Renewal

“I heard a bird sing in the dark of December

A magical thing and sweet to remember.

We are nearer to spring than we were in September.

I heard a bird sing in the dark of December.”

-Oliver Herford

Winter: when Nature draws in upon herself to recharge for next year’s growing season, urging us to sync up with her slowed-down rhythm. As temperatures drop, so does our natural tempo. We are invited to rest, reset, and reconnect in alignment with nature’s own ancient cycle.

Two in-progress illustrations celebrating winter solstice (see the finished designs on my Instagram profile)

Winter solstice has come and gone, leaving in its wake the promise of longer and warmer days…eventually. First we must contend with the bitter cold of January and February, two months that always leave me feeling ungrounded and listless. 

To set myself up for success through the dark months, I took the opportunity over the quiet holiday break to clean out my tiny home and make space for this coming year. My brain functions best when unencumbered by clutter and excess, so purging digital files and donating old clothing, cookware, and art supplies has left me feeling quite peaceful and more prepared for the new calendar than I have been in years past. 

Less, it turns out, is most certainly always more.

My tiny home & studio window.

While I no longer participate in traditional consumer-based holidays, I do find fulfillment in honoring the beginning of winter and recognizing it as a powerful period of transformation. Taking this time to get organized and pare my life down to bare bones is vital. Admittedly, I live extremely simply anyway, partially because of the insane cost of living, partially from the trauma of moving 10 times in 10 years, and partially because I’ve learned I don’t actually need very much stuff. Fun fact: I’ve never even owned a TV as an adult! which is probably largely thanks to being a millennial streaming shows on my phone or computer, but the point still stands that over the years I’ve learned to live with little, and it suits me just fine. 

All of this being said, excess still has a way of accumulating as one lives a life. A good reset is necessary every now and then and I look forward to it every year. During this reset I literally look at each aspect of my life: creative project ideas, reading list, hikes I want to take, art supplies, clothing, health goals, etc. and think, “Is this still serving me? Does this actually feel relevant to me any more?” I’ve been surprised by how many old belongings and beliefs I was able to let go of this year, and how easily  they fell away. Past years saw me clinging to random bits and bobs, swearing “this year I’ll definitely use/create/do/etc. these things” and, as if I even have to say it, never did. While I know I’m interested in those things they just aren’t priorities right now and that’s okay. 

Now I feel I’m letting the detritus of my life be recycled in a sense. My history thus far is breaking down into a soil rich in story and wisdom, forming the foundation from which the rest of my life will root and grow. A renewal of sorts, ritualistic and reverent, based on finding closure and setting intentions for the months ahead.

 

Despite navigating the newness of this turning point, Charlie and I stuck to tradition with our years-old dedication to embarking on a Christmas Day hike. The trails are wonderfully empty each holiday, just how we like them, and the solitary stroll always serves to replenish me during the time of year when I need it most. This year we got to enjoy a warm but foggy day wandering along a river lined by rich evergreen forest. Stopping every few feet to admire the mushrooms, lichen, and moss unfurling all around us, we got a hearty dose of nature connection and felt as festive and cozy as a girl and her dog could hope to.

There is plenty I could was poetic–or perhaps not so poetically–about in a recap of 2023, but for now I’ll keep it short: I broke some deeply rooted patterns that were holding me back from engaging with my creativity thanks to many things, including therapy, an ADHD diagnosis, and unapologetically cutting ties with unhelpful situations, jobs, and people. I began painting outside while hiking and camping which proved to be just what I needed to reconnect with myself and with the natural world through putting brush to paper. Finally I found my way back to my first and truest love: wildlife illustration. 

Creativity keeps my head above water, keeps me thriving instead of just surviving. Armed with this knowledge, my intention is to maintain a consistent creative practice no matter what that looks like. It’s easy to try to force my work to look like something someone else made or to say it “should” look like this or that. As hard as it may be to accept it sometimes, it’s the act of creating that matters most. As long as I’m making. I exist. I am here. I am communing with something bigger than myself

So here’s to remembering that our creative abilities are vast and that engaging with art and nature on a daily basis is how we rewild our world and our hearts. Connecting with our creative selves is a noble act of resistance to a culture that raises us to believe otherwise. To live in kinship with nature is to be renewed, reshaped, reborn over and over again, living in reciprocity within this vast web of life we are inescapably part of.

What’s been happening:

Northern Saw-whet Owl, Black Phoebe, and Rufous Hummingbird prints.

As the leaves fell in a frenzy of gold and crimson this past fall, I too was drifting through the days in what felt like a kaleidoscopic spectrum of change that was both surprising and exactly what I’d been preparing myself for through some tumultuous years.  During the last two months of the year I completed 20 commissioned wildlife portraits, ordered some super cool fine art prints of some of the small bird portrait’s I’d completed in October, and reopened my online shop for the first time since the early days of COVID.

The excitement through all of this was immense and I am still so full of gratitude for everyone who purchased an original or print, shared my work, or commented and messaged me with words of encouragement and interesting nature conversation. It all makes a difference and keeps me afloat.

Thank you, truly!

 

Two Anna’s Hummingbird paintings from my end of year commissions, illuminated by the shadowy light of the pines outside my studio window. Gouache and watercolor on cotton paper.

What’s happening next:

  • My shop will reopen on January 2nd. I’ve restocked my Black Phoebe, Rufous Hummingbird, and Northern Saw-whet Owl fine art giclée prints. These will be available through April as an open edition then they’ll be archived to make room for new prints and other exciting work. Thank you everybody who ordered the first 30 of these and were patient enough to wait for this next round to drop.
  • I will continue to offer custom portraits and projects during the coming year. After wrapping up a couple more commissioned paintings and drawings by mid-January my books will be fully open for custom work. Please get in touch via email (jennjoslinart@gmail.com) to discuss!
  • This year I’m gearing up for more outdoor painting, refining my paint palettes and setup. I’ve discovered that adventure painting (creating art while out on the trail) has helped me connect with nature0-and with myself–on a level I had yet to explore. And I intend to explore that feeling and the wilderness a whole lot more once spring arrives. More on my palette choices next week for those of you who, like me, are fascinated by color and pigments.
  • I have begun the sketching/research phase for multiple large paintings that meditate on the theme of abundance. What does abundance mean in the context of nature and ecology? How can our own lives look and feel more abundant on a daily basis? What if we lived in a world where we ensured abundance for future generations? Much to consider on this subject, and even more to draw and paint. This will be an ongoing series through 2024 and I have been extremely excited to play around with this theme and the subjects I’ve chosen to help visualize it.

Thank you for connecting with me during another year of uncertainty and change. As we slide on into the next I hope there is more space than ever for abundant connection with each other, with ourselves, and with the wild world around us.

 

Happy New Year, 

Jenn & Charlie

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