Editor’s Letter | The Beauty of Winter

Landscape painters capture nature’s subtlety

By Kristin Hoerth

Cathedral by Bart Forbes.

Cathedral by Bart Forbes.

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

Let me get this out of the way right from the start: I really like winter. I love to watch the snow fall, I don’t mind bundling up in warm clothes, and I enjoy winter sports. Now, don’t get me wrong; it’s not like I’m happy while scraping ice off my windshield. But it’s relatively easy to like winter here in Colorado. Unlike other regions of the country, where the season means long stretches of gloominess, here storms are usually followed quickly by blue sky, sunshine, and warmer temperatures.

In fact, that’s the kind of day we had yesterday. After a weekend that brought single-digit thermometer readings and about 8 inches of snow, the workweek started off with a balmy 50 degrees. I headed out for a late-afternoon run with the sun low in the sky, and before the first mile was over, I was marveling at the landscape before me. Bright white snow still covered the ground, except where golden grasses were poking through. The sky was an intense, icy shade of blue, and that same blue was reflected in the parts of the nearby pond that weren’t frozen. Wispy clouds in the sky had turned a peachy-golden color that gradually began deepening to pink.

It was so lovely that I wished (as I often do) for an easy way to carry a camera with me on my runs. But in fact, a camera probably wouldn’t have translated the subtlety of the colors I was seeing. What I needed was a landscape painter, who would no doubt have been challenged to capture the rapidly changing effects of light: Within about 20 minutes, the sun had dipped behind the foothills, the peachy-pinks had disappeared, and the icy blue sky had turned gray. I felt lucky to have seen the show while it lasted.

I hope that, somewhere else along Colorado’s Front Range, one of the many talented painters who live here was outdoors, seeing that same scene and hurrying to make a few color sketches on a small canvas before it vanished. Even after many years of watching painters at work during Quick Draws and paint-outs, I’m still in awe of their ability to put paint down on canvas in a way that captures nature’s subtle beauty.

In this month’s special section on landscape painting, which starts on page 66, you’ll find many scenic views to peruse. And whether you share my appreciation for winter’s beauty or not, I hope you’ll share my admiration for the talent of these painters.

This story was featured in the February 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  February 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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