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Posts Tagged ‘Winter in Wisconsin’

Forsythia

Forsythia . . .

and lilacs.

Lilacs

The sun grows stronger

moving north a little more

each day.

Dreams explode on my art table.

Meanwhile . . . .

Gathering for Change

a cozy winter view

of our park.

 

Margaret L. Been — January 16, 2016

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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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Eternally Snowing--Winter 2014--2

The salt trick is too much fun!  ↑ Here is “Eternally Snowing — Winter, 2014”, sprinkled with very coarse salt.  Our Wisconsin world!

But every year about now I begin dreaming, and my dreams morph into paintings.  Voilà “Windy Summer Day” ↓ .  This one was embellished with Kosher salt.

Windy Summer Day

After the painting dries the salt is scraped off, leaving textural marks plus a bit of “shine”.  The coarser the salt, the more of a job it is to remove.  A credit card works well for scraping, but hopefully not the card which is currently being used.  🙂

Margaret L. Been, February 2014

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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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May in Wisconsin can be as blustery as an icy blast on the North Sea, or it can be an euphoric spell of something like Heaven on earth.  The last week has been euphoric.  My days are spent outdoors—either puttering in the garden, strolling with Baby Dylan (corgi), or reading and sunning.  But evenings are, as always, spent at my messy palette. 

The renderings produced in our bedroom studio are not always indicative of the season at hand.  I have a pleasant enough truce with winter, because it’s inevitable here in the northland.  But when shoved to the wall, I have to admit that I’m not overly fond of near zero temperatures and the color white—except in clouds, flowers, birds, animals, pearls, and bridal gowns.  (I do like all colors of people.) 

Winter scenes (by me or anyone else) rarely hang in our home gallery, although branches laden with fresh snow are exquisitely lovely!  Invariably the seasons I paint are spring, summer, and autumn—and especially SUMMER!

I have a pet theory which probably has no objective research whatsoever behind it, yet it’s my theory:  that contented individuals tend to love the season (and month) in which they were born.  That theory is fact in at least one case—my own!  I’m summer born, August born to be exact.  Having loved living and been a contented person ever since I remember, I love summer with a passion.

Obviously, it’s only May—and May is still spring.  But we are having summer weather, so it’s summer in May.  We wake to birdsong, and sleep to the clicking and clacking of tree frogs under our window.  We steep our tea in the sun, and rejoice on our covered patio in the rain.  We’re overwhelmed by the beauty and goodness of it all—and those qualities are what I want my art to represent:  beauty and goodness!

So happy spring, summer, autumn, and even winter—since we can always celebrate summer in our deepest heart!  Winter is beautiful as well!  And without our Wisconsin winters, our summers would not be so ineffably precious and sweet!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Early March is the time when I traditionally clip some red osier dogwood branches and set them indoors in a pitcher of water.  I did this a week ago, when our trees and shrubs were laden with fresh snowfall. 

The snow melted in a few days, and now the weather is wonderfully gusty and sunny—exactly like March should be.  And my indoor dogwood shoots have sprouted teeny buds in various places along their stems.

How satisfying are those little rituals which mark the turning seasons and the passing years.  Clipping the dogwood was a pleasure last week, and so was painting it.  The above rendering is a tribute to one of Wisconsin’s loveliest shrubs, both cultivated and wild.  The background in the lower portion of the above painting was created before painting the branches of dogwood, by splotching color all over the YUPO paper—then pressing SARAN WRAP over the sheet, crinkling it into shapes and textures, and weighting the whole bit down overnight with heavy books.  The next morning, voilà!  Rocks, and random organic shapes.

I filled in the sky last, but it was too garish at first and it detracted from the rest of the work.  I modified the sky by running water over the upper left corner—causing the paint to bleed, fade, and in some spots disappear altogether.

This piece is titled “Tongues of Fire”.  I always picture flaming branches of red osier dogwood sitting on the heads of the dispersed Jews who gathered in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost—that historic occasion which marked the birth of the Christian Church. 

Such “far out” mental imaging may seem ludicrous to some, but it goes with the unique territory of “Poet/Painter”.  🙂  Much as I love words, I have always thought in pictures—technicolor pictures at that!

Margaret L. Been, ©2012

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Winter is beautiful, at least in Wisconsin.  Winter is a wonderful time for hunkering down and losing track of time while immersed in creative activites.  A winter walk can be enjoyable, when we are buffered in layers against the elements.  And the cup of tea or cocoa upon returning home is reason for euphoria.

I love to paint the seasons.  Above, you will see my rendering “Deep Powder” in watercolor on YUPO® paper.  Below you’ll find the same painting, scanned and digitally altered.  Maybe that one should be called “Deep Powder at Evening”.

Margaret L. Been, ©2011

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The days are stretching out at both ends.  Every year about now, I go into a state of abject euphoria over the growing daylight and anticipation of our wet and wonderful, cold, fragrant Wisconsin spring.  Here in Southern Wisconsin, one can get euphoric by mid-February, as the redwing blackbirds will probably be back by early March.  In the past we’ve seen and heard them about 40 miles southeast, in the town of Whitewater, by the last week of February.  If we get any sort of a thaw in the next couple weeks, we’ll be Whitewater-bound for dinner at a favorite steak house there–and our first “hello” to the returning redwings.

Each year about now I get a power surge to change things around in our home, especially in my writing and painting studio which–since we moved “south”–is located at one end of our sunny bedroom.  Yesterday I accomplished a great re-do of the studio, so everything is lovelier now and more convenient.

The butt-ugly laptop, scanner and printer are tucked into an obscure corner and covered by gorgeous handwoven runners, when not in use.  Most prominent now are my easel, brushes, and paintings in process.  The accoutrements of art are beautiful, while writing  paraphernalia tends to be an eyesore in this age of technology.  Quill pens, inkwells, and parchment were indeed beautiful to behold–but not so efficient as my butt-ugly computer and attachments.  Hence the disguise, in woven works of art.

The above desk is one of two in my studio, along with two work tables.  A small TV hunkers under another woven runner.  The TV is not hooked up for reception, Heaven forbid!  It’s simply here for viewing my art tutorial DVDs, JEEVES AND WOOSTER, and other beloved British productions.

A power surge!  In a few weeks, that great silent power will surge underfoot, and we’ll have a revolution of GREEN!

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Yesterday my true love, Joe, and I had a “normal day”–if any day can ever be called that.  Our daughter is healing amazingly well from cardiac arrest, with her faculties intact.  She is scheduled to go home on Thursday, just 2 weeks after the crisis.

Joe and I celebrated by taking time out just for fun.  We ate at our favorite Mexican restaurant, enjoying the colorful decor and friendly service in the place along with our meaty/cheesy enchiladas. 

Then we proceded to an activity which delights both of us in different ways–a trip to an antique mall.  Joe and Baby Dylan  (our corgi) relaxed in the warm van, dozing and listening to Wisconsin Public Radio while I spent a portion of infinity browsing in the store.  Since WPR sets my teeth on edge and Joe gets weary in antique stores, this arrangement suits us both.

I find it tremendously theraputic, to wander amongst old things:  vintage clothing, 40s kitchen kitsch, Victorian glassware and china, primitive pots and enamelled kettles, ornate sterling silver and silverplate, faded pictures and tattered books, and old furniture–either aged and polished to perfection, or scarred and chipped.  (I like “scarred and chipped” most of all!)

The antique mall yielded 2 treasures:  a vintage sheep picture in a gorgeous old shabby chic frame, and a Royal Albert cup and saucer decorated with blossoms and REDWING BLACKBIRDS! 

Although I love English tea pots, cups, and saucers, I have a strange confession to make.  I am not inordinately fond of hot tea!  (Iced tea, whoopee and hooray!)  I collect a plethora of tea paraphernalia just for the aesthetics, while consuming huge quantities of full strength, leaded COFFEE every day.  

This morning I’m sipping rather than chug-a-lugging my coffee, from the Prince Albert redwing cup placed on its dainty saucer.  With redwing blackbirds at hand, can spring be far behind?

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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Winter is beautiful.  Winter is invigorating.  Winter is fun.  Given these attributes, we can also add:  winter is cold, winter can be treacherous on the roads, winter paths are slippery, and winter is long.

Over the years, I’ve discovered that it’s a social “No-No” to talk about spring in the winter.  If I so much as mentions lilacs or soft south winds, someone will say, “I LOVE winter.  Winter is so beautiful.” 

The inference is:  “What in the world is wrong with you, to talk about lilacs in the gorgeous winter?”  Or:  “Are you ever a wimp!” 

Nearly forever, I have written poems about life lying dormant in winter–waiting to burst forth in spring.  Nearly forever, I’ve used the metaphor of winter to express the darkest, coldest moments of my human soul.  People who “just don’t get poetry” have read these poems, and commented with a sneer, “You don’t like winter very much!”

But I’m not alone in my choice of metaphor.  The four seasons would be hackneyed symbols in literature, were it not for their universality–their ability to touch sensitive people in many cultures with a common experience.

Disregarding skiers, dog-sled racers, ice skaters, and other lovers of bitter cold weather, I’ll go on dreaming of lilacs.  And while dreaming, there are things to do in anticipation of spring.  I cut dogwood and honeysuckle branches, place them in a vase of water indoors, and watch the buds pop.  I save my long hair, culled from my hairbrush, to hang on tree branches for birds’ nests in May.

No one should ever apologize for dreaming of lilacs!  We have a right to dream! 

Margaret L. Been–All Rights Reserved

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