Snow is a divided issue in our household. Living with 2 hardcore skiers the lack of snow this winter and the balmy temperatures are a big disappointment for them. On the other hand, I have become less able to tolerate the cold in midlife and I have never been much for snow sports. As a kid, I always prided myself, growing up in northwestern Connecticut, about not wearing a winter jacket. All I needed was sweaters. Now I’m wearing my warmest jacket already and the cold hasn’t really hit yet. Maybe my stint living in south east Asia thinned my blood. Anyway, I don’t look forward to snow or winter for that matter.
Yet, to say that winter doesn’t inspire me, wouldn’t really be true. I was driving around today noticing the beauty in the subtleties of burnt umber branches against a lavender gray sky or how the deep teal of an evergreen looked against the side of a sage green house. It is a very limited palette out there and it evokes a sort of romantic melancholy in me. I have always envied painters who have embraced winter and made beautiful work inspired by it. Especially snow.
I saw a wintry painting by Winslow Homer at The Clark Art Institute last year that took my breath away. The simplicity of the geometries and the loose application of cool over warm had a sensuality I would never have assigned to snow. The fleetingness of the sleigh about to disappear over the crest of the hill in the moonlight left me with an aching nostalgia for sledding the wintry hills of my New England childhood.
So maybe the subtle colors of winter have a place on my palette. Sometimes I feel like I filter my sensorial surroundings with a sort of unconscious osmosis and then suddenly I reach a place of saturation where I am struck by something I never before thought was beautiful. It sort of sneaks up on you and BOOM. You have to paint it. Until next time, don’t make too many rules for yourself based on preference. CREATE.