Pulled by the Charms of a Midwestern Winter Town

Enjoying the New Year sentiments as I work on a Watercolor

Happy to Work on a Watercolor on New Year’s Day

We realize that there is no one way of seeing a thing no matter how simple that thing may be.  Its planes, values, colors, all its characteristics are, as it were, shuffled before each new-comer arrives, and it is up to him to arrange them according to his understanding.

Robert Henri, The Art Spirit

I am back in Texas, but my heart is still in Hermann, Missouri.  Hemingway said he could not write about Michigan until he was in Paris, and could not write about Paris until he was back in the United States.  Well, here I am in Texas, painting from a photograph I took last week in Hermann, Missouri, a German town perched high on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River, a town that was blustering cold on the day I took this photo, yet the sun was knifing its way across every facade down this main street.  I don’t know how many photos I took of this historic town–all I know is that I wished I could stay there a few weeks and just sketch and paint every street corner.  But I had promises to keep.  And miles to go before I’d sleep (Robert Frost knew).  So I find myself back home, with only visual memories of Hermann, and attempts to capture some of it on paper.  And I suppose I feel some of that Hemingway Hangover (though I didn’t imbibe last night).  This cold wintry Midwestern town is still all over me.

I’ll be frank about this–I find zero environmental satisfacion in a 61-degree New Year’s Day, such as I work in today.  I am a Missourian, and yes, I was sick of winter weather when I moved to Texas in 1977, but after my first two boring winters in this state, I was begging for a sight of snow, for a wintry sky, for something, anything, to make me remember real winter seasons.   Today, as I chip away at this small watercolor, I have the NBC Winter Classic on TV.  105,000 fans are huddled in the stands at Michigan Stadium, snow is blowing everywhere, and two teams from the NHL Original Six are battling on the rink below.  It reminds me of my high school days in Missouri, playing hockey on frozen lakes, bonfires on the banks, hot chocolate beside the fire, layers of clothing–and now here I am in Texas, New Year’s Day, and it is 61 degrees and sunny outside.  I have already gone out into my backyard barefoot, in shorts and a T-shirt–hardly my thought of a genuine New Year’s Day.

This small 8 x 10″ watercolor sketch is really drawing me in.  I now wish I had started this on an 18 x 24″ or larger page.  I am absolutely loving the details of the photo and wanting to capture all I can, yet feel so hemmed in by the smallness of the composition.  I’m applying all I’ve learned about cold winter environments and trying to capture that sense of coldness that enveloped the town the morning I walked across it.  All I could think about as I walked along was how much the town looked like a Christmas card, and I was existing insde the Christmas card.  I just absolutely loved every sight.

This morning has been an excellent experience, as I have felt the embrace of 2014.  I was reading from the Isaacson biography on Benjamin Franklin about his retirement at the age of 42, because he saw no need to make more money than necessary to sustain life.  What he would seek from that moment forward was “leisure to read, study, make experiments, and converse at large with such ingenious and worthy men as are pleased to honor me with their friendship.” What a wonderful goal.  I am now adopting that as my mantra.

Thanks for reading.  What a wonderful start to the New Year (weather notwithstanding).

I paint in order to remember.

I journal when I feel alone.

I blog to remind myself that I am not alone.

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6 Responses to “Pulled by the Charms of a Midwestern Winter Town”

  1. Playamart - Zeebra Designs Says:

    brrrr, i don’t miss the cold at all, though christmas tinsel and false snow men seem way out of place in a palm and banana environment!

    linda, of the task at hand, and i were talking about taking some large subject and condensing it down to a tiny painting. that’s a true art!

    enjoy reminiscing in the memories of your time in the winter wonderland!\\




  2. mizehnder Says:

    Nice touch, what watercolors do you use?


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