With winter here, it can be tough to work on plein air paintings. I have watched some YouTube videos by artists who bundle up and trudge through he snow to do plein air landscapes, and I think they’re quite courageous for doing so. But keeping yourself warm while painting in 10 degree weather is not that hard, keeping your paint pliable is more questionable. You can add medium or solvents to the paint.
In my former life as a color developer, I was asked by a grounding marking paint firm to devise a good product for spraying football fields in very cold weather under a tent, specifically, the only Super Bowl held up north, the one in New Jersey which was probably around nine or ten years ago. While the product was never approved, I did experiment with alcohols in paint, and that works pretty well. But you are diluting the paint, which makes it thinner and less opaque.
As for myself, I’ve preferred to work inside my car. Its old but in pretty good shape, which makes it a good vehicle for painting inside, and that’s pretty much what I’ve been doing this winter when I have gone out to paint.
At the beginning of November, I started a painting that is on my gallery page, and is called Three Farms. I was looking for a late fall scene, one that showed the remains of this year’s fields, with occasional buildings, a distant view, and some sunlight. I worked on the painting from my easel, next to the car for the first few weeks of the month. I found out that it can be pretty cold in the morning, especially out in the farm fields, and that he wind can be pretty strong, even if its windless back in town. My easel and painting was knocked over twice while my back was turned, due to the stubborn winds out in the open fields.
I was finished with most of the right side of the painting when we got about five inches of snow. That was in the middle of the month. The last day there, I took photos in case I had to work on the painting inside. Thankfully, the snow melted, but I wasn’t able to get back out until after Thanksgiving. When I did, it was getting pretty cold and windy. I worked inside my car, but I ended up working on the nearest house and trees on the left side of the painting at home.
By the time I finished, I was working on the first of two night time paintings. This one was a smaller painting of the row of street lights that line a road near out house, as well as the darkened marsh and the lights of a distant road on the right. Painting dark is hard because dark colors tend to go flat, and lighten in the process. You end up allying linseed oil on it to allow the painting to hold its true colors. I used a head lamp to paint in the dark, but a good portion of the painting was worked on back at home.
I also have been working on a larger painting of two car dealerships at night with the lot lights on from the parking lot of the grocery store next door. The inside of the car has proven to be adequate for painting, although it does tend to get cold after a half hour or so. I worked on the painting at night from early December into early January. I was lucky in that we didn’t have any snow after the one I mentioned for quite some time. Both paintings need dry and have varnish applied before the can be photographed and posted on my gallery page.
I had made plans to painting a Christmas lights painting but without snow, during the Christmas season, as well as a rather lackluster display of lights this year, I settled for the car lot. Since then, I started a few smaller paintings, one of two farm fields, and another of a marsh near a church, but presently, we finally got another five inch snowfall, and both paintings are on hold until the snow clears.