January snow

Material: canvas on hardboard
Technique: oil
Year: 2015
Size: 15,5х27 cm (6×11.5 in)
Painting status: you can buy the original or a print

For the first time in several years I dared to go into a forest to paint en plain air in winter.

To paint when it’s cold is always harder. It seems no matter how well you dress you will freeze, because while working on a painting you almost cannot move. Your hands freeze most of all: it’s inconvenient to hold a brush in mittens or gloves and to lay paint on the canvas. And the paints themselves freeze and turn into a dense paste. They don’t mix very well and it’s hard to scoop them with a brush.  One can’t remain in such conditions for long, so you need to invent a way to work fast and expressively.

The place I was painting at is a stable yard in a forestry. Its dark-grey buildings were contrasting shapes on the background of the snow. In this dark-grey color you can find a variety of colors. The blackish poles that were sticking up from the snow, which melted and froze again more than once this winter, are the trunks of the young trees and dry plants.  I decided that I would paint a study with oil: dark shapes on the dark-white background.

The whole time I was working was unusually silent. The silence was only occasionally interrupted by rustles of birds and vague voices of infrequent passers-by from a distance.

Only when the painting was finished did I realize that the layers of the clothes on me had frozen. With bluish hands I gathered my instruments and quickly exited the forest. Seeing some familiar places reminded me of how I came skiing here as a child with my parents. When we were going back home afterwards, we made a short stop in a bakery and bought hot bread. It was like a trip back to my childhood, but this time I was not carrying skis but rather my painter’s case and a painting I had just created.

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