I am a nighthawk and I often find myself unable to sleep until well after midnight. Last night, I was watching the Antiques Roadshow on PBS. I like to watch from time to time and see what kinds of outrageous things people bring! Every so often a painting shows up and it is fun to see what the appraisers have to say.
Last night was the season opener in Baltimore. A woman brought in a painting of a snow scene that absolutely took my breath away. It turned out that the painting was by a turn of the (19th-20th) century artist Walter Launt Palmer. I dropped the remote and ran to the computer to look up everything I could find on this artist.
Palmer’s style is a blend of traditional realism and impressionism. He had been to Europe and the Far East and his work with colour reflected that. He was known for his ‘snow’. He was not officially a member of the Hudson River School but was mentored by F.E. Church who was. The establishment tended to ignore Palmer because he often stepped away from their brand of realism. I am not a particular fan of many of the Hudson River School and have largely glazed over 19th century American art as a result. This painting opened my eyes….
I admire art from many genres and every so often I find something that I might aspire to, and learn from. After an hour of combing the ‘net, I found some 30+ paintings, most of which were winter scenes, that made me want to pore over them and study them. Here is one called “Brook and Hemlocks”.
I get a real sense of the love and reverence Palmer had for the silent season. Many of his paintings are of places that could be easily be right here. He saw the richness of colour in reflected in snow. You will rarely see white in his paintings. Apparently there is a small showing of his paintings in Albany, New York this month at the Albany Institute of History and Art. There is a wonderful review here.
Like Palmer, I am passionate about this season. Many of my paintings from the last two years are of cold and snowy places. Perhaps my bones are not old enough to understand the longing for warmer climes during our coldest months, but, I find it difficult to imagine how I could be complete as an artist or a person, without a northern winter and lots of snow. There is more colour to be seen at this time of year, than any other.