The frost this morning reminds me of a painting from a few years ago, just a small thing, a plein air sketch done first thing in the morning to catch the details of a frosty morning like today.
I passed this spot for years on my way to work every morning, an abandoned farm at the intersection of two back roads, the house gone though the flat area where it stood still persists, the yard full of overgrown lilacs and a tired-looking spruce, the pastures surrounded by only fence posts with no wire now full of young trees as they return to our native wooded hillsides, and just the last vestiges of the road that led to the pasture and the barns over the hill impressed in the grass.
Watching it in all seasons, I was enchanted by the transformation of a frosty morning when the palette of colors was influenced by the hazy blue of the frost itself, coating the overgrown grasses, the brambles and young trees, the morning sky faded by the frosty moisture in the air. I planned this one for a weekend morning with the same conditions, and was rewarded by a Saturday in the same stretch of frosty mornings. As the sun rose I drove out to the spot and quickly painted this little sketch, remembering all the details that had so impressed me on the mornings I’d passed the abandoned spot: the stark shadows from the angled late autumn sun cast in deep cool blue contrasted with the muted tones of the overgrowth cast in warm umbers in the sunlight, highlighted by the soft yellow of the field of grasses.
I don’t like to overdo these little inspirations. The painting is only 6″ x 6″ and was done in less than a half hour, just enough time and space to render what stayed with me each time I passed.
I still have the original painting, matted and framed, and it’s one of 43 pieces in an exhibited I hosted in 2004 entitled “Winter White“, featuring all small works done primarily en plein air sharing the beauty of winter colors. It’s still one of my favorite exhibits.
I am very much inspired by the Impressionists for my extemporaneous en plein air paintings like “Frost”, especially after having seen the catalog for an exhibit, “Impressionists in Winter: Effets de Neige“ at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in the summer of 1999.
Another winter is on its way, and the images are already building!