Winter’s Stark Beauty

This January I’ve been searching for the beautiful in the bleak landscape of winter.

“Everything has its beauty,

but not everyone sees it.”


Black and white tin type photograph of tree hole
A close up of a heart-shaped tree hollow at Bull Run

The first Monday of January began with a blanket of snow over unseasonably warm ground, and I’ve noticed that the mix of warm and cold creates striking effects. It’s a magical fairy look, as if a stage set were covered with fake sugary powder. I think it’s gorgeous and rare. The atmosphere is hazy from the lingering humidity. Once the ground and atmosphere are cooled down the effect is gone. Below was my yard the morning it began.

My gazebo after the snow storm began. It was 60 degrees the day before.

A little fox scampers across the front lawn.

Over the next two weeks I took opportunities to hunt for interesting images in the snow-covered landscape at Bull Run Battlefield. I wanted to transform my usual frantic hunt for landscape painting references into more of a meditation. Below some images from around the Bull Run properties just a couple of days after the storm. The snow was easily a foot deep in places and the temperatures were well below freezing.

I discovered this small, icy pond with elegant overhanging branches.

I love the look of snow on branches.

I love these leaning gates covered in snow.

A week later I decided to spend some time walking around the battlefield at the main visitor’s center looking for abstract design in the details of what might appear to be a dreary winter landscape.

Tree knot.

Clumps of dry grass on the ground.

Worn paint on a barn exterior.

I also discovered Surprisingly vibrant color in the tree barks and grasses.

A fallen limb on leaves and melting snow.

The rich color on a dead tree.

I love the sweeping lines here.

I enjoy these images as works of art on their own, and I’m also taking them into the studio as inspiration. Below you’ll find a few more of my favorite images. Comment and let me know where you find beauty in winter!

“Each moment of the year has its own beauty... a picture which was never seen before and which shall never be

seen again.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

The afternoon sunlight through the trees on the day of the January 3 storm. There’s still the fairyland look