Season’s Greetings from Grantview Studio!
Last week we experienced the first blanket of snow in our neighborhood. The first is always enchanting as we look out the windows from our cozy home. But soon the novelty wears thin as driveways need to be plowed, walkways shoveled, and slick pavement can be treacherous!
I don’t mind the winter months. They allow me to hunker down and get more work accomplished in my studio. My husband is the opposite; Bob can’t wait for Winter Solstice to arrive, as the waning of daylight hours ends and days begin to grow longer again. He thrives on the warmth of sunlight.
In other writings I have mentioned that my mother suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). I remember visiting her one winter when she was quite gloomy. It was Bob who lifted her spirits by showing her the calendar. It was just a few days before December 21st. He reminded her that as soon as we pass that marker, there would be more light each day until Spring arrives. It was with this precious memory in mind that I created our Holiday Greeting card this year.
The phrase “If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” had been running through my mind lately. I couldn’t remember where I’d read it, so I researched and found that it is the final line of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind”. I use symbolism in my artwork, so I began to imagine a way to convey the hope and optimism of his poem.
After the leaves fall, berries remain to nourish the animals and birds who stay through the winter. There are lots of winter scenes depicting birds perched on snow-laced branches with berries, and I wanted to do my version of this.
Towards the end of a long winter, when I spot a robin, I sense the coming of Spring. In my research I was amused to read that robins can get tipsy on berries and crabapples that have fermented after a frost.
Also, Chinese Lanterns are an unusual addition for a winter holiday scene, but when I was walking Roxy & Ringo one day I admired these bright orange, bell-shaped husks growing near the edge of someone’s property. In fact, that lovely neighbor insisted I take some home to plant the seeds. I incorporated these decorative plants into the painting because the color of the robin’s breast combines the red berries and orange Lanterns. And the Lanterns represent a way to shine light.
The work on this holiday card began as a watercolor, but as I tried to make the robin’s breast just the right color of red/orange, I overworked the layers of paint. Watercolor is a tricky medium. And then there was the problem of adding white for snow – a BIG “no-no” in the world of purists. I am not a watercolor purist, but I have friends who are; they tell me white areas for them can only be the color of the paper. This means you really need to plan ahead, which I did not in this case.
To solve these problems I gathered my tubes of gauche “design colors”. What began as a delicate transparent rendering, became a formation of opaque layers. But I enjoyed this process so much that I’ve decided to try it on a study for “Children Climbing a Tree” – a painting still in the planning stages. Thankfully the patron who commissioned this piece is not in a rush and has left me free to decide on any medium I want. I’m excited to try this!
The novel Testimony by Paul Turelli has been recently published. I created the cover with the author’s guidance earlier this year. He had a specific look in mind for this book – super fun to do!
Paul has commissioned me for the cover of his next novel, The Magdalene House. I’ve begun reading the manuscript and am really looking forward to this project!
I did a little self-publishing of my own by illustrating and setting my “Straddle the Turtle” story in zine form, which is available on my shop site. I love making zines! The text and drawings are in the works for my next one entitled Deep Down in my soul #3: I Desire a Simple Life.
I also love making bookmarks. It’s a great way to use up scraps of expensive watercolor paper. Like my notecards, they are helpful as “warm-up exercises” to test color combinations, brush techniques and unique designs. I’m planning to add a variety of them to my shop soon.
One final story from me: I have a friend living near Seattle who I’ve known since we were teenagers. I can count on one hand how many times we’ve seen each other in person since she moved to Washington, but we stay connected via phone, text, birthday cards, etc. The first time I received a hand-painted postcard from her, I laughed with delight! Sent without the protection of an envelope, her charming watercolor was exposed to the possibility of being sullied by transport through snail mail all the way to Wisconsin.
I loved the fact that her artistic expression was sent with such abandon, not deeming her artwork so precious that its loss or ruin would be the end of the world! I learned from this unassuming action of hers. It’s a lesson in being less anxious and more playful. I’ve been sending them to her now, too.
It’s kind of thrilling to wonder if it will make it or not…
News & photos from Bob:
My sailing on Lake Michigan ended mid-October but boating continued on a late-October visit to my son Bob’s new lake home on Lake Norman, North Carolina.
I’m hoping to get back to golfing again after successful hand surgery. First attempts began in November where my son, Scott, installed a big screen golf simulator system in his garage on Whitewater Lake, Wisconsin. Winter golfing in Wisconsin!
I still enjoy my contract photography work for a Regional Insurance Company. Included here are some early winter scenes that grabbed my attention during a work day.
Let’s get past Winter Solstice and start the countdown to Summer Solstice!
A day in the lives of Roxy & Ringo
Roxy and Ringo love their groomer, Amy. She gives them lots of tasty treats so they will cooperate as she shampoos, shaves, clips, and otherwise makes them feel soft and fluffy again. But they’d really rather not “go there”. How they know when I am about to take them, I’m not sure. But they won’t budge no matter how cheerful I make this outing sound. However…
It’s amazing what treats can do.
Thank you for your continued interest in our Grantview Studio family,
Barb, Bob, Roxy & Ringo
- To read the full poem Ode to the West Wind: PoetryFoundation.org
- S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder): MayoClinic.org
- Winter Solstice: Wikipedia.org
- The novel Testimony: Paul Turelli.com
- My Etsy Shop & GrantviewStudio.com (same shop, two entrances)