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Brian LaSaga shares with us his secrets to capturing snow in a realistic way.
By Susan Byrnes
Drift, crust, powder—there are many words to describe the characteristics of snow. In St. George’s, Newfoundland, where the average annual snowfall is 155 inches, acrylic artist Brian LaSaga can be found carefully observing these characteristics that he later translates into paintings that are spectacularly detailed. Not only is LaSaga a keen observer of snow, he’s a lifelong student of the natural environment during every season in his native province.
LaSaga’s body of work consists of intimate land, water, sky, and snow scenes that often feature elements of human presence or natural processes. His paintings, which are centered on the familiar, native, raw, sacred, and untamed, reveal a quiet reverence of the wild and tamed and the touched and undisturbed beauty of his sparsely-populated surroundings.
A common occurrence, such as sunlight on snow, can be a clue to a unique moment. Winter FirThe small tree with its sunlit icicle, or those in Whiskey and WoodWith its side-lit jaybird and woodpile. Decaying items such as the car in Winter Relic Serve as a visual complement to the natural elements such as snow and water.
LaSaga does not think of white when they think of snow. For him, snow is alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Phthalo Blue, and Dioxazine Purple. And yellow. “I always use yellow in snow,” he says. “I have to—very subtly—because of the sunlight.” He prefers Hansa yellow combined with small amounts of white, blue, orange, purple, and sometimes red.
LaSaga uses dioxazine violet to tone down the yellow in his paintings for rendering shadows. To create the illusion of blowing snow as in Winter WoodpileBecause less detail is needed to paint light, fluffy, white snow, he uses a softer, more scumbled brush. As less detail is required to paint light, fluffier snow, he uses a soft brush. Winter Relic, above. In Below the Hill, which depicts areas with dirty, frozen snow, a more sharp brush is used to paint larger chunks of the ice.