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It's a Snow Day!

I spy snowdrops and blossom out my Surrey window. Each tiny flower bringing the promise of warmer weather ~ but don't forget ~ winter can still creep up behind us and deliver a frosty bite!

If there is one thing that is certain about living in the UK it is the definite uncertainty of what the weather is going to do next ~ sometimes you can have all four seasons wrapped up in just one day. So it is no wonder that it seems to be a national obsession! So in recognition of our national quirk our next watercolour project won't just have you painting up a storm, but an outright blizzard!

Living in the South of England, snowfall is pretty much unpredictable and almost always a surprise. This is in direct contrast with our inspiration photo which features the New York City skyline. Winters in New York can be typically 10 degrees cooler than London (despite London being nearer to the North Pole) so snow is a regular event.

I have always had a fascination for skyscrapers, particularly the Empire State building, which is probably why I took about a hundred photographs of it (from every possible angle) when I visited on my Honeymoon! However the one thing which really drew my eyes were the funny little structures dotted around on the rooftops. There was just something about their old fashioned appearance and general look of decay that piqued my interest (if you have read any of my other posts ~ I do love the beauty of the old, rusty, broken and forgotten). These funny little 'spaceships' are water towers and until I started researching them for this project I assumed that they were mostly derelict. However, to my surprise, I discovered that most of them are actually still functioning and remain crucial in supplying water to the residents of NY. In fact there are 1500-1700 of these wooden tanks dotted around the city rooftops.

Introduced back in the late 1800's to improve living conditions, their design remains much unchanged. I had always assumed these enormous tanks (10 000 gallons) were made of metal - but metal would prove much heavier and far more expensive ~ so they are made of wood (often Western Red Cedar) and as such, when filled they swell and become water tight, just like a barrel. The wood also acts as an insulator and stops the water from freezing in the harsh winter months! Even more surprising was my discovery that all of the water towers of NY are regularly maintained by just 3 family businesses ~ all of which, have been looking after these essential structures for over 100 years!

To begin our water tower we will first use some resist so that the paper remains white. We will use masking fluid to add the settles snow on the buildings and then use a combination of wax and oil pastel to add the falling snow. For this you can add as much snow as your heart desires! Both the wax and the oil will resist your paint ~ but you will only discover the full effect once you add paint across the top.

We will add colour onto the buildings using a muted palette over a pale grey background wash.

We can also add a little bit of sponging to add the creeping foliage onto the building.

Once complete you can even choose to add some paint spatter if you need even more snow!

To find out more about this project, take a look at the short video below.

I really hope you enjoy this one and don't forget ~ if you're ever in New York ~ don't forget to look up!

Happy Painting!

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