"bright white light broke through the gathering snow" – artist Stephen Rooney on his wonderful watercolour snowscape
I am so glad to be welcoming back Stephen Rooney to the guest blog spot. In a cynical age where art is often seen as a commodity, it is so refreshing to read of the raw inspiration that Stephen finds in nature, here in particular during the early 2015 snow blizzards in the Mountains of Mourne. For me, it recalls Wordsworth – the idea of hiking out into the wildnerness, facing nature, and the pantheistic divine driving the instinctive urge to create.
“To be an Artist, I believe you have a calling in particular. Something which you may feel is only happening because you’re here, because it distinctly wants, or needs you to paint it! Just like in many other aspects of life, there are certain things we just have to do!
For me, painting the Snow is just one of those things – and right up there as my top favourite subject to paint. Ever since I was a little boy I had to be out in the thick of the snow, once it would start falling, and over the years many things have changed in my life, but not the wanting to be out in the Snow.
Over the years, my love for Snow has only gone from strength to strength, and so too has the sense of connection – like I know it! Like the Snow is actually somebody very dear to me, whom I lost a couple of years back. So, not only is the Snow pretty to look at, pretty to paint, but for me, more importantly, Snow to me is a God send. It has an affect on me which brings me closer to the Heavens, and all my Angels, which no Church can provide. From a Young age, snow always had my love, and I do believe it was the Snow which called me to be an Artist. As if I was put on this Earth solely to paint snow. Sounds silly – but to me, makes perfect sense!
This Watercolour is a view near to my Home. I live where the beautiful Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the Sea, in SE Down, Northern Ireland. They’re a small range of Mountains, but their beauty could rival most Mountains ranges of the World! This winter I have walked and hiked these Mountains in all weather conditions, but mainly the Snow. The view is from the slopes of Slieve Binnian, looking towards Comedagh on the Northern edge of the Mourne range.
The inspiration came from my second hike in December just gone. I had been the afternoon before, right to the very top, in a white out Blizzard (not recommended) but I just had to go to welcome ‘home’ to me the first Snows of Winter. Obviously, in such conditions I could see nothing, so the next morning I trekked back up in the most beautiful winter light. It was just as I painted it here.
In the foreground were the long Ultramarine Shadows, cast down from the summit due to the low light, but off in the middle ground, a zone of bright white light broke through the gathering snow clouds, rolling in on a strong Northerly wind which was biting! Off towards the distant mountains the shadows came and went as the clouds hurtled past. I paused here for quite a few minutes to take it all in, and to snap a few photo’s before heading on to the summit.
This view stuck with me all this winter – and the beauty I had witnessed on that day, so just two days ago as snow showers blew in, I was inspired to paint this very scene, whilst standing at my room window as snow flurries fell. Part of me felt I was back up that summit on that wintry day! The whole painting worked so well, and I felt every stroke. I used a very limited palette of only three colours. (Ultramarine, Burnt Sienna, and Burnt Umbre)
The whites are the natural white of the paper, which I had just left and painted around. I never use masking fluid, nor do I mask any areas of my paper off with tape, and so on. I just leave my white areas and paint around them and let the whole thing take its course naturally, just as nature does Herself!
I hope you enjoy my Painting, and enjoy the read into the inspiration and passion behind it.”
Words and art: Stephen Rooney
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