Recently I came across this quote from conservationist and author John Burroughs (1837-1921) that quite astutely described the uniqueness of the winter landscape.
“What a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.” ~John Burroughs, The Snow-Walkers, 1866
It made me think about the differences in color palette and form between the other seasons and winter in a way I suppose I haven’t thought about in the way an artist thinks about the medium they are working with. When you read it, and especially after having been out photographing it, it makes perfect sense. When I researched a bit more what his essay “The Snow Walkers” was about, I found the first paragraph starting with:
“He who marvels at the beauty of the world in summer will find equal cause for wonder and admiration in the winter.”
True indeed, each season has its own unique offerings to appreciate, which can be one of the benefits of living in the midwest as you get to experience them all. But for me personally, I would put forth that winter creates a bit more of an interesting subject to work with than the rather uniform aspects of summer. As soon as Spring starts wrapping up, it seems like the environment goes into a very static state around here.
For me, I think it has a lot to do with what Burroughs mentions in how the medium dramatically changes. Sure, Fall is a rather dynamic time, as well as Spring – but the mediums are different. Water in various forms becomes a rather dominant element of the landscape. The seasons move from a rather delicately painted landscape to one pushed, pulled, scraped and carved. I imagine this in my head quite literally, an artist figure changing their interaction with their tools and medium in poignant ways.
All of that hammering and carving may not make it the most pleasant to experience first hand, but I think there can be no argument about the uniqueness of the results that make winter the season of sculpture.