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Winter hues

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Woodford Arts Group founder Julia Brett reflects on the winter blues and the seasonal ups and downs of creative motivation

Winter is often considered by artists as the most difficult season to depict. This is possibly true for those artists who prefer to work en plein air, but you do not need to have your feet buried in snow to convey the spirit of a place. For me, it’s the forest and woods surrounding us. The atmosphere and beauty are revealed through trees and branches stripped of their leaves. 

The winter scene shows itself at its most dramatic. The soft greens of summer foliage and the golden cloak of autumn leaves are all gone, revealing each tree’s individual characteristics. Of course, ideally, drawing these trees and the landscape provides great source material, but cameras are also invaluable as aide memoirs. The reality is, at this time of the year, most artists are working in warm studios or cosy dens.

Blue is often the colour most associated with winter, which many artists convey through snow scenes. There is a scientific explanation for why snow appears to be blue, but suffice to say, snow, like the sky, is not white but clear, and generally reflects the colours around it. Two of the most famous works of art which illustrate this are Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow and Kandinsky’s very colourful Winter Landscape.

My own work from the forest ranges from Winter Glade in watercolour, Knighton Birches in oils to Forest Shadows in acrylic. The former two works show the contrast in the depiction of snow, whilst Forest Shadows was actually painted in snow but left open to interpretation.

Winter, with all its difficulties, is still a very beautiful season – if desolate at times – and especially at this juncture, perhaps we are all looking for something to give us some optimism. That is very true for many artists at present who are lacking in creative motivation.

But now may be the perfect time for us all to look for that beauty which we often ignore but is right here on our doorstep.


To view more winter-themed work by members of Woodford Arts Group, visit swvg.co.uk/winterart

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