Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Winter Islands in Snow: in Search of Winslow Homer


After visiting Winslow Homer's house/studio earlier this winter, I wanted to find his light. He often chose to paint under stormy skies, capturing a rough sea. That's a bit easier to do if your studio has a covered porch overlooking the water. I imagined this is how Winslow Homer would have seen my part of Maine.


On summer days I've often driven to Lookout Point to paint watercolors. My studio travels with me.


While painting, I've wondered what the islands would like under stormy skies and snow.


After a winter storm, I usually grab my skis and head into the woods. This time I took my camera and drove eight miles to the sea.


Allen's Seafood lobster shack was transformed under a frosting of snow.


The dock took on a level of abstraction, so quiet and empty, like a ghost town.


Even the trees seemed to shiver in the bitter cold.


The sea was nothing like I'd ever seen before: Arctic, forlorn. The wind was something else. I could barely hold the camera steady, bracing my feet against the ice. I had to take breaks to warm up in the car.


Then as suddenly as the storm had blown in, the sun broke through the clouds.


The stormy coast was now tamed, but I'm glad I saw it in the wild of winter. One day I shall paint this wintery scene too, but not on location! At this time of year, I'm writing in my office or reading by the fire. Winslow Homer is influencing my new novel too, insinuating his dramatic imagery upon the page. 

14 comments:

cynthia newberry martin said...

GORGEOUS dark and stormy photos, Sarah! Some of my favorites of yours. Also enjoyed seeing the photos of your trip to England and reading the review of The Goldfinch. I'm still traveling and my thick copy is at home. Now I can't wait to start reading.

Les said...

Maybe you can paint indoors using one of your moody winter pictures as a reference, or do you need plein air?

I have been a big fan of Homer since I was a child and would park myself in front of my aunt's bookcase to look at his work. My wife and I were fortunate enough to see a Homer show at the National Gallery ages ago. She wept at the Fox Hunt.

A Cuban In London said...

Your photos of the snow have an eerie feeling, like half-real, half-painted. Especially the last three. I love them. Many thanks.

Greetings from London.

Sarah Laurence said...

Cynthia, thank you! I’m looking forward to your review of The Goldfinch. Safe journeys!

Les, I usually paint en plein air, but that summery painting on my blog was actually a composite of on site work and photos. I’m going to try working from memory and these photos for a winter painting. Your wife and you should come to Maine to see his studio. You’ll recognize the view out his window. The best Homer exhibit I saw was at the MFA in Boston. I came close to tears to in a room filled with only his ocean landscapes. It was like being at sea.

ACIL, thank you! That was my aim. Now to paint a painting that could be a photo…

Donna said...

I got to experience what the ocean shore looks like in winter too recently when we were at the Cape. It has a unique beauty to it, doesn't it? I love your pictures.

Rose said...

I had to look twice at a couple of these photos to make sure they were photos, not paintings! As much as I like the scenes bathed in sunlight, the shots of the storm clouds over the island are fantastic.

Elizabeth Wix said...

These are especially wonderful photos, Sarah. I was quite blown away by the top one. Yes, stormy skies and drama make for wonderful art work -but need a hardy observer.
I love to look at things gloomy, cold and desolate, stormy etc etc. I'm obviously a 'romantic'.
But I got great joy from these pictures.

walk2write said...

Your different perspectives of the islands and sea are fascinating, Sarah. They do evoke emotional responses. The wild and stormy picture gave me chills, but I love it! I've heard about Homer's place but didn't get the chance to see it when we were there a couple of years ago. I told SAM the other day that another trip (maybe this year?) to Maine is necessary. We didn't have nearly enough time to do all of the things we wanted to last visit.

Mama Shujaa said...

Love the title "Winter Islands In Snow..." and your photos amplify mother nature's reign over us all! Lovely work. And I like your juxtaposition of the summer pics as well...I get the full effect of climate's diversity...awesome!

Sarah Laurence said...

Donna, I enjoyed your winter beach photos too.

Rose, thanks! That was my intension.

Elizabeth, thank you. You capture the emotions well. I was thinking back to the romantic/naturalist period of art.

W2W, it’s best to book tickets to Homer’s studio in advance. Do come and visit!

Mama Shujaa, yes, we get extreme swings in climate in Maine. I enjoy summer but I love the winter light the best, if only we got a few more hours of it!

Amanda said...

Islands are solitary by nature and in winter all the more so. Your painterly place reminds me of a little island off my Ithaki, called Lazaretto.

Jenny Woolf said...

How wonderful. I wish I had seen it. that's the kind of sight that I rarely see in real life, but occasionally do - and then it stays with me forever when I do.

Skeeter said...

Beautiful yet so cold looking! Seeing special Spots turning to snow and icy landscapes is wonderful. I know so cold but oh so soothing in a strange sort of way for me....

☆sapphire said...

Hi

Your winter island photos are really fascinating! I particularly love the first and ninth ones. I always find it hard to use right exposures when shooting objects in the snow and also in the sea. The exposures you used look so proper!! Thank you for this lovely post. I enjoyed it a lot.