A special edition January Masterclass over 3 weeks
The extra element of SNOW This year in miniature
(In subsequent years in oils and Chinese painting)
Once and not repeated (unlike the core elements classes)
You’ll need a teastained page pre-prepared for this class
Snow is rare in miniatures yet it does exist. We think of the heartlands of miniature painting as hot countries - indeed they are - yet in the mountains and northerly regions of Persia and India snowfall is regular. Warriors huddled together in the snow, or long-finished deserted battles, covered over with a lacing of snow that seems to finalise it all - the element of snow is a watery one, of course, but related also the the air since it falls more slowly, softly and silently than rain. It creeps up on us; we can sense a heavy, pregnant brooding sky and snow clouds hanging in the air. On a midwinter’s morning children excitedly tear back the curtains just in case - and are sometimes surprised by a dusting of the beautiful white stuff layered over everything. Ultimately it feels ethereal, wondrous and magical since snow is indiscriminate and falls wherever there is a ready surface, horizontal especially and also diagonal roofs, hills and mountains, creating a blanket painting by itself. One imagines Orhan Pamuk’s snowy streets of Istanbul, skiing in the Caucasus and - possibly - levitating over Shangri-La in the Himalayas. In subsequent years we’ll cover snow in oil painting in the great genre tradition of winter paintings (Avercamp et al): ice skating and thin icy reflections included as well as the incomparably thick, fluffy texture of white oil paint. And we’ll end this trilogy with Chinese contemplative snow - the white of the paper itself - and think of a steaming cup of tea taken in a warm teahouse laden with snow while looking at the moon. For now, this time your teastained page will set off the white wintry density of opaque watercolours, as used across miniature manuscript painting, in turn making the colours pop like the surprise blossoming of overnight snow. It’s a lovely contrast which I never get tired of and I look forward to painting this reason to love the midwinter season. Here’s to snow, and tea, and keeping warm and cosy during the coldest part of the year in the northern hemisphere. Paladins in the snow. Stay safe and well, everyone!