Last Winter was the hardest we have had in all the 16 years that we have lived in Cornwall. There were drifts across the roads and the roads themselves were just sheets of glass. Every path and surface was coated in freezing rain and the wind cut like a blade but the Robin still sat on the ice covered crab-apple tree and sang. So here is a watercolour tribute to that hardy little bird.
This is the view from an up-stairs window of my home. I have left a few things out, like telephone lines and a farm building to help with the flow of the picture. As usual I sketched out the design using a watercolour pencil, this time it was lavender in colour.
Because of the snow most of the paper is left white and the paint, for the most part, is various strengths of the same mix, French Ultramarine, Prussian Blue and Alizarin Crimson. I painted the distant fields with an extremely thin wash of the mix and when that was dry started to paint the hedges in the middle of the picture adding salt to the wet paint to create the mottled snow covered effect. Starting in the middle gives me a base to work from so that I can create the feeling of distance by painting the back with a weaker mix and the front with a stronger one.
Then I painted in the distant fields and added in some stronger tones for shadows, all the time adding salt to the wet paint.
When painting the foreground I added a little yellow ochre to the paint mix and dropped in more of the stronger colour for shadows.
When that was dry I drew in the top of the crab-apple tree.
Then painted the tree with a much stronger version of the same mix
Finally I added the Robin and some snow flakes.
The snow causes no end of problems, mainly because we have it so rarely and are therefore unprepared but I love it and I hope we have the same again this year.