Winter, and especially January can be a difficult time for people, the stress and hype of Christmas is over, the days are still short, often dark and grey, and Spring feels far away.
But after many years of laminating this time of year, I finally have made peace with January and, by looking to nature, even begun to appreciate what this time of year can offer us.
Instead of mourning the bare trees and soil, I've noticed there is a slow, quiet preparation taking place all around. Dried seed heads, contain within them life for the year ahead, the trees which have long since lost their leaves may look like they are lifeless but underground their roots are busy and active, storing energy for those first leaves and blossom come the Spring.
This slow retreat and hibernation all around in nature has made me consider, that perhaps it our time to hibernate too...
Often there is pressure in life to feel like we should be out there all the time, in a constant state of Summer but understanding that we too need this time to rest and restore, that it can’t be Summer all year round and we must take the time to gather ourselves before the frenzied energy of Spring and Summer returns whenever that might be. To think about what is it we want to sow our seeds for, in the year ahead.
Sometimes it's only by allowing ourselves to stop and be still, we are able to see what it is we want to work towards. And realise what a gift January and Winter is for all of us.
Winter has got me thinking so much it's become the inspiration for a new artwork which I am launching through the Kickstarter, #Make100 campaign which you can pre order there now. You'll also find a beautiful film on the page, made by the brilliant wildlife film maker Robbie Labanowski all about me, Winter and the Starlings.
It’s become a tradition in Winter’s past, to go and watch the Starlings at our local patch at Ham Wall in Somerset. It’s moment which forces you to be truly present, staring hard into the distance and straining your eyes and ears to spot the first of the birds coming home to roost, hoping excitedly they might provide a display of their famous murmurations against the cool winter sky.
Many beautiful hours have been spent wrapped up in scarfs, with flasks of tea, friends and family, waiting expectantly for the Starlings to arrive and I've ALWAYS wanted to create an art project inspired by this time, so it felt like the perfect start point for my latest wildlife illustration.
Since taking part in the Good ship Illustration 'Find your creative voice' course last year, I've been getting back to my mixed media routes, adding gouache and coloured pencils to my traditional watercolour, being bolder with backgrounds and how I think about composition, and beyond spot illustration to create more scenes.
Working with only a limited palette of blues and yellows inspired by Winter sunsets also really helped me focus more on the feeling and mood I wanted to capture in the piece rather than depicting a realistic scene.
The gouache and watercolour 'Winter' artwork is the basis for the Kickstarter project and is available to buy as a range of cards, limited edition prints (framed and unframed) as well as a beautiful journal, all of which you can find on my Kickstarter page to buy at their 'launch' prices from now until the 12th of February but will also be available by in my shop later in the year.
I've never worked in this 'pre-order' way before but the idea is to take the theme of 'sowing seeds' through into my business model and channel some of the energy Winter and this preparation time encouraging people to buy during a specific period, giving customers cheaper 'pre-order' prices and helping gather orders at a quite time of year.
As a small business owner I have often found selling product complicated. In order to get the product at a price and quality you want to sell to customers you have to place large orders in which are just not sustainable for my business and not the way I want to work anymore- so this model feels like, if successful, it could be the way I can provide product in the future.
My Winter Kickstarter is the way I am sowing seeds for the year ahead, so fingers crossed it blooms!