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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

High Sierra Winter Creek Oil Painting by Esther J. Williams

"High Sierra Winter Creek" 10"W x 8"H, oil on stretched linen. I have been traveling to the High Sierras for over 20 years with my husband and kids. We stay up there several times a year. We used to just camp in Bishop Creek, then we would stay at a local motel and go up to the peaks, finally we met a friend who owned a cabin in Aspendell and we stay there off & on. It allows me to walk right out the door and hike along the creek. I have painted up here for years. There are so many special places I know that I like to keep them secret. This is one of them, I can visit this place and find fresh deer or bear tracks on the the thick ice leading up to the creek water. This was in January, there is a pond that fisherman wade into and fish, the foreground of this oil painting is the ice of that pond, the creek stays thawed as the snow melts from the high peaks and makes a continuous flow down to Bishop. The focal point of this scene is the larger, more detailed bush on the other side of the creek with the light pouring through either side of it and casting it's reflection on the water. I must add that I had just read a book about the painting process on one of Manet's impressionist paintings before I painted this. Manet painted a Paris street scene in glaring light which looked like a winter scene although it wasn't, he used light hues of white mixed with either blue, yellow-orange or gray, he slowly built up the painting by mixing his oils with mineral spirits to make a oil wash, then he layered on top some thicker brush strokes, not all of the painting was thick paint, in fact, there was many translucent areas of thinned paint. I liked how his street scene captivated me with it's dreamy atmosphere and light hues. I knew that was what I had to try for this snow scene. In my painting there are many thin areas where you can see paint glossed over the canvas grain, then in the focal area, the paint is piled on thicker. Nice effect, my whites are not pure white for my snow, in fact I add at the very last some white tinted with a small bit of the sky blue color for the final highlights. I also used a palette knife that had a mixture of the sky blue mixed with white to add that reflected sky appearance in the end. Edgar Payne often painted up here and I like to study his works, he used color combinations of blues, grays and yellow-oranges for his snow covered mountain peaks, a color combination I borrowed from to paint this scene. There is not any black in this for I did not want to make too dark shadows. The blues, mauve and blue-violet shadows was all that was needed and keeps this vibrant in color. This oil painting is available for purchase. Comes framed.

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