Beating the Winter Blues

Star of the Hero by Nicholas Roerich, 1936. Pinning inspirational images on Pinterest is a great studio activity that keeps me engaged.
Star of the Hero by Nicholas Roerich, 1936. Pinning inspirational images on Pinterest is a great studio activity that keeps me engaged.


The Plein Air Studio Solution

Call it the blues, call it the doldrums, call it what you will–it seems that many of us plein-air painters go through a slump about this time of year. Even if the weather is good enough for painting outdoors, nature isn’t always at her finest when we’re waiting for spring to arrive. It can feel as if your creative well has all but frozen over and inspiration has gone dormant.

I saved this image from an online home decorating magazine because I liked both the arrangement of shapes and the color palette.
I saved this image from an online home decorating
magazine because I liked both the arrangement of
shapes and the color palette.

I was just talking about this with some friends, and I was surprised to hear some of the creative ways people have found to break through our particular “seasonal disorder.” Of course, there are the usual fixes for artists’ block, such as exercise, meditation, journaling, working in another medium, and the like. But my friends had some more unusual–and in my opinion, more intriguing–ways to break out of the blues.

• Have you tried Pinterest yet? Much like “pinning” ideas to a bulletin board, you can use your Pinterest account to electronically “pin” anything you find on the web to your virtual bulletin board. Look for art that inspires you, subjects you’d like to tackle when painting outside, even color palettes that make your mouth water. Sifting through the inspirational imagery you’ve collected online can be a real boost.

• The web has more motivation to offer, especially on YouTube and any source of podcasts that may be of interest to you (and don’t forget the Artist Daily site!). How about those how-to TV shows? The funny thing is, many of my artist friends find creative ideas in videos, recordings, and TV shows that have nothing to do with art, per se, but are about the creative process, like cooking shows or interviews with noted authors.

• If visual images just aren’t cutting it for you, use words instead. Try making a list of words you can use as touchstones for creative inspiration. A quick selection from my touchstone word list includes journey, spirit, bird, map, and hunger. Do any of those make you envision your next plein air painting? If not, what words would?

So, come on now, share. What’s the craziest, zaniest, oddest thing you’ve done to melt winter’s icy grip on your creative spirit and get your artistry flowing again?






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Plein Air Painting Blog
Jennifer King

About Jennifer King

Immersed in the art world is just where Jennifer King wants to be. Thanks to her long career in the art-instruction business--she was the editor of several leading artists' magazines--she has had incredible opportunities to meet and interview many of the finest living artists of our times, including Will Barnett, Clyde Aspevig, Scott Christensen, Sam Adoquei, Richard Schmid, Everett Raymond Kinstler, Ken Auster, Carla O’Connor, C.W. Mundy, Dan Gerhartz, Birgit O’Connor, Daniel Greene, and countless other generous artists who’ve shared their knowledge and insights. She is also honored to have edited several art-instruction books with such noted artists as Tom Lynch, Dan McCaw, Ramon Kelley, Wende Caporale, Carlton Plummer, and more.

Inspired by their passion for art, Jennifer returned to her own love of painting about 15 years ago, studying with figurative painter Tina Tammaro. Through this experience, she discovered her love of landscape painting, which for her, acts as a visual metaphor for human emotion. Constable, Corot, Pissarro, Inness, and Diebenkorn are among her artistic heroes. Other creative pursuits include photography and jewelry-making, and she’s also continuously studying art history and theory.

Jennifer paints primarily outdoors, but also in her home studio in Cincinnati, Ohio. She also continues to serve as a lecturer and competition juror for various art organizations across the country, and she is a member of the Women’s Art Club of Cincinnati. Jennifer is currently represented by the Greenwich House Gallery in O’Bryonville, a suburb of Cincinnati. As a confirmed landscape artist, her future goal is to use her experience in the art world to raise awareness for the need to protect our environment.

One thought on “Beating the Winter Blues

  1. Great advice. I sometimes find it too easy to get distracted by the internet. A few years ago I began referring to plein air paintings and sketches and creating quick, simple, compositional sketches in pencil. Once I decided on a composition or two to pursue further I then created a more detailed compositional study in charcoal. From there I either set the sketches aside for later work or begin working on an oil, Acrylic, or Watercolor – depending on the subject.

    Learning to let go, to not worry about making every painting or drawing a finished painting has been very freeing and has helped me begin to enjoy studio work much more than before. Plein air painting is still such an inspiration to me.

    When I was first starting out, I remember reading an article about Clyde Aspevig – it was, and is, so inspirational. I so enjoy seeing his work.