It was -21 degrees in Red Wing. The afternoon sun hung low behind the trees. The icy Mississippi River was warmer than the winter air, and mist hovered between patches of frozen water. Impressed with the surreal blue and purple landscape, I snapped a few photos and then ran back to the car before my fingers turned the same color. I used to hate winter, but I am finding new ways to enjoy it through watercolor painting.
Red Wing, MN
Watercolor on cold pressed cotton rag paper
by Katrina Pete
I stepped outside this morning, on the coldest day of the year. A distant airplane engine rattled through a bitter sky. The arctic sun cast long blue shadows behind barren trees. Skeletons of deciduous forests reached into the clouds. The air was sharp and my throat grew tight. Someone burned firewood nearby. The neighborhood was frozen, the homes exhaled. Not a soul or living creature was in sight. The only trace of life was a series of bunny tracks meandering around the front yard. Even our dog snubbed his nose at the frigid air and curled up on the couch.
This season is especially tough in Minnesota, but I’m counting on my Scandinavian roots to get me through winter. I’m using this time to slow down and take care of myself and my loved ones. I’m choosing to embrace the cold dark nights with wool sweaters, a busy tea kettle, home-made ‘hotdish’ and walks with our dog in the snow.
We had our first real snow storm a few days ago. Instead of hunkering indoors, I drove to a huge wooded park and walked around taking photos of the sparkling wonderland. The anxious voice in the back of my mind worried about getting stranded alone in a strange park, or somehow losing my keys after a long hike in the cold. But I did just fine in my parka. My boots crunched through the snow as I made my way around a lake. My body warmed and I enjoyed being in motion. I found inspiration in the winter foliage and purity in the exposed and vulnerable landscape. I liked being alone under a sky of a billion white flakes.
So I plan on having more winter adventures. Inspiration happens when you seek it, and I think I’m finally starting to appreciate the beauty of winter more than ever before. This watercolor of white winter birch trees was inspired by the birch in my backyard!