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Posts Tagged ‘Up North’

Red Cabin in Winter

Our Wisconsin Summer lasted far longer than usual this year, and then after a week of welcome rain we had more Summer, a quick frost, and now the most gorgeous Indian Summer.  The leaves are finally turning—weeks beyond the norm for us, in fact many have blown down without turning.  What a poignant, breathtaking time of year.

Yet we know the “inevitable” is literally around the corner.  I confess that I no longer welcome winter like I did as a child.  Okay, the first snowfall sends me reeling with delight—and I’ll be out with my camera when that happens.  And the second, and the third—hopefully through Christmas.

I don’t even mind the January cold that much, although it’s no fun to be out and about at minus 10 degrees.  Wool is my good friend, after years of raising sheep, knitting, weaving, and spinning—and continuing to spin and knit in the present tense.

Yes, wool!  But a heartfelt “NO” to the weeks of darkness before and after the winter solstice.  Around solstice time, I print out the length of day charts for January, February, and March—and consult the stats almost daily until early March when that sudden surge of light turns into abject exuberance.  Then I recycle the chart papers for another year when I plan to print out more.

This year I’m getting ready for the inevitable with winter paintings.  Several other local artists and I supply a bank, a family restaurant, a chiropractic clinic, and a hospice with paintings which we change every three months around the year.  Last December the person in charge of coordinating the displays called me and requested some winter art.  I protested that “I don’t do winter because winter is simply not my favorite season”—but my resistance failed and, on very short notice, I produced some winter art—specifically the below rendering titled “Up North”.

Up North 4

“Up North” turned out to be one of my favorites, maybe because I love the vicinity of Wisconsin Up North with a passion.  I also managed some wintery mountain scenes for the remaining local gallery sites—but they are not my favorites.

Now certainly one could rotate paintings from site to site.  It’s fairly unlikely that someone visiting a hospice in Oconomowoc would also be sitting in a bank boardroom in Waukesha—at least in the same time period.  Unlikely, but not impossible.

Maybe a bit of repetition would be helpful.  But no, I’m insisting on fresh exposure everywhere in every season.  I love the motivation, the actual work involved, and knowing that each piece will have a singular viewing.  Inventory is building and I have a lot of framed paintings on hand for anyone who may want to tour my home studio.

So unless we get snow tonight, this year’s winter art will be ready for the first snow.  The watercolor/gouache painting at the top of this entry is a sample.  It’s name is “Red Cabin in Winter”.  I guess part of me will always be “Up North”.

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Up North 4

Our Christmas Day celebration was memorable with a great blend of good company, good food, and—as usual when we gather with family and friends—loads of laughs, some of which erupted from a series of hilarious selfies.  Our family tends to goof it up when posing for pictures, and when you can see the results instantly it’s all the more fun!

The only thing missing here in Southern Wisconsin was snow.  Instead we had something which has not happened very often in recent weeks:  a day of welcome sunshine.  But we love a beautiful snowfall, and in Wisconsin we think “Christmas and snow”.

Lately I was especially thinking snow, due to a photo in a holiday greeting from a friend, professional artist, and fellow poet Diana Randolph, who lives way up where we natives call “Up North”*.  The individuals in the photo are set in that incredibly pristine landscape of Up North snow.

So for days I went around remembering Joe’s and my eight years of living full time, UP NORTH.  I kept seeing our Northern home in my mind’s eye**.  There is a kind of light Up North even on overcast snowy days, until night—and then one frequently sees what appear be a million stars.  My mind’s eye was visualizing that light in the process of the above painting in watercolor and gouache.

So thank you, Diana, for your inspiring photo and Christmas greeting—and for your encouragement as well!   You can meet Diana and view her beautiful art on her website.  Just GOOGLE Diana Randolph, Northern Wisconsin Artist.

Margaret L. Been, December 2014

*Roughly speaking, in Wisconsin we consider “Up North” to be most anywhere north of Highway 10.  But for me the term has also become symbolic of a contented way of living and the quality of experiencing a “whole” life wherever we live.  Some day I may develop this theme on my everyday life blog:  Northern Reflections.

**Like so many commonly used expressions, “the mind’s eye” comes from The Old Bard—this phrase via Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, Act 1, Scene 2.  Shakespeare is indeed immortal, with countless figures of speech and phrases enduring through the centuries—along with wisdom, wit, and insight concerning the human heart and mind.  🙂

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I have never been able to appreciate the dilemma of individuals who say, “I’d like to write, but don’t know what to write about.”  My answer is, “You have a life!  So write your life!  Write about the people and places you love!”

Over the last six years, since I began painting, I’ve often recalled my own advice!  Although I’d love to paint the people I love, alas.  My skills are inadequate, at least at this point.  But I can, have, and continually do paint the places I love.

You will recognize the above paintings as representative of “Out West”.  That region of our nation is dear to my heart— especially Colorado (my “second home”), plus New Mexico and Northern Arizona (my “adopted second homes”).

Next you will see glimpses of a part of my actual lifelong home, known to most Wisconsinites as “Up North”:

And here is my current home in Southern Wisconsin. ↓ These renderings were inspired by life inside and outdoors in our beloved Nashotah:

So there you have it.  I’ll never run out of excitement over the places I love—past and present!  And “future” is going to be the most exciting of all!  But my finite mind cannot begin to comprehend how to depict the new Heaven and earth!  I’ll just have to wait and see!  🙂

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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