Snow Days

My little place in this world is covered in snow again. As I struggled with the flu a couple of weeks ago it became warm and all the snow melted away before Christmas. It all just didn't feel right! I began to feel better and then freezing temperatures and a few flurries came on Christmas Eve. Beginning on New Year's Day the snow officially returned. The fresh snow is one of the things I am grateful for in 2014.

I have been enjoying looking at art work online that captures the beauty of winter and this snowy season. A friend recently posted art work done in the early 1900's by Wladyslaw Jarocki on facebook and I found his work beautiful. I love the contrast of the whites, greys, browns and blues of the landscape with the brightly colored scarves and embroidery accents on the traditional clothing of his Polish highlander subjects. I want to give away my black, nylon covered jacket for sheepskin, fleece lined, embroidered coats, woolen stockings, leather boots, long heavy skirts and colorful scarves and dress like these beautiful highland women.

Władysław Jarocki, Żółta chustka oil, canvas
Wladyslaw Jarocki, "Winter Sun", oil on canvas, 69.5 x 99 cm, private collection
Wladyslaw Jarocki, "Hunter in Winter", 1915, oil on plywood, 98 x 67 cm, private collection
This past holiday season I was particularly inspired by eclectic paintings and other works of art posted by a blogger at A Polar Bear's Tale. The art work posted there is so special. There are illustrations, fine paintings, crafted items and photographs to be enjoyed. All the images chosen for this blog seem infused with magic, beauty and nostalgia. The posts cover themes and the art work reflects the seasons and holidays. I enjoyed looking at this blog over Christmas more than watching a holiday movie or tv program. If you enjoy looking at lovely works of art that reflect the magic of a season I suggest that you head over to A Polar Bear's Tale to scroll through the treasures there.

And finally since this is the first post of the New Year I think gratitude is the word for 2014. I started a gratitude jar and before going to sleep I will write down on a piece of paper a moment of beauty from the day for which I am grateful. On New Year's Eve this upcoming year I will read about all the positive things that filled up 2014. Among other things, I am grateful for the love of my family and friends, the return of snow, celebrating Christmas again with my mom and dad who came up to visit on New Year's Day bearing beautifully wrapped gifts, birds chirping and singing outside on a walk and nearby my bird feeders and the kisses of my 18 month old, cutie-pie of a boy, Kazmir.

gifts on New Year's Day with snow just beginning to fall outside

garden in snow

My house in the snow

New India Ink Paintings of Winter Trees And Thoughts About My Creative Process...

I painted these two pieces with india ink and water on newsprint with the intention of loosening up and with the hopes of  feeling less attached to the outcome of the creative process.  The images are 18" x 24" and a bit bigger than what I've been producing.  There is something freeing in knowing that if you do not like what you are making you can just crumble up the paper and throw it in the wood stove.  There is also something freeing about producing more work and focusing on the practice rather than focusing on the result or product.

I am becoming aware that I need to practice freeing up my creative process.  I have the tendency to move slow and put a lot of energy towards individual pieces, exercises and materials.  It's almost like I'm too focused on the end results.  I'm realizing that this kind of approach to my practice whether it's making visual images, practicing the piano or singing makes the flow more cumbersome.  To get better at anything you have to exercise the brain and muscles and therefore repetition is the key.  Yet I am fighting this habit/personality trait of mine.  I become attached to the idea that the end result should be good or interesting.  Notice the phrase, "should be".  These words and thoughts are rarely helpful. I expect too much and put pressure on myself.

What's really interesting is how this edge is continually coming up for me, even as I try to do a sketch, a doodle, a drawing, or a painting a day as a practice with no expectations.    Last night as I produced my sketch of the day I squirmed as the image came out.  It was an image of a female figure and, man, I quickly judged it as "eww, ugly, yuk, why am I doing this!?" Yes, it really is not very good but I need to get comfortable knowing that some drawings, exercises, work, sounds, ideas are just going to be that way.  I am quick to judge myself.  I'm getting to know this side of me.  It's there. Maybe this tendency of mine will always be there but perhaps I am capable of living with it more comfortably by gently steering my focus towards strengthening the muscles of detached productivity and repetition.

I have a third "Winter Tree" composition which was made around the same time as the above two. I just put some color on it and I also made some value adjustments.  I will post the third piece later this week as right now the water color is drying and I am not with my home computer to upload photo's of the new image to this blog.