Wednesday, November 17, 2010


Winter Barns
© Joanne Giesbrecht

I know it's coming - I can't avoid it. 

Cold temperatures, blustery storms, short days, long hours of darkness - winter! But this year, I have been thinking about the benefits of winter to artists, and so it keeps me optimistic. 

Here are seven reasons to actually welcome and enjoy winter if you are an artist (or even if you are not!):

1.    Cold days outside mean warm days in the studio.
Winter is a prime time for getting lots of work done in the studio. I can catch up on the year's paperwork before tax time, clean and purge what is no longer necessary or useful, read art related material, blog more, update my artist's data base, go through my photos for material and inspiration for new works, and paint more! Yes - it is the best time of the year for me to paint, and paint some more.

2.    No yard work to distract me!
The garden and flower beds are sleeping. They do not need me to tend to them. This is the least demanding time of year for people with yards. I COULD clean and sharpen garden tools, wash out clay pots, and plan what seeds to order for next year, but I prefer to do that when spring is in the air. In the dead of winter, it is time to paint the flowers and vegetables which grew in my garden during the summer.

3.    The most spectacular photos are waiting to be discovered.
I have taken many incredible photographs in the winter. This year, I can't wait to go to a new park I have discovered and get pictures of the snow heavy amongst the trees, lit by the low angle of winter's sun! I can make the trip a winter picnic, with a backpack containing a thermos of hot soup, some fruit and veggies, a bottle of water, and my camera gear. As long as I dress warmly enough, it should be an adventure! (I have heard that the Swiss say there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing!)

4.    I am going to try something NEW this winter!
My husband and I have cross-country skied in the past, but this winter we are going to try something new and exciting...we are going into the "back country" by snowshoe! We are going to take up a new sport and get some amazing experiences at the same time. When I am out in nature, I become more inspired and creative... so I paint better paintings. And as you know from my point above, there will be new photos to accompany and record the experiences. We are going to go to Kananaskis Provincial Park, which is in the mountains, just an hour away from us. Many of the trails we have hiked in the summer or cross-country skied are going to look different from a snowshoe perspective! I can hardly wait.

5.    Fire means something totally different.
 Because I live in the country amongst prairie grasses, fire is a huge threat, especially during the hot dry days of summer! The nearest fire station is not all that close, and wind complicates things. It always seems to be windy to some degree. About 5 years ago, a house that was less than a mile away burnt to the ground in the early evening. Even though the fire trucks did come, by the time they arrived, the house was totally engulfed in flames. All that could be done was to make sure the surrounding grass did not catch fire and destroy the acreage homes close by. Grass fires spread at an incredible speed, so we are always vigilant and rarely have a fire in an outside firepit. In winter, however, all those thoughts about fire change. Stoking a roaring fire in our wood burning fireplace and curling up beside it with my sketchbook or a good read is a joy! Warmth, a great cup of coffee, and reading or there's pleasure which includes my winter friend, fire!

6.    Time to experiment.
 Every other season seems to be rushed, busy, demanding. But on a silent winter's day, when all the world is covered under a blanket of snow, there is time to experiment. Experiment with new techniques, different media, altered perspectives. There is time to learn a new skill, to hone an old one, to revisit an idea and try it out. Winter is slower, more welcoming for finding the new or improved. Most collectors have just spent money on Christmas, and are not yet looking for more work, so it is okay for me to focus on what I would like to try. Experimentation is a gift of winter!

7.    Backward and Forward
Winter is the time of year that I use to look back at what the last year has been like. I evaluate how I did at being disciplined with studio time, how many paintings I was able to do, how many photos did I take that are good enough to make into cards or my calendars, how many shows did I enter, how many sales did I make? I read my journal entries to see what brought excitement, hope, creativity into my days, and what robbed me of joy and confidence. I use this information to determine what I will not do in the year ahead, what I want to do more of, and what should remain similar. I also dream. I dream of where I would like to be this time next year, what I would like to do, where I would like to go, and what I would like my life to look and feel like. I envision the perfect life for me as an artist. And then I set some guidelines... things like how many paintings to aim at painting, how many shows I would like to enter (and which ones!). I also build in things like trips, times with friends and family, and periods where other things will take priority - like summer when the weather is warm and outside beckons.

These are just 7 of my ideas about how to enjoy winter this year. How about you? Do you take advantage of less hours of light and colder temperatures to slow down, de-stress, and view things from a different perspective? Winter can be a fabulous time of year... especially if you are prepared to enjoy and take advantage of it! Happy winter everyone!


Carol Flett said...

Suddenly I am looking forward to winter. Thanks for a beautiful positive post.

Joanne said...

Hi Carol!
Glad you are able to find some beauty in winter too! Stay warm this winter - I hear it is to be a very cold one, as we are currently experiencing!

Anonymous said...

actually i wish i had a winter to enjoy. I've always enjoyed winter and treasure whatever winter we can get in is great. Enjoyed the post. Blessings...Chris

Joanne said...

Hi Chris!
I m sure that if I didn't have 4 seasons, I might also wish for winter. But today, with a -30* day, it seems that I would like to try one year without the deep cold we are experiencing this year. :-) Thanks for adding another perspective to treasuring what we are blessed with. :-)