Sunday, January 13, 2013

Skiing and Sketching

I spent a few days visiting with family and friends this week at my mom's place at Alpine Lake, near Terra Alta, West Virginia. I took advantage of all the snow they've had in the past few weeks and went out cross-country skiing several times while I was there. I brought home a nice reminder of my fun visit, a completed page in my 9x12 sketchbook. (Aquabee Super Deluxe 9" x 12" sketchbook. Colors used: ultramarine blue, permanent rose, carmine, yellow ochre, cadmium yellow medium, burnt umber, burnt sienna, Payne's grey, & quinacridone violet)

(Click to enlarge)
8-1/2" x 12", ink & watercolor

The first morning was blustery and overcast, with not another soul in sight as I headed out across the snow-covered golf course. I carried my sketchbook and pen in a small backpack, hoping to do a sketch or two along the way, but it was a lot windier and colder than I had realized. I had to wait until I found a sheltered spot to take a break and attempt a sketch. Drawing with heavy winter gloves on is challenging, but the alternative was frozen fingers, so I opted for the gloves. A quick pen and ink sketch of the guard shack at the resort entrance was all my fumbling fingers could manage before I needed to get moving again to warm up.

Detail, 6" x 3-1/2"

The red flag on the 17th green looked so jaunty waving in the wind; I thought it would make a nice addition to my page. It only took a minute or two to get down the basic lines, then I finished it later with watercolor at home.

Detail, 3-1/2" x 3-1/2"

My ski poles are from my college days, back when cross-country skis were actually made of wood, and we used wax to keep from sliding backwards down a hill. I think it might finally be time to replace them, but I'll be kind of sad to see them go. Those poles were with me when I skied into the wilderness of the Colorado Rockies in three feet of snow with a 35 pound pack on my back!

Detail, 4" x 4"

This last sketch was drawn later in the week, on a sunny day when everything was bright and sparkling. I took my time skiing along the lake, pausing occasionally just to look and listen, appreciating the beauty and the quiet.

Detail, 6" x 3"

The frozen lake bed began to thaw later that day and by the time I headed home patches of grass were showing on the hilltops. It's only a temporary respite from winter though - spring's a long way off. That's okay. I enjoy each season for what it brings. (And painting snow is a lot easier than summer foliage!)


  1. What a wonderful souvenir to take back from your cross country ski trip. your own painted memory poster. I love the way you painted the boot & your broken ski pole stuck together with tape.

  2. wow.. Love this page. I am impressed..all that sketching with it being so cold and remembering what color things were when back home. Its been YEARS since I last skied. Never did cross country skiing tho..Fun memory.

    1. I snapped a photo of each scene as a reference to paint from, but that first day was so gray and overcast that there weren't any shadows, so things were really flat looking. I just ended up adding some pinks and blues and suggestions of shadows to give the sketches a little life.

      I used to downhill ski a lot when I was in college in Colorado, but haven't done it for years. I think I've come to prefer the slower pace of cross-country skiing.

  3. I admire your persistance to sketch in the cold. I first learned to cross country ski on wooden wax skiis... I love your poster on skiing. I've still never painted snow, so for me it doesn't seem easy.

  4. PS Thank you for visiting my blog. I enjoyed your comment, Leslie...

    1. I LOVE your sketches, Rita, and have added your blog to my "Blogs I enjoy" list in the right-hand column. I'm hoping my readers will stop by to see some of your delightful work.

    2. Thank you, Leslie! I am delighted because you are such an inspiration to me.! Happy sketching, Rita.

  5. Your work is beautiful, Leslie! All those little, adorable details are fun to look at!

  6. Absolutely fabulous page. I too used to cross-country ski and it has been years since I've done it. The excitement in your page makes me want to go give it a try again! Wonderful composition!!

  7. Get out there and give it a try, Claire. It's so much fun to glide across the snow. And I love to stop and just listen to the quiet. Everything is muffled by the snow - it has such a calming effect on me.


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