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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Watercolor Leaves: For Sale at Society 6!

Watercolor Fall LeavesHi Friends! Happy October!

You might remember this painting from March, when I posted it for the first time. Now it, along with some of my other work, is available as a print here:

https://society6.com/jacqueomanclinton

I just started with Society 6, so not all my work is up yet. Be sure to keep checking back to see what’s new as I continue to add more stuff! (And spread the word to anyone you think might be interested).

Hope you enjoy this beautiful season. I love October, and I’m determined not to let a second of it pass me by 🙂

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Watercolor Painting: Fall Leaves

Here’s something that has been a long time coming, but after many interruptions and distractions, it’s finally complete! Prints of it will be available on Etsy soon, but if you are interested in buying one, let me know!

Leaves_9x12

Now perhaps it’s time to move on to a piece that is a bit more seasonally appropriate.

 

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Spring Preview: Iris Watercolor Painting

I’m about to head up to Vermont to go skiing for a week, but before I do, I want to leave you with a little reminder of what there is to look forward to in the coming months.

SPRING! It’s coming, I promise. And with it, flowers!

…like this iris that I painted in watercolor…

Iris

So do not despair! Put your winter coat back on and tough it out for a few more weeks. Soon, Nature will unveil what she’s been working on these last few months. She’s a superb artist, after all. And generous one, since after she reveals her fine artwork, all us little human artists get to copy it and use it as inspiration for our own “creations”.

 

 

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Illustration Friday: Twisted

The theme for this week’s Illustration Friday is “Twisted”. So here is a pen and ink illustration of some Ring-Tailed Lemurs!

IllustrationFriday_Lemurs_2According to Wikipedia, male ring-tails “will participate in stink fights by impregnating their tail with their scent and wafting it at opponents.” How…fun…

I also learned that ring-tails are very social, intelligent, and adorable. I spent a lot of time looking at pictures of them today — I just couldn’t stop! They’re so funny looking! If you’re ever feeling gloomy after too many days of winter, I highly recommend Googling ring-tails. It will lift your spirits.

Now I want to snuggle with one…

…or five or six.

 

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Commissioned Painting: Steel Mill

Earlier this year, I was commissioned to do a custom painting of a steel mill for a client who spent over 20 years working in the steel industry. This turned out to be an excellent opportunity to try my hand at a subject matter FAR different than my usual nature paintings. After weeks of painting and watching YouTube videos of steel mills in action (no, I didn’t have the luxury of touring a real mill for this project), I came up with a final product. And I have to say, I’m happy with the result. More importantly, so is my client!

Commissioned Painting: Steel Mill

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Happy December

Sometimes, I feel silly that all the work I show you on this blog is so basic. I worry that I’m letting you all down by not posting weekly fine art masterpieces, rich in detail and impressive technique. Because, truth be told, I DO make a fine “masterpiece” now and again.  Just check this guy out, for example:

Durer_Cat

(I call this “The Happiest Cat in the World”. This is a painting I did in college. The assignment was to appropriate and combine elements from two different famous paintings to create an entirely new composition. I combined a self portrait by Albrecht Durer and “Portrait of Mademoiselle Julie Manet with cat” by Pierre-Auguste Renoir).

But honestly, what makes that more a “masterpiece” than the doodles and quickies I like to share with you from week to week?

Take this for example:

Snow_Snuggle

Don’t you want to be one of these people? I know I do! (Oh wait, I AM one of these people). Doesn’t it make you feel a bit warmer, perhaps a tad more relaxed?

So there, this simple illustration is effective as a piece of art that evokes a human response — it’s as much a “masterpiece” as my paintings that take hours and hours and require the “technical skills” of Durer the German master. (Not that I can compare myself to Durer. He didn’t get the luxury of working from photographs, for one thing…)

In conclusion, I leave you with some advice:

Sometimes, simpler is better.

Remember that this month if you find yourself stressing out instead of celebrating the joy of the holiday season.

 

 

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Out of Season

Here’s a maple leaf I painted in the fall.  Consider it a reminder that although summer has finally arrived in all it’s glory, it’s not going to last forever.  And that’s okay, because fall is beautiful, too!  But while it’s here, enjoy the lush greenness of summer before it passes by.

Maple Leaf

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