The Art of Winter: Part One

The Art of Winter : Part One
Brisk by Jane Runyeon 

Mother Nature's power and seasonal changes have long been
a topic of great interest. 
The first snowfall of the season inspired me to continue
working on my Pennsylvania Woodland series.

You can feel the wet snow and the chill in the air,
sense the changing light: either darkness will envelop the forest
or the morning light will illuminate the glittering landscape.

Created with pencil, ink, watercolor and acrylic paint on paper 38" x  50"
Contemporary artists like Simon Beck actually use snow and ice  as their medium, using the ephemeral qualities inherent of water below 32 degrees.

 Simon Beck, snow is his passion.
His snowshoe clad feet serve as the tool for etching ephemeral images across the northern hemisphere’s frozen landscape.
Originally trained as an engineer at Oxford, Beck’s designs usually consist of mathematical shapes that he carefully calculates before stepping foot on the virginal white surface of new-fallen snow.

When the short, dark days of winter send most of us under the covers to read or to enjoy a hot chocolate or anything with a shot of whiskey,
artists driven by the tenacity and curiosity continue to explore the unpredictability of the season.

The earliest images of winter were executed in paint on canvas or parchment.
Above Hunters in the Snow 1565  by famous Dutch artist, Pieter Bruegel. 

One of the earliest recorded paintings of a winter scene is from the French Gothic manuscript illumination titled Trés Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1412-16) by the Limbourg Brothers.
This is from an illustrated collection of 131 prayers.  Now it can be found in the permanent collection of the Musée Condé, Chantilly, France.

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840) was a brooding German landscape painter very popular in his own time. Included in the nineteenth-century Romantic movement, Friedrich revered spirituality embedded in the landscape.
His blissful regard of the natural world took a negative turn in one of his most pessimistic works, The Sea Ice, also known as The Wreck of Hope. 
In the painting, shifting slabs of Arctic ice crush a wooden ship, a metaphor for human helplessness when confronting nature’s powerful indifference.

 A masterpiece Snowstorm Madison Square (1890), by American Impressionist
 Childe Hassam (1859-1935), an oil on canvas cityscape, recalls the painterly effects of light in Monet’s Rouen Cathedral series created during the same time. Hassam juggled his fine art pursuits with commercial work as an engraver for much of his life.
Although New England-based he lived in France during his formative years, at one time taking over Renoir’s studio. 


Vermonter Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley (1865-1931) was the first known photographer of snowflakes.
Fascinated by snowflakes since childhood, Bentley experimented photographing them on black velvet through a microscope. A collection of Bentley snowflake micrographs from 1902 shows the crystalline structure of a single flake.
This unique image, along with over 5,000 others, supported the theory that no two snowflakes are alike.

Writing Credit to Cynthia Close with personal edits.
Winter Tide by Jane Runyeon
Original Acrylic on Wood 12"x 36"
"I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields,
that it kisses them so gently?
And then it covers them up snug, you know,
with a white quilt; and perhaps it says,

"Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again.”

― Lewis Carroll, 
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland / Through the Looking-Glass