Winter Contrasts

In New England at this time of year, the term “winter wonderland” regularly applies. Sure, there are storms that bury us feet deep, and unappealing slushy days are by no means rare – but there are also the mornings I wake up to something like this:

photo of tall trees covered with fresh snow, and a cloudy sky in the background

When I saw this view the other day, I was struck by the contrast of the black trunks and branches against the delicate covering of snow on the reaching branches. It looked so enchanting and mysterious, I could not help imagining that I was looking out over a magical fairy forest – and not just the woods by my side yard. 

A few hours later, in between household errands, I happened to glance out again. 

… And the magical fairy forest had filled with blue sky and glowing winter sunlight.

photo of snow covered trees with blue sky and clouds in the background

The view is quite different, of course, with the addition of sunlight and shadow and color. Still, having looked back and forth between the cloudy scene and the sunny one, I can’t decide which seems more magical.

There is no one kind of winter wonderland, I suppose. Depending on my mood, sometimes I love the brilliant sparkle of sunshine on snow and sometimes I prefer the softness of gray sky and clouds against a snowy white world.

I have painted both kinds, too, and I expect I will again, with inspiration quite literally falling from the sky!

What is your winter wonderland? Sun and sparkle? Clouds and quiet? Whatever flavor of seasonal beauty speaks to you, I hope you find plenty of it – and I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing in mine!

photo of snow covered tree branches with blue sky and clouds in the background

Brightening the Indoor World

November is here, and with it has come weather fit to remind us that summer is long gone, and winter only a few short weeks away. As the chill sets in and the first snowflakes begin to fly, the outdoor places that I enjoy so much become a bit less… hospitable. And though I still love and admire the natural world, at this time of year I find myself admiring it more from the window with a hot cup of tea.

winter trees and forest edge in fog with bare tree tops and cloudy sky

Of course, that vantage point is also a fine place to reflect on the indoor space around me.

Perhaps you’re doing the same – noticing the empty spot on the wall that really ought to have something hanging on it, thinking this couch could use a cozy throw blanket – or maybe you’re searching for the perfect nature-inspired gift. I’d love to help! Here are some ideas from my collection.

Original artwork is perfect for wall decor, but there are other great options as well!

This environmentally friendly printed basswood wall panel featuring my watercolor “Over There” adds a homey touch to brighten your space. For other wall panel designs and more wall decor ideas, including clocks, canvas prints and more, check out the Wall Art section of my Zazzle shop, here

It is definitely cozy blanket season in this part of the world!

Wrap yourself in nature’s beauty with throw blankets and fleeces from Zazzle featuring original A B Foley Art designs. And for lots of other great home accents, be sure to check out my whole line of home decor items here

Would that cup of tea, or coffee, or cocoa be better in a bigger or more beautiful mug? Of course it would!

You’ll find my whole line of nature-inspired mugs and drinkware here

Whether you’re feathering your own nest for winter or checking off your holiday gift list, late autumn’s short days are a fine time to bring Mother Nature indoors.

Did I mention that original art is perfect for wall decor? 

It’s also perfect for sunsets.

Visit the A B Foley Art Shop for original paintings, as well as archival quality giclee prints and note cards.

acrylic painting of a bird on a branch in silhouette against and lavender and pink background
"Perching Bird at Sunset"
Late autumn sunset with pink and purple sky and bare trees in silhouette

Eagerly into Autumn

Today marks the autumnal equinox, and whether or not you like “Pumpkin Spice” everything, there’s something special about taking a moment to acknowledge a new season of the year.

Here in New England, the pumpkins are ripening, the pick-your-own apple orchards are hopping, and cooler nights are following days that are still bright and warm. If there is a perfect time of year, this might be it!

Yellow autumn sugar maple leaves and branches, viewed from underneath along the trunk of the tree

 

The trees are beginning to feel the chill. Leaves are just starting to change, now, and soon they’ll put on a show of color and fill the air with brilliant confetti on breezy days. The old grizzled sugar maple at the edge of our yard has decided to get a jump on things, scattering yellow and orange around its feet already, a few weeks before its buddies will be doing the same.

I confess to having a penchant for soft colors; grays and blues feature in a lot of my artwork – but nature’s fiery autumn flare has its own appeal. So although my latest painting is steeped in cool gray mist, the trees are dressed in their fall finest.

Maybe they’re a few weeks early. Maybe I’m just a little too eager to say goodbye to summer and hello to autumn. Or maybe we – and that old sugar maple – are right on time.

"Trees in a Misty Autumn Forest" -- Acrylic on Canvas

In Bloom

Spring is here! I know, because the hats and mittens are put away, the grass needs cutting, and most of all – because things are in bloom!

The crabapples are blooming.

crabapple blossoms and leaves

(The edible apples are also blooming here in Johnny Appleseed’s old stomping grounds, but since most of the apple trees in our own orchard are tiny wee babies, they don’t blossom yet. Maybe next spring.)

… And the violets are blooming!

common blue violet (viola sororia) flower growing in front of a gray rock

Our yard is full of common violets, and they are one of my favorite wildflowers. I keep meaning to do a botanical painting of these guys, and it somehow hasn’t happened yet. I think that will be my next project. So keep an eye out for a violet illustration showing up soon!

Another thing in bloom: Our dogwood tree.

branch of cream white dogwood blossoms on a background of forest trees and grass

This tough guy got its top third snapped off in a storm last year and didn’t miss a beat. And it’s so pretty. You deserve a close up:

close up of cream white dogwood flowers against a forest background

In editing the dogwood photos, I realized that I never even thought of painting a dogwood before! Cherry blossoms, I’ve done, and they sort of remind me of these – soft and delicate on twiggy branches. But dogwoods have a wilder, more untamed feel. I think a dogwood painting will have to be in my future. I’ve always had a fondness for these pretty woodsy trees. Putting it on the to-paint list!

That to-paint list seems to get longer by the moment. Trees and flowers are waking up and blooming in our quiet country neighborhood. For me, inspiration is, too.

Wishing you a beautiful and inspiring spring!

When Winter Hangs On

Here in New England the seasons are strikingly different and one can change to the next quickly, or slowly, or altogether erratically. I happen to enjoy the variable climate, so while I won’t claim that winter is my favorite season, I’m glad we get the sparkling snow, frozen lakes, and bare branches of postcard wintertime. If nothing else, it’s a good excuse to sip hot chocolate by the fire (and cause to appreciate the heat and humidity of summer’s dog days when they finally roll around).

But I told you winter is not my favorite. And it isn’t. Pretty to look at? Sure. But winter means snow to shovel, mittens to find, slippery roads to navigate, and it’s just danged cold and generally inconvenient. By the time February turns into March, I’m ready for spring… which around here, is still several weeks away. The sun is higher in the sky, though, the air isn’t quite so frozen, and there’s the promise of warmer weather to come.

 

At our house, there’s also maple sap to boil. photo of maple sap being boiled in a stainless steel pot to make maple syrup

We run a (very) small maple syrup operation in our front yard.  This year, that means a grand total of five taps dripping away, which will yield a couple of gallons of syrup by the end of the short sugaring season – just enough to keep some for household use and give a few bottles away to family and friends. But perhaps the most important part of maple sugaring season is that it’s a sign of spring. If the sap is running, crocuses, and green grass, and apple blossoms can’t be far behind…

 

Or can they? Just when I’m getting the spring back in my step with the warming weather, good old Mother Nature will dump another snow on us, and I’ll be outside slipping on the ice, snow-shovel in hand. And for a moment, I grumble under my breath – 

Until I look around.

photo of rocks with a covering of sparkly snow

 

When I do, I find that the world has been covered with a blanket of diamonds. Everything sparkles. The air is hushed and clean and brisk. Every sharp ridge or hard point is smoothed over with gentle curves. 

In the sun, it is brilliant. The snow-covered world stops me in my tracks.

 

Winter isn’t my favorite season. But when I actually open my eyes and see it, I don’t mind if it sticks around awhile… And if that means a couple more weeks of maple sugaring and more syrup to bottle, that’s fine too. This is pancake weather, after all.

tree branches covered with snow against a white cloudy sky

Take-off

Walk before you run, run before you fly, or so the saying goes. pencil sketch of a great blue heron standing in a water with its head lowered to hunt

… Only it’s hard to walk and run your way into launching a website. And building a website to share the work of your imagination and your own two hands can be downright daunting. It’s also exciting, empowering, and liberating, though.

I’ve been reminded, as this site has taken shape, of the way large birds look when they’re getting ready to fly: legs straining, bodies reaching, great wings spreading wide. It seems impossible. It seems they’ll never get off the ground – but they do. With natural strength that is as mundane as it is marvelous, they take to the air and then all is grace and beauty.

watercolor painting of a great blue heron flying

I can only aspire to manage some semblance of grace and beauty here, though I’d be lying if I said that running, leaping, flapping awkwardness of take-off didn’t look all too familiar!

I hope you’ll enjoy following along with me here as I share my artwork, the natural wonders that inspire it, and colorful tidbits from my home and garden. If you find joy in the same places I do, and peace in the places I find it, so much the better. If not, that’s okay, too – just relax and take in the view.

Welcome!