Winter Guest Post by Julie Jordan Scott

December 30th, 2011

What would it be like if Winter never draped her leafless, cold, dreary days on your creative landscape?

Before you rejoice at the thought, hear me out. Let’s look at how Winter is a time of year that sets the tone for the rest of your artfulness simply by ebbing and flowing along with the shorter days and colder weather.

I know how it is to not have a snowy season AND I know how it is to live in a land of snow days, ice storms, gloves and layers of clothes.

Winter feels different in most of California then the way it feels in the colder states.  This difference oftentimes impacts our creative process.

Here in Bakersfield, we are frequently wrapped in cold dampness and thick, unfriendly fog. This morning it was 33 degrees. At some point overnight, frost left its trademark on my windshield.

Would you think it strange if I told you I envy the parts of the world that get sheltered by the cold?

Winter offers many gifts for Creative Souls.

Remember some of them with me: Winter offers the privilege of cocooning. Winter invites snuggles, it requests us to look inward. Winter says, “Gloom and less light are not only permitted, they are an important part of our creative process.”

One of my subjects of art last Winter and throughout the year has been a tulip magnolia tree standing in the corner of my neighbor’s yard. In January, I started nature journaling and she became one of my first practice sketches. By spending time sketching this tree, I got to know her quite well. In April, when I visited Western Massachusetts, I saw Tulip Magnolias just beginning to bloom. What a joy to see this highlight of early Spring twice!

It made me wonder what happens when a Bakersfield Tulip Magnolia experiences winter versus when a Massachusetts Magnolia loses her leaves.

Last week I visited the tree again, to get a closer look.

I was surprised and a bit saddened by what I saw.

The tree is almost bare of last year’s leaves yet while some leaves from last Winter/Spring valiantly hold on, a strange alternative phenomenon is happening as well: buds are beginning for the Winter/Spring bloom.

There is no time to pause between one season and the next.

This sweet Tulip Magnolia never gets adequate rest.

It doesn’t get to rest in the hollow hand of winter. She doesn’t get to rest her tree limbs on a frosty shoulder.

She doesn’t get to pause at all. She instantly drop one set of leaves and begins developing  the next set without a break at all.

There was a poignancy I felt, unexpectedly, as I visited the tree the other day. What started as excitement and fascination turned into an inexplicable sadness.

How often do we make the mistake of rushing from one art project to another without waiting for our spirit to reflect, to pause, to wrap ourselves in the wonder of what is, what was and what is coming next. Not now, but soon.

In Winter, we have a tendency to become contemplative. We allow darkness to help us sleep longer and more deeply under heavy quilts while wearing heavy pajamas.

If you have been resisting this profound pleasure of the Winter season, why not try it now?

Why not trade your practical shoes for wooly socks and sit by the fireplace under a blanket.

Stare into it and allow yourself the time to sketch without worrying what project your sketch will become.

Breathe slowly as you jot new ideas, allowing them to take root before you push them to blossom too early.

Enjoy this quiet time of reflection. Allow it to work its way into your work.

You may find Spring comes too soon this year as you come to enjoy the power of rest, the power of quiet, the power of allowing yourself the space to contemplate your art fully.


Julie Jordan Scott is a Creativity Coach, Poet Performer and
Mixed Media Artist who lives in Bakersfield, California.
She is the owner of Writing Camp with Julie Jordan Scott
where she inspires writers (and those who want
to write) to take their creative process to the next level.

10 Responses

I really enjoyed this post Julie. Thanks for giving us cause to rest in the bitter splendor of winter and remember to enjoy these shorter, cooler days and allow ourselves the time to get cozy and contemplate without pressure.

Such a beautiful reflection!

Such a lovely post! Looking forward to the winter months with no worrying, just being. Happy New Year Julie!

I really enjoyed this post, Julie. I find myself thinking about the next creative project quite often. I think I will give myself the gift of time to see what naturally appears.

Wow. Thank you all for your kind words. It was such a thrill to see my post here today!

Julie, this was a fantastic post. Thank for reminding me that the time between projects is just as important as the time spent working on a project.

Beautiful photos. I live in Florida. When the temperatures hit 60 degrees, I get my winter creative on… I really don’t think I need the snow, but you do make it sound inviting. Thanks for a great post.

Happy New Year


I agree…a bit of hibernation does wonders. I’ve long felt that creativity follows a cycle of going deep into the underworld and then re-emerging. Thanks for the lovely reminder!

Julie, thank you so much for your post. I plan to share with my mother who is an artist but in her winter years. I say that with a sigh for she is slowing down and her mind knows it. There is frustration there that she can’t do as much as she used to. I am working with her to support her love of creativity and not worry about what gets done and what doesn’t. With all that said, I am a native Californian and I revel in our California winters. Your descriptions of our mornings draped in fog with frosty underpinnings. The sunrises that that simmer the night sky into a pale shimmering silver blue at down. It is like no other winter scene I believe. Yes, no snow but beautiful in its own way. Thank you for reminding us that winter is not a sad time but a contemplative time – a time to renew, recharge as well as look forward with positive intent. As 2012 may be a worldly chaotic year, we in this community can bring love, hope and joy to the greater community with our art and hearts. Happy New year and thank you.

Julie, enjoyed reading your post… Very nice.

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