Saturday, February 15, 2014

“Stream with Snowy Branch” Watercolor Process Demo By Mira Fink

I was inspired to do this painting during a winter walk on an exceedingly cold day.  I was out to find some comfort in nature, as my mother had died recently and I was feeling so sad.  I took many photographs of this stream, but chose only a few to paint.  The reason I chose this one was that I loved the snow covered branch hanging over the stream and the way the light was hitting some of the trees making them so bright, while other trees were deep in shadow.  It was almost like a heavenly light.  Here’s the photo I took that day; it was too cold to do any sketches on location. 

Back in the studio, I drew a value sketch first on drawing paper to understand the composition and make any adjustments and then drew with pencil again lightly on my watercolor block.  Did you notice I added a third tree branch on the right tree?

                                                    Value Drawing in my sketchbook                        

Next, I wet the paper and put in the first washes of the sky, the trees in the sun light and the stream.  I dropped in the color quickly while the paper was still wet in order to let the colors blend together.  I am careful to paint around the areas which I want to stay very light or white. 

First Wet on Wet Washes

Then I added some of the background trees on top of the light colored background.  I am having fun now exaggerating colors and letting colors blend while wet. The tree trunks have combinations of red, blues and browns.  I am working on the branch in front at the same time so that it relates color wise to the rest of the painting. 


Above, I have added more trees in the background and some shore details.  

Now, after spending a few hours shoveling a few feet of snow, it is time to get back to this painting and finish it.  I spend some time looking at the painting and thinking about what has to happen to make it work.  The stream needs to go all the way back.  Everything needs to get darker and some detail and subtle washes need to be added to the icy areas on the sides of the stream to distinguish them from the snow covered shore.  The background trees need just a little more definition. One challenge will be to maintain the color and brightness of the stream while adding some darker shadows. 

Here’s the finished painting.  I like the warm glow in the background trees and the colors in the stream. 
"Stream with Snowy Branch" 9x12 watercolor - will frame to 16x20
Hope you enjoyed this demonstration. To see more of my work go to my webpage or visit my blog 

Friday, February 7, 2014

How do you connect with nature?

How do we connect with nature? For me it is as simple as going outdoors and reveling in it's beauty, letting my senses become alert to the sounds, the smells, the sight of the light, the colors around me.  And because I am an artist,  trying to capture some of that energy to take home.  My inspiration comes from that first moment of awe, when I see something that strikes me as beautiful.  And then I need to paint it. 

Well, perhaps not that simple, because in order to appreciate nature, we have to really be in it, not just outdoors with all the voices in our head; the lists of things to do, revisiting conversations with people where we second guess our words.   Focused internally on our worries, we can be out in nature and notice nothing. 

I am going to share a new painting and how my connecting with nature inspires my works of art. I welcome your thoughts on this subject.   
"Autumn View from Mohonk Mt. House Carriageway"
16x20 watercolor

I caught sight of this breathtaking vista while walking on a Carriage Road at the Mohonk Mountain House resort in New Paltz, N.Y. I immediately was drawn to paint it.  I loved the bright yellow tree and the flaming reds that the Blueberry leaves turn in the Fall.  I wanted to capture the white rocks, contrasting with the dark green Pines and the sense of being on top of the world looking way out into the distance.   I was on a hike with a friend that day, so had to settle for taking photos instead of painting on location.  It is that first glance at something striking, that catching of my breath that is the impetus for me to paint.  To capture a piece of this in a painting is like taking home a part of nature, an attempt to recreate that moment of joy.  

This painting derived from that moment; the memory of it preserved with the photos taken that day.   For one reason or another, it did not get painted in the Fall.  Instead, the drawing has been on my watercolor block for months awaiting the next stage.  Last week I finally picked it up and started it, which is is how I found myself today reliving fall in the dead of winter.  I hope you enjoyed  "Autumn View from Mohonk Carriageway".  

To see more of my paintings or purchase originals, prints or cards, visit my website at