Winter Is Good for the Soul
Philip Koch, Winter, oil on canvas, 36 x48 inches, 2021
If this painting looks like it's too cold that's good. It's a painting I made as a thank you for an early lesson cold winter gave me.
It's done mostly from memory of my childhood in upstate New York. We lived right on the shore of Lake Ontario. Summers there were sweet. While the water was always on the cold side for swimming that never stopped us kids. Even on the hottest days there would be a breeze off the lake that kept the air comfortable.
Come winter things changed. Strong winds blew down from Canada and vacuumed away even the most stubborn leaves that tried to cling to their branches. The Ontario shoreline quickly froze over with a glistening coat of ice. Splashing waves would gradually build up mysterious forms that looked like icebergs. When the sun shone down on this I found it spellbindingly beautiful.
We kids climbed all over the fantasy-like playgrounds these little ice mountains would grow into. While in summers we competed to see who could last the longest swimming in the chilly waters, winter allowed no contest. The north winds were just too piercing. Winter provided us an extraordinary spectacle, but so often allowed us a only brief moments to take it in. It was a chilly prod to open ones eyes wide and let feelings come in.
In our lives a rich and deep new feeling can come unannounced and sweep over us. Rarely do we have words to describe the experience. Often we have only a moment to grasp or savor it before it frustratingly starts to fade away. To me the work of a painter is to stop time. To nail down these extra-ordinary experiences. The painter invents a stable and concrete form that can hold these fugitive feelings. Then they can be shared with others.