quite right about it at first. By then it was time to go outside and paint, so I put the little sketch aside until later.
That evening I looked at it again, changed a few areas, and just like that, it went from an experiment to a lovely little jewel! I was tempted to keep it for myself, but I framed it up and exhibited it in the show at the end of the retreat. It was one of the first pieces to be purchased, and I had the pleasure of meeting its new owners. Thank you, and enjoy!
4 x 6