A White Christmas
Here in New Hampshire, we recently experienced our second real snow fall of the new winter season. The snow seems to be early this year, but I'm OK with that. I'm thinking about how exciting a winter storm can be. New fallen snow blanketing everything outside is truly a wonder to behold. Its rather easy to think about the negative aspects of winter snow storms, like cleaning the cars, shoveling and snow blowing the driveway etc. But, if I let myself be filled with that same awe and wonder I felt as a child every time it snowed, I can easily rekindle my love for this season. I think of the song 'White Christmas', written in 1942 by Irving Berlin. Each year I find myself hoping for a White Christmas and I think this year we have a real shot at it. My favorite version of the song is the one sung by Bing Crosby. Did you know that it is the world's best-selling single with estimated sales in excess of 100 million copies worldwide? Wow! I guess I'm not the only one :)
From a painters standpoint, snow is pretty fascinating stuff. Snow turns any scene into a paint-able one. The blanketing of snow upon the surfaces of each element in the landscape, unifies all the parts into interesting patterns and shapes. The science part of the color of snow is also pretty fascinating in itself. We think of snow as being white and there is a scientific reason for that. Snow is made up of ice crystals and light gets scattered and bounces off the ice crystals in the snow. Snow reflects all colors and all the colors of light add up to white. So in general, we see white snow. In reality though, surfaces of built up snow do absorb some light. My theory is that the compactness of the ice crystals produce this effect. That is why the painters trained eye can actually see the nuances of warm pinks and violets in sunlit snow. Extremely subtle oranges and yellows are possibilities too. The shadows of snow appear blue and purple because the color of the sky is reflected into these shadow areas. It is always fascinating for me to paint snow outdoors and to be on the lookout for the slight variations of color within all that 'white' snow.
A heartfelt snow painting is a special kind of work. A snow scene lets the viewer step into the unique beauty of the winter landscape. For anyone who grew up with snow as a regular part of their winter routine, there are plenty of great memories that lay just below the surface of our adult selves. There were all those snow days off from school, along with weekends that were spent building snow forts and sledding down the fastest hill that could be found. This activity evolved to cross country and downhill skiing as we got older. But you don't have to ski to know the beauty and wonder of snow; you just have to experience it. A walk through a snow filled neighborhood or park is an exciting and aesthetically pleasing experience. I think a well painted snow scene strikes a chord within us and ties our present self to those childhood memories.
A White Christmas