Sometimes, I feel like a walking contradiction living in Ohio with its often harsh winters. I am not “built” for cold weather, and the thought of going outside to be one with nature when the air is frigid makes me slightly panicked. But, nonetheless, I love the season. See where the contradiction comes in? I love rosy cheeks, snowmen, snowball fights, holiday lights and, of course, hot chocolate. But what I love most of all are winter landscapes.
Although not as vibrant as spring, as breathtaking as the changing leaves of fall or as invigorating as summer, winter landscapes are just as awe-inspiring with strong textures that seem to perfectly complement the subdued earthy color palette this season brings — from bare branches against a fresh snowfall to the heavy glow of an overcast sky at night.
Chilly Cityscape Strolls
Step was created from a photograph I took of my friend near the Washington Monument in Baltimore. Graphite on paper seemed to best represent the detail and mood of the day. It was extremely cold and the snow on the road made it muddy.
I want to show the interaction of the girl with the dreary chill of the scene. Also, the distance between her right foot and the ground is slight and delicate as she takes her next step. The choice to use gray instead of colors reinforces the atmosphere of the scene.
Serenity in Silence
Living in a rural area, I observe the patterns, shapes and textures in the landscape daily. One morning walk, the fog was so dense that it was hard to see beyond the immediate trees; the silence was overwhelmingly beautiful. I quickly did an on-site sketch and took some photos.
My idea was to recreate that quiet beautiful feeling, contrasting the smooth texture of the snow with the linear textures of the background trees. On an underpainting of hard pastel and a turpentine wash, I used dabs of cool white pastel, long linear strokes and the broad side of my pastel as well as the sharpened point of a hard pastel for the textures.
This is from an ongoing series of drawings. Beginning with a circular element, the composition is developed by adding and subtracting elements, lines, values and textures until an interesting image emerges.
Various techniques including incising, spraying and dripping, abrading and scraping are employed, in addition to smudging and erasing the surface. Because of the nature of the process, each one is an exercise in discovery. The final result is unknown until the image seems complete. Many of the drawings, in turn, suggest techniques and imagery for use in succeeding drawings.
My four-year-old daughter was so excited to plant her first giant sunflower seeds in the spring, to water them and to care for them until they reached well above her head. In the autumn when the petals dropped, the flowers drooped and the leaves fell to the ground. We thought the magic was over.
Snow came one night, and as we looked out in the morning light the dried flowers were covered in frost crystals. The magic had returned. Soon, little snowbirds arrived with the winter. We observed for months as they ate the seeds from my daughter’s sunflowers. A flower that bloomed a few short weeks later became a discovery to last a lifetime.
Strength in Contrast
In the winter months, many trees are without foliage, exhibiting their silhouettes against a contrasting white or gray sky. While I was snowshoeing in a local park, this tree caught my attention. The strength in the limbs and the stature of this tree were such a contrast against the misty white background.