Being a morning person, it is pretty easy for me to be up and moving early in the day, even before the sun is up. So many of my en plein air paintings are morning scenes. But, Vermont is experiencing an arctic cold snap and the temperature at 6am this morning was -18. It is possible to paint in sub-zero temperatures, but it is not pleasant. “Tunbridge Hills” was done on a morning when the temperature was -17. You could say I learned my lesson that morning.
I’ve painted this scene a number of times before. It is a secluded spot that looks south into the Hoosick River valley around Pownal, Vermont. But never in late afternoon winter light.
The most attractive feature of this scene is the contrasting patterns of open fields and tree lines. In this weak, afternoon light, most of the snow covered fields were in patterns of blue-gray shade and shadow, but still light enough to provide contrast with the trees and forests around them.
The scene was dramatic, but it seemed that by the time the sun was about to disappear, it would be even more dramatic. So color and value choices were dictated by what I was expecting to happen, rather than what I was seeing in the moment. The sun was about to disappear, just as the painting was finished. The result was not far from the reality.
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