Embracing the Beauty of Winter

I used to really dislike January. It was such a come-down after the cozy excitement of December and the holidays. With the flip of a calendar page, winter turned dark and oppressive instead of snuggly and warm. Year after year, I would wake up on January 1st and jump, headfirst, into a 2 month “time-suck” in which I could be found plodding along feeling uninspired, unmotivated, and uninterested in basically everything. I had no spark, and I beat myself up for it.

Over time, I’ve learned to value the art of acceptance. What a gift it has been! Now, instead of being so upset that short days make me tired, I accept it and move on. I’ve also realized that tiredness isn’t such a terrible thing. It’s temporary. It’s an invitation to rest and to think — to respect my connection to the cycling seasons and go at my natural pace. The tiredness of winter gets balanced out by the hyperactive energy I feel in the summer, and after enough years of experiencing this, I have learned to trust that cycle. I’ve also learned the important lesson that being tired doesn’t preclude me from doing art (or any of the things I love), nor does it prevent me from finding joy and beauty in the world.

So this year, I’m excited for January! I’m ready to be delighted by the subtle beauty of winter, and find inspiration where it lies. I’m particularly excited by the twigs and berries that sprinkle the gray world with texture and color. I am looking forward experimenting more with them in the months ahead.

This is my most recent pen and watercolor drawing of a crab apple branch. I love twigs. I hope to draw lots of them in 2016 (I’m not simple minded, right?).

Crabapple in WinterBelow  is a picture of the drawing in the early stages of the process. I liked it best at this stage, and feel sort of sad that I continued working on it from there. I find unfinished things so beautiful. I think they are more effective at expressing the experience of walking through the world, picking up bits and pieces of visual information, and assembling the fragments in incomplete memories to be recalled later. The finished drawings sometimes seem fake to me because I don’t see things that completely in my head. It can be hard to even look at artwork that I think I’ve taken “too far”. It’s like there’s nothing left for the imagination to fill in. It’s too…complete.
Crabapples in ProcessAnd here’s a picture from mid-way through. I’m still learning to not overwork things. It’s such a delicate balance. Thank goodness for another year to keep learning and growing!
Crabapples in Process 2
So, Happy New Year! I hope you find beauty and meaning in the unfolding of another year. There is much goodness to be found, every day. Keep your eyes and heart open – that’s what I’m planning to do!

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