Inspiration in Winter

Although it may surprise some of you, we don’t actually get that much snow in this part of Scotland. The news bulletins tend to exaggerate the extent to which Britain is affected by bad weather and the recent blast of winter has only brought us a couple of light coverings of snow so far. As an artist, I have always found the arrival of snow particularly inspiring as it transforms the landscape around us.

It only takes a couple of inches of snow to alter our familiar surroundings into a winter wonderland. So, following last night’s snow, I decided to venture out with my camera. It would be nice to be brave enough to sit out and sketch but there are times when this simply isn’t practical. Apart from the cold (it has been as low as –4 in recent days), the landscape changes so rapidly that I find it best to try to cover the surrounding area on foot and record what I can with the camera. After all, photography is a skill in its own right, even with all the modern day paraphernalia.

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Sometimes your eye might be drawn to how the snow is resting on rocks, trees or buildings and on other occasions it is the whole panorama. There was not a very thick covering of snow and the sun had just broken through, so the top surface was already starting to melt. This meant that the sky was a strange mixture of bluey grey snow clouds with the sun’s rays filtering through. I quickly took a few photographs and hoped that the results would be good enough to provide me with reference material back in the studio.

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I believe “mood” is very important in landscape painting, whether it is the time of year or the effects of the weather. I like seeing a landscape that has something slightly unusual about it. A few years ago we had a very cold spell of weather in Dumfries and Galloway and nearby Wigtown Bay was virtually frozen over. It was so bitterly cold that only a short walk to take photographs was advisable but I managed to get some nice photographs to take back to the studio. I produced a watercolour of the freezing landscape that hopefully captured something of the mood of the place at the time.

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Advancements in technology give artists the opportunity to use digital cameras, view their photographs whilst at the scene and print them off back in their studio. I tend to print off several photographs and create something original rather than slavishly reproduce one particular image. Of course, if you get the chance, you can return to the scene and make sketches or take notes. Professional artists use similar methods, even in portrait painting. You may even get the occasional photograph that stands up very well by itself.

I hope that my blog is of interest to my followers on Bigvyor.com and that you might be tempted to submit artwork to the site. I shall be starting a new gallery of my photographs soon, many of which have been taken as reference material for subsequent artworks. If you want to contact me about anything in my blog you can email me at harvey.mayson@bigvyor.com.

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