Warm house, cold painting

When we moved here two years ago in January we were convinced it was going to be cold for the next few years.  Our seating options at the time consisted of two office chairs with wheels, which when sat in would transport you to the far corner of our tilting floor.  Two years later our apartment finally feels like home, thanks to David running around with a caulk gun and shrink wrap, and our awesome new couch and chair that arrived last weekend.

Here’s David enjoying being king of the living room:

And the couch in a rare moment with no one curled up on it:

While David’s been busy making the place warmer I’ve been working on this chilly scene from October in Vermont:

I’m pretty happy with this one.  I worked hard on two things: keeping the edges soft and mixing whites.  I think it has a nice intensity that comes from minimizing details and sharp edges, and getting the light right on the houses.  To keep the edges soft I painted very thinly (so much for overcoming my fear of thick paint).  In some places the paint is rubbed in very dry, while in others it’s a thin glaze.  The house on the right, for example, is just a thin layer of white that lets the underpainting show through, giving the house a weathered look:

When I set this painting next to the previous one I suddenly realized what was wrong with the old one.  Although the brushstrokes in the last painting were much thicker and freer it always looked kind of flat to me.  What I realized was that in this painting, the brightest shapes are the roofs that are slanted towards you.  They are brighter than the sky.  Which means the light must be coming from the sky behind you— which is the sky in the first painting, taken facing the other direction.

I brightened the sky on the right just a hair, but it makes the hillside pop out and gives drama to the sky.  It also provides a source for the light on the buildings.  With a few other adjustments (adding more gray tot he hillside, more darks to the sides, and simplifying the shapes in the foreground), I am happier with this one too.  Here’s the old version for comparison: