For most of the United States, especially east of the Rocky Mountains, winter has made its presence quite evident. Snowfalls have broken historic records and our dependence on public utilities has been severely tested. Hopefully the worst is over and for those of you adversely affected, life is getting back to normal.
The February issue of The Pastel Journal, with its theme on painting snow, couldn’t be more appropriate. This inspiring issue, filled with great information on how diverse pastelists paint snow and find inspiration during these months of winter, has been of special interest the past week. Whether you consider yourself a landscape painter or not, the white stuff has had its influence. If you haven’t found time to check out the current issue, be sure to pickup a copy.
Working this winter in my studio has reminded me of an issue that affects most painters but isn’t often discussed: environmental influences. Even though our studios are removed from the sensory effect of the weather, time of year, and locale, it cannot be denied that they provide an influence on our work. This milieu, often unrecognized, leaves us confused as to why the motivation to paint a certain scene is gone. Painting a scene of a hot summer landscape may be near impossible in the mist of a severe winter storm. Traveling to exotic locales can be inspiring but prove difficult to paint after returning home. When there, the inspiration was high. There was clarity and passion. Once home, the motivation wanes. As inspiring as a desert setting may be while on a trip, it’s hard to live at the beach and paint the desert.
Our environments have an effect. Embracing this can help to make us more productive, inspired and ultimately successful. There’s more involved than the “how to” of the painting. The way we feel and what stimulates our senses plays its part along with the mechanics of technique. With winter’s strong presence right now, it may be best to embrace the season and understand the influence it’s having on our painting. Spring is right around the corner with renewal and optimism and then the dilemma of how to handle green will re-emerge—it’s always something! To everything—turn, turn, turn. There is a season—turn, turn, turn.
MORE RESOURCES FOR ARTISTS