Tag Archives: Winter Landscape (painting)

Thirty in Thirty, 2014: North Branch

North_Branch:Copyright_2014_Michaela_Harlow:pastel_on-paper:michaelaharlow.comNorth Branch, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – 20″ x 15″, pastel on paper (24″ x 19″) 

In this part of the world, there are a handful of days when you simply do not want to go outdoors. They have arrived. The cold is not simply cold —it is bone chilling. A friend of mine mentioned hearing the trees pop and crack. That sound, once you know it, defines the dead of winter.

Still, it is beautiful. And for the brave or foolhardy, sometimes the glow of dawn’s early blush —or perhaps the milky-blue of twilight— can have a magnetic pull. When I dare to set foot outside my studio, or pause just beyond my my car door, I am often rewarded with breathtaking beauty. And then there’s always the hot chocolate.

North_Branch_in_the_studio:Copyright_2014_Michaela_Harlow:michaelaharlow.com North Branch in my studio

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Thirty in Thirty, 2014: Ebb & Flow

ebb & flow - copyright michaelaharlow.comEbb & Flow, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – 20″ x 15″, pastel & pencil on paper (24″ x 19″) 

The broader landscape has been calling my name lately, and I feel the need to respond to its luminous, misty presence. There’s just something irresistible about backlit fog. Today, however was far from mild and milky. An arctic cold-blast has returned to New England and I am holed up inside the studio again.

On these cold, cold days, my mind often wanders off to golden light and warm colors.

ebb & flow in the studio - michaelaharlow.com

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Thirty in Thirty, 2014: Rose Ice

Rose Ice, 2014 - copyright Michaela Harlow - michaelaharlow.comRose Ice, 2014 – Michaela Harlow – 32″ x 16″, oil on panel

Ma vie en rose? So cold today, even the early morning sunlight reflected icy pink. Every wet surface has frozen solid now; polished like glass by wild winter wind.

This piece recalls last year’s ‘Winter Nude’ group. I’d intended to continue the series in oil, but ran out of time. Today I was pulled back by a polar vortex. Sometimes, I suppose, Mother Nature must be cruel to be kind. It is indeed harsh outside —with a biting windchill, well below zero— but for the brave-hearted and tightly-bundled, the reward of cold weather wandering is spectacularly beautiful.

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Thirty-in-Thirty, Day Twenty Eight: Little Left from Before

 Little Left from Before ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - 13 x 18.5 Pastel on PaperLittle Left from Before ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 13″ x 18.5″, Pastel on Paper

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Today was especially grey, and especially productive. I started early and finished today’s piece “Little Left from Before”, and started on another pastel painting, which I expect to complete by early tomorrow.

A few weeks ago, my friend Jeanne stopped by for a visit, and while showing her around I mentioned that I was about to start my thirty-in-thirty project, and that the winter tends to be the most productive season in my studio. This has always been true —even when working full-time as an artist— and it has become even more so now that I am working more hours outside of the studio as a garden designer.

Later, Jeanne sent me this article —“The Longest Nights”— by Timothy Egan for the The New York Times blog, The Opinionator. I was fascinated —but not altogether surprised— to read that winter is a very productive time for many creative people; including artists, writers and others. Given how common the phenomenon seems to be, I’m surprised that more hasn’t been written on the subject. I’m curious. What is your experience?

Little Left from Before ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow - Pastel on PaperLittle Left from Before ⓒ 2013 Michaela Harlow – 13″ x 18.5″, Pastel on Paper

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