Almost 2 feet of snow and 2 blizzards over the past 5 days, I observed many "white out" views of the landscape. Snow covers the ground, insulating and simplifying forms and, at times, abstracting the landscape. The near "white out" conditions muted the color and also aided to simplify the value shapes.
In both my watercolor and pastel classes, I spend the first day of a session explaining (and often trying to convince beginning painters) the value of value sketching. For me, the "dreaded" value sketch is fundamental to the success of a painting. I am a value painter first versus a colorist. I use the sketch to evaluate and simplify shapes, identify composition structures, and describe, literally, the black and white design of the composition. The subject and details are not what it is important in this exercise, nor the representation of the landscape. I am simply testing the underlying design and value shapes created from solid masses of value.
The above exercise was done on white pastel paper using a method of constructing and deconstructing shapes with black pastel stick and various erasers.