The holidays are drawing near, and as you sip your hot cocoa, take a minute to admire this beautiful vintage postcard from Normandy. The clouds in the sky and snow-covered banks disappear into the page as men, women, and children gather at the chapel. In contrast to the blustery snow, the yellow light of the chapel seems so warm and welcoming. To me, the chapel is what makes the card so intriguing. The traditional architecture of this chapel is so quaintly painted onto the page that it looks real and, in fact, it is real! The editors of Normandy Then and Now found this postcard and traced its muse to Chapelle Saint Vincent in Launay, Normandy. The architectural features of the chapel give it an almost mystical and magical quality. Its blue steeple, with matching blue stained-glass windows, is nestled in between wood framing and bright orange bricks all supported by thick layers of stone. With its charming features, it’s no wonder that the artist made it a subject for their painting. Hidden architectural gems like Chapelle Saint Vincent can be found all over the world. But you don’t have to live near a historical masterpiece like this to create beautiful artwork. This holiday season, take in the beauty of your surroundings, both from architecture and nature, to enjoy the gorgeous gifts God has given us.
One way I have found to appreciate my surroundings is to sketch and paint. In admiration of our winter postcard above, find a building, maybe one you care about, to base your painting around. I chose to paint the house I am living in for the next few weeks in the mountains of Virginia.
Once you have sketched out your scene, start to paint. Fill your paintbrush with water and loosely paint brown shapes across the horizon that will later become trees. Add purple to your brown mixture and use the same brush to paint airy clouds in the sky and shadows in the snow. Continue to deepen your shadows by adding blue to snow and sky and darker browns to the trees. These colors create a loose baseline that blends into the snow before you start adding detail. Now start to block in the colors of the buildings or figures of your scene. In my case, I began to paint the red bricks of the house, the browns stones or the outdoor chimney, and the bright red car bringing a Christmas tree up the steep road. Once the light brown has dried from the previous step, use a dark brown to paint the bare trees.
Now use your smallest, most precise brush to add charming details to your scene. I painted a glowing red fire in the chimney. Smoke billows out of both the outdoor chimney and the indoor fireplace, birds rest in the trees and fly in the sky, and bright red berries dance across the page. I added darker shades to the trunks and branches of the trees. If you are having trouble with getting precise details with paint, don’t be afraid to use another medium. I lightly went in with some colored pencils to draw the bricks of the house and chimney as well as textures on the car and Christmas tree. Finally, I added the finishing touch of flakes of snow now falling from the sky with white pigment.
I would love to see your holiday scenes. Send them to me via email at email@example.com or Instagram @emcardsandcreations
“Hidden Heritage in Normandy.” Normandy Then and Now, 18 Dec. 2017, https://www.normandythenandnow.com/hidden-heritage-in-normandy/.