The creative process: “A Winter Day”

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Periodically, over the next several weeks, I will be showing and explaining the creative process behind several of my recent paintings now being exhibited at Southwest Gallery in Dallas. They are being highlighted until the end of June in a show titled, “Local Masters”, which also features the work of my friend, John Cook.

The first painting discussed is, “A Winter Day”. Let me say first off, as artists we need to paint those things of which we’re passionate. They will be our best paintings. I’m not a big advocate of creating paintings for what we perceive to be the “market”. There are always exceptions of course, and in those cases we must always strive to do our best, but generally speaking…don’t think “market”. I have found over the years that there is a buyer out there somewhere for just about every painting we do.

All that is just a side note, meant as an encouragement to you to paint from the heart.


Reference photo


“A Winter Day” began to percolate as a possible painting idea while looking through photo files, and former color studies, for inspiration. Taken in the 1980’s, (remember the 3″ x 5″ prints?), I found the lighting, snow, farmhouse, composition, and country setting to be appealing.

One of the color studies I came across was this one from 2014, done in gouache.

Color study using white, ultramarine blue, cadmium red, yellow - 4.5" x 6" - Gouache

Color study using white, ultramarine blue, cadmium red, yellow – 4.5″ x 6″ – Gouache


Deciding at this point to pursue the idea, a square format was selected; why square? First, it tightened up the scene, making it more compact and intimate; secondly, it’s something different than the typical horizontal format used for landscapes.

Composition and value sketch with grid for enlargement. 3.75" x 3.75" - Felt marker

Composition and value sketch with grid for enlargement. 3.75″ x 3.75″ – Felt marker


Snow scenes are generally of high contrast, therefore they provide an interesting variety of possible interpretations. With composition and value finalized, a color palette was selected; this was followed by a color study to confirm the choice.

Color study - 4.5" x 4.5" - Acrylic (Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium)

Color study – 4.5″ x 4.5″ – Acrylic   (Titanium White, Ultramarine Blue, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium)


When painting snow, look for color and temperature changes. Seldom or never is white from the tube the appropriate white. Snow is affected by its surroundings. Use colors from other area of the painting when painting snow. It will really help harmonize your painting.

"A Winter Day" - 12" x 12" - Oil

“A Winter Day” – 12″ x 12″ – Oil


Available through Southwest Gallery.



I am very pleased to announce the release of my first instructional DVD, Limited Palette Landscapes, professionally produced by Liliedahl Art Videos. The video contains over 15 hours of instruction and follows my painting process from selection of the canvas to the final brush stoke. For a detailed description of the video contents, including a short video…and order instructions…please click HERE. Thank you in advance for adding this DVD to your video library. Upon viewing, if you would kindly share your comments with me, I would greatly appreciate it. THANK YOU.


John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Associate Living Master

To view his art and bio, please click HERE


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