White Christmas – Oil Painting

White Christmas

The second in the series of Christmas card subjects. This is an amalgamation of three scenes with a sprinkle of snow to produce a Christmas subject. Each piece would be recognisable in isolation, so it will be ‘familiar’ to many people from this part of the world. But this does not matter, its the ‘feeling’ of Christmas that’s important. I’ve been thinking about what are the essential ingredients in the effective Christmas scene. Time, or the passing of time is important. To quote John Lennon “Another year over. And a new one just begun“. Its the time we stop and think about how quickly things move on, leaving so much behind. Like childhood, parents, grandparents, ancestors.

The above photo does not convey the very subtle colours in the colouring of the snow. It will be a challenge to print this scene as a card, but it will be Ok, I hope. As you will see in the video in the next post I don’t mix these colours on the palette. Instead I place layers of colours where the snow will be. These are thin washes (in solvent) of paint. When the solvent evaporates, pure white is rubbed into these colours picking up and mixing with what’s there. The more the paint is manipulated the deeper the resultant colour. The shadow areas have a ‘blueish’ tinge and the lit areas are a warmer yellow/brown. The final highlights are ‘blobs’ of white with little or no blending or mixing. There is one little problem with this method. The ‘blobs’ are three dimensional and sometimes very much so. With the textured paint I allow the ‘skin’ of the paint to dry and flatten down the paint with my finger tip. Featureless ‘spikes’ I will shave off when dry enough.

The colours used are: Burnt Sienna (red), Raw Sienna (yellow) and Cobalt Blue. No medium, solvent only.

I will have the video in a day or so, see you then.


First Snow, Mullaghcreelan – Time Lapse Painting

First Snow, Mullaghcreelan

As I mentioned in the previous post, I painted this picture as a subject for a Christmas card. I do a few every year and have them printed as cards. The subject is so specific and seasonal, its totally ‘out of place’ any other time of year. A winter painting is different. Even in summertime it can be viewed and enjoyed. But the Christmas card subject seems almost ‘tacky’ by the first of January.

So what is the critical ingredient in the Christmas card? There are the obvious ‘illustration’ type of images, holly, robin, santa, Victorian images, etc. However, a realistic landscape has to rely on all year round objects, jumbled into an arrangement which conveys the feeling of Christmas.

I don’t have a formula for subject matter appropriate for this season and its difficult to say what works or not. Of course I try and plan and ‘create’ the look, but what it is, is difficult to tie down. All I know is that after the celebrations are over and we are thinking about the new year, the painting is packed away for eleven months when it becomes appropriate again.

I will of course do a few ‘winter’ paintings, usually without snow, and as I said before, they will be ‘useable’ any time of the year.

Here is the video of the painting of this picture. I have just completed another ‘card’ and will post it in a day or two. See you then.