Tag Archives: the muted colors of winter

Winter Garden: A Painting’s Progress

winter garden - copyright 2013 michaela harlowWinter Garden ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – Oil on Panel, 24″ x 24″

Winter is a beautiful season, to be certain. Snow, sleet and freezing rain add texture and sparkle to the skeletal landscape and garden surrounding my studio. I love the play of pale light as it bounces off ice and streams through the tawny blades of bleached grass and bare, twisted twigs. And yet for all of its wonder, winter is also a very difficult season here.

Living in New England during the winter months of January, February and March involves an extraordinary amount of work; particularly if you live atop a windy, 2,000′ ridge in the middle of a forest. Since Nemo, aka the blizzard of ’13, hit —bringing with it 18″ of new snow— my days have been consumed by shoveling, plowing, and moving snow banks with the tractor. These are necessary chores, of course, but terribly disrupting to my work; throwing off my rhythm and interrupting my painting’s progress and blog-posting schedule.

But here I am again, at last. It feels good to get back to work on something substantial.

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Rose Light

Rose Light  ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - Oil on Panel - 16 x 16 inchesRose Light ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 16″ x 16″, Oil on Floating Wood Panel

Sometimes the only color to be found in a February landscape, is the blushing sky at dusk and dawn. Perhaps it is because the weary canvas of brown and white can seem so bleak, I am particularly grateful for the rosy hues of sunrise on a winter morning.

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Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Thirty

We Waited for the Thaw ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 13.5 x 18, Pastel on Paper

 We Waited for the Thaw ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 13.5″ x 18″, Pastel on Paper

Mother Nature is prone to some wild mood swings, and the past twenty four hours have been particularly interesting here in southern Vermont. Yesterday’s evening fog gave way at nightfall, followed by torrential rain and high wind. I awoke to find branches and other debris all over the clearing, and much of the snow melted. Periods of thundersnow, sleet and rain continued, even when the sky opened up to blue heaven and blinding sunlight. It’s been quite a show.

I snuck outside between high gusts and wind-driven precipitation to explore the beauty of January thaw. Suddenly, deep, rich, water-saturated colors —emerging from beneath snow and ice— are revealed. This false spring will surely fade by the weekend, and bitter, cold weather will return. But for now, a moment of revelry . . .

We Waited for the Thaw ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow (in process)

We Waited for the Thaw ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 13.5″ x 18″ – Pastel on Paper

Today is day thirty of thirty straight days in the studio, and I can’t believe how fast the weeks have flown. Thanks so much to all of you for sending your encouraging words via comments, email or on the various social networks I’ve recently added to my blog feed. Your support is deeply appreciated. Knowing that the work is seen, felt, appreciated and enjoyed is a great reward for sharing my process during the month of January. The internet can be a terrible distraction sometimes, but more often, I find that it helps me to stay connected to the people I care about; especially during this solitary month, when I retreat into my own thoughts and world. This journal allows me to share what I’m doing and —thanks to my little stats counter— I know that I’m not alone! Thank you for following along.

My friend Jen emailed a really great letter to me the other day. With her permission, I want to share a little bit of it, because it really gets to the heart of why I share my work here online: “Yesterday, while out for a walk, I stopped on the bridge over a brook. Only a narrow, meandering ribbon of water still moved. Otherwise, the brook was iced in. The textures and colors and forms pleased my eyes and I thought of your paintings. I see the winter world in a different way because of your paintings”. What a great gift to give an artist. What wonderful thoughts to share with a friend. Thank you, Jen.

I will be focusing on oil painting next month, and I’ve decided to limit my blog posting commitment to twice weekly during February, as oil paintings take longer to complete than pastels. I am going to try out a Sunday and Thursday posting schedule, with the occasional extra bit —inspiration, sketches, process, art field trips— thrown in for variety. I also plan to update my website and online gallery —long overdue upgrades needed— so stay tuned for changes and more work!

Thank you again for being here and for all of your support!

Posted in Process, Seeing, Studio, Thirty-in-Thirty 2013, Work on Paper Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Thirty-in-Thirty: Day Twenty Nine

Barely a Memory Now ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - Pastel on PaperBarely a Memory Now ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 13″ x 18.5″, Pastel and Pencil on Paper

As January draws to a close, I find that I have to look longer and harder to find color. Yesterday —with hours of snow, ice and rain— the landscape was particularly muted. Today the thermometer is pushing 50 degrees fahrenheit, and my hilltop is shrouded in thick fog.

I do love the soft palette of winter —bleached-honey beech leaves, dusty-violet brambles, transparent turquoise ice— but sometimes when I look out at the blue-grey and violet-brown hills, I wonder… Were they ever green?

Barely a Memory Now ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow Barely a Memory Now ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 13″ x 18.5″, Pastel and Pencil on Paper

Posted in Process, Seeing, Studio Life, Thirty-in-Thirty 2013, Work on Paper Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |