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Despite the relentless bombardment of gaudy festivity advertised in every commercial avenue, winter still manages to be beautiful. Traditional foliage, frozen landscapes and platters of mince pies have a tendency to invoke my artistic inclinations but, in truth, I spend all year gaining delight from the changing seasons and the human culture surrounding them. What is it about the natural world that draws so many artists? Google has a well phrased article on the subject that opines: “[Nature in art] can symbolise not only the sublime, but also curiosity for the unknown”. I think this aptly describes nature's importance in the composition of a painting, either metaphorically or as a narrative key, but doesn't account for the innate attraction it holds for all people. As is obvious by the widespread delight of watching garden birds hop closer to a feeder, looking at the trails of small animals through snow, and the traditional christmas day walk. This is perhaps a philosophical query for another day, and for now I'm delighted to share the artistic joys of christmas with a few extracts from my sketchbooks.

Caption: Mince pies, Jam tarts and Stollen 6th December 2021

Although I keep a sketchbook all year round, there's an additional sentimental pull to journaling at christmas; the visual and written record of family time. In the same way that people take photos for an album, the small snippets of life and laugher that make their way invariably into the pages of a diary are invaluable. This blog post contains a record of Christmases past and present (though not, so far, future).

Caption: Little Christmas tree 13th December 2019

Caption: Ivy in early January 2023

Caption: Christmas morning cup of tea 25th December 2020

Caption: Snow day 28th January 2021

Caption: Robins hopping closer 2021

Here are a few things to paint over the winter:

  • Mince pies and other pastries

  • Brussel sprouts on the stalk

  • Oranges

  • Spices – eg star anise, cinnamon

  • Nuts

  • Holly, ivy and other foliage

  • People in scarves and hats

  • Discarded scarves and hats

  • Steaming beverages

  • Frosty scenes

  • Garden birds

  • Family members

  • The tree

  • Your favourite decorations

  • Presents in a pile

  • People ice skating

  • Christmas shopping

As always, I hope that in reading this blog post you have learned something new and are inspired to try your hand at sketch-booking. I'd love to see any work that you've created, please tag me with @valerianstudio!


Google Arts & Culture: 'Nature in art'

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