Winter, Hot Cocoa, and Art

As an artist, wintertime affects me differently than any other time of year. Outdoor easle work takes on unique challenges and the indoor studio becomes more welcoming. The changes in outdoor lighting and temperature affect my artistic choices. The sun, despite the change in season, can remain an enchanting theme for a portrait, as it rises or sets on these wintry crisp days. Regretfully, I set up my easle to experience the glorious winter sun via my window, where its bright sunlight warms me, inside as well as out. Although not the same as a physical setting outdoors, I am nonetheless enthused to see the sun shine through my window, splay across the now-sleeping trees, or shimmer off the early morning frost that slowly melts away. With a seasonal change in mindset, I can allow winter to become inspirational in its own right, suitable for my creativities.

It is December and its cool weather is an excellent time for me to work on projects long unfinished or to start new ones to fill the longer evenings. From experience, I know that cool temperatures and reduced oxygen levels in the air will cause oil paints to not set quite as quickly, so I am able to work longer alla prima, or wet-into-wet, than in the hottest days of summer. What I see determines my pigment choices: the colors of the outdoors are purer in winter, even though the color palette is a more limited one.

For many people, winter slows down the rapid frenzy of the preceding days and months. Outdoor chores are fewer, and it is easier to find time to enjoy the simpler things: hot cocoa, warmed blankets, our pets and our families. As an artist, winter gives me distance from the artistic hubbub of contests, fairs and shows, and it permits me to prepare new crafts and paintings to present over the following (and busier) seasons of spring and summer. And, like many of my nonartist associates, I watch with cheerful anticipation the approach of another New Year.

Charity Goodwin, Artist

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