Paint the beauty of Winter: it’s more colorful than you think!

LIttle Spruce, Vail by Karen Gillis Taylor, oil, 12 x 16"

LIttle Spruce, Vail by Karen Gillis Taylor, oil, 12 x 16″

What could be more beautiful than a moonlit night in the Colorado mountains? You are probably saying, “Well, I might suggest my idea of a beautiful moonlit night is …” >insert your favorite place<. Smiling here, wishing I knew what other people would love to tell me about their favorite moonlit place. Why not comment and tell me, I’d LOve that!

For a time I worked more often with photos I took from nature and began to find ways to re-interpret a scene with the help of imagination. So my original daylight scene became the night time one you see here, complete with my color palette below it. The painting is almost monochrome, blues dominating. A closer look reveals the many other hues providing accents of interest and excitement.

One of my favorite design exercises in art school involved creating a large set of one inch squares in gouache paint that represented each of the four seasons. It’s a VERY subjective project. We were asked to express our definition of seasonal color, four times. This was one of my first design challenges about color, other than regular painting classes. The Winter palette was the most challenging, but also the most intriguing. In North America, Winter colors may seem limited, but not so if you really look.

I believe the impact of my Little Spruce  painting is mostly about value. The darks are near black, the lights are sparkling white. Those opposite values make for a composition of strong contrasts here and there, with some quieter areas of low contrast for a softening effect. That is what I see in nature all the time.

Nature is our first teacher. Then it’s up to us to say what we would like to say in paint or photography or drawing or art quiltmaking.

Try this: walk about in Nature, pay close attention, and let in sink in, all the light, the color and the magic, even the smells of the woods and mist, or the city sounds and shapes. Then go to the sketchbook or canvas or collection of quilt fabrics and put that memory into a visual picture of the symphony you have seen and remembered. Don’t try to copy nature too closely, unless you love realism and its enticements. Instead, be brave and make your own path through the woods. Trust your imagination, your creativity in your favorite art.


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8 Responses to “Paint the beauty of Winter: it’s more colorful than you think!”

  1. Judy Broughton Says:

    Hi Karen, I love this one and being a moon child plus being just plain looney, the night time is my time. My favorite moonlit memory would be in Maui after snorkeling all day with giant turtles, driving up Mt. Haleakala at sunset. We walked into the crater, and waited for the full moon to rise. Rising from the side of the crater, it slowly consumed the entire sky. As it rose overhead it’s light illuminated the entire landscape, casting shadows like the noon sun. We climbed out at midnight in silence and awe of the beauty and magic we just witnessed. Much love, Judy


  2. meta Says:

    It’s a lovely interpretation!


  3. marjorie Says:

    Thank you for your lovely post. And your painting is just beautiful!


  4. Leslie Ann Clark Says:

    Interesting question. My favorite moonlit night was the night I met Gary. We were outside looking up through the trees at the street light. For some reason the light made the branches appear to be in a circle. It was so cool…. but mostly I am a dawn person. :0) hey Judy!


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