Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First Plein Air, Winter, Snow Scene of the Year!

"Frozen Beauty, January 12, 2016", oil on panel, 12" x 12", c. 2016 Charlene Marsh
We finally got some snow!  4 1/2" fell Saturday night into Sunday morning and more Monday night into Tuesday morning.  The snow is thick and heavy and weighs down all the branches.  So gorgeous!  The sun finally came out around noon and I was just itching to go out and paint.  The sky was a brilliant blue and the light was just fabulous!  The temps hovered around 21 degrees, "real feel":  one degree!  Brrrrr.....  Normally too cold to try and paint.  The paint freezes too fast.  But I thought if I didn't hike too far and took a smaller panel, I might be able to get a painting completed before my paint got too sticky and stiff.  

I lay out the paint in the studio before I head out so I can get started painting right away.  I also don't want to carry the extra weight of the tubes of paint.  As soon as I laid out the paint in the pochade and packed my Kelty backpack, I bundled up and headed out.

I stopped here to paint.  How much more beautiful can the forest be?  Beautiful but very difficult to hike through.  I got my pochade and tripod set up in quick time.

I am actually standing in the creek while I paint with the legs of the tripod in the water, too.  Luckily, I have some great, insulated, waterproof boots although I forgot to slip some toe warmers in them before heading out.

After laying out the scene with a quick sketch, I start by blocking in the dark creek and then move to the snow in the shadows.  I mix a violet-blue and add white.

Then I move to the areas lit by the sun and then the trees while working back and forth between the foreground, background, sky, and water.

Okay, I confess, I got so "into" working on the painting I forgot to shoot more pictures in progress.  I usually go into a trance state while painting and am just focused on what I am doing.  I was also trying to get it done while the paint was still workable. 

Finally satisfied with the finished painting, I packed up my supplies and break down.  My feet were really, really cold and I wanted to go ahead and take a hike and warm up.  So I left my painting gear along the trail by the creek and headed deeper into the woods, marveling at the intense beauty and peace and quiet. 

When I finally got back to the studio, three hours later, the temperature had dropped to 14 degrees with a "real feel" of MINUS ONE!!!  BRRRRRR!!!!! 

Here is the finished painting:

"Frozen Beauty, January 12, 2016", 12" x 12", plein air oil on panel, Code # 011216 12x12

Update:  January 27, 2018.  I recently finished a 24" x 36" version of this painting in the studio.  You can see it and read the blog HERE

Thanks for following along!

Happy Trails!



  1. Charlene, how absolutely divine! I admire you for braving the weather to create this!

  2. Wowwwww! What a beautiful painting!

  3. Thank you for taking me on a trip into the wild woods to see the beauty of the forests. I'm loving your blogposts and paintings. The process of painting as you do is fascinating. I can feel the cold, hear the trickling water, and smell the paint! Thank you and I hope you can make it again to the Marion Art Show in Marion Iowa, where I first admired your works.

  4. Thanks for all your wonderful comments! I strive to capture the spiritual essence of the forest and creek and seasons in the paintings. Sometimes it just "clicks"! I love the Marion Art Show! There are several shows that same weekend so I will have to see what works out but I hope to return again someday!