In the Bleak Midwinter

Through this post, I hope to offer some suggestions of how you can respond to the following Spellbinder Instagram prompt, and point you in the direction of some works of literature and art that you can consider for inspiration.

Write or draw about a snow day. What does the air smell like? What colours do the windows reflect? What sounds can you hear? Is your piece about humans or animals?

Suggestions for Poets

‘After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes’ – Emily Dickinson

Click here to read the poem.

Dickinson was an American lyric poet writing during the Victorian era. Her poem ‘After Great Pain A Formal Feeling Comes’ is an incredible exploration of the experience of pain which concludes with a rhyming couplet between the words ‘snow’ and ‘letting go’. The physical coldness of snow parallels the emotionally numbing torment of pain; this final couplet is an extremely powerful way of depicting surrender to this numbness. It is both ambiguous and tragic, and demonstrates how the natural world can be a canvas upon which we explore our own human emotions.

I would encourage you to experiment with what effects you can create through rhyme as a technique which can connect descriptions of the natural world with human emotions. Also try to explore the potential for metaphor, simile and personification in relation to weather patterns, such as snow. Although pathetic fallacy can often be an overdone and predictable poetic device, there is definitely something to be said for exploring the interrelationship between weather or climate and emotion. For example, many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder during the winter when they do not get enough sunlight. The weather and the number of daylight hours can have a direct impact on our mood, and so it is no surprise that many works of literature have attempted to project feeling onto the natural world and its ever-changing weather patterns. See if you can have a go at this.

Suggestions for Painters

Winter Landscape – Wassily Kandinsky

Click here to see the painting.

Kandinsky was a Russian abstract painter creating art during the modernist period. He allowed colour to break free from objects and thereby created the first largely abstract paintings. His ‘Winter Landscape’ exploits colour in order to show how the snow is not just white, but filled with many different shades as the sun sets in the background. It strikes me that the bright colours within this painting are even more compelling due to the fact that snow can often appear as a dull grey and white monotony in other less experimental artworks.

If you are hoping to respond to the prompt on creating an artwork about snow, I would encourage you to think about light and how it is reflected within a scene. The sun in particular can look very impressive over snow which sparkles in its rays. If you are fortunate enough to have been skiing, think about what it was like to travel down the mountain with the snow in the corner of your eye, and consider the effect of shadows on the snow. What did it look like? Perhaps you could try a modernist style, such as abstractionism, to create a really dynamic image.

I hope that you feel inspired to get creative!

Amber Kennedy, Editor-in-Chief

Photo by Riccardo Bresciani from Pexels

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