If you are a regular reader of these notes, you may recall that I enjoy doing paintings with a similar theme in a series. Last month, I did three such paintings and will likely do more. These will be works, mainly of overcast days in winter of rural scenes. With the old wood of barns and bridges, it makes the picture nearly neutral (almost devoid of color). Then, by adding a small bit of color, one can help control where the eye goes. In this case, to the windows of the barn on the right. The title comes from boyhood memories at my grandparents' farm in Nebraska and winter mornings where I would wake to the muffled sounds of conversations, laughter and the smell of breakfast. Sometime after I got to the table, my uncle and grandad would come in from early chores, stomping the snow from their boots and sitting down with us. It may not sound like much, but these are cherished memories for me.
After I did a series of this model with various colors of hair last month (and especially after the blonde one) I thought it might be fun to do one where the hair was entirely gold leaf. Turns out it wasn't fun. The adhesive to apply the gold leaf gave me fits and I had to do it four times to get it to look even this good. But I learned from it and will likely use gold leaf again at some point. Some of you old-timers may recognize the title from a song by America in the 70s.
If it is possible to have a favorite group of trees, this would be mine. They are in nearby Haverhill, NH with Mt. Mousilauke in the distance. I have painted it many times from several angles and in each season. But it is especially beautiful to me in late afternoon when the low sun illuminates the tops of those trees and shows the warmth of the sun compared to the cools in the shadows.
Another in the near neutral series, this one had no opportunity to put a light on unless it would have been from the headlights of a car and that would have taken the focal point away from where it should be.
Monique does have mysterious eyes and there is something in that mystery that really makes me want to capture it on canvas. You will likely see those eyes in my paintings for years to come. For this small one, I wanted to return to an earlier style where there are few brushstrokes visible.
Artists can control how a viewer sees a painting. This can be done with composition, values (light and dark range), color and contrast. Each of those were used here. I changed the composition by adding the fence from the tree forward. It did not exist in the photo from which I worked. I also got rid of a fence-line that went from that tree straight across to the right. The former was done to help lead the eye into the picture plane and the latter, to prevent a visual barrier. Essentially, it blocked the viewer from entering in. Then I turned some lights on in the house, which added color and gave it a bit of warmth and maybe an invitation to come in out of the cold. Lastly, I added some black shutters on the house to provide more contrast to help lead your eye to those lighted windows. The use of the word, "wicked" in the title, is pure New England jargon, meaning "very". Here, one can even be "wicked nice.
Another favorite area for me to paint is the Connecticut River Valley, which forms the border between New Hampshire and Vermont. There are many places that provide wonderful vistas each season and at different times of the day.