The Art of Tasha Tudor

"Laura in the Snow" by Tasha Tudor
"Laura in the Snow" by Tasha Tudor

Few artists have been more in tune with nature than Tasha Tudor. Not only did she paint the natural world around her, she lived her life as in olden days, growing her own food, raising livestock, and spinning and weaving cloth for her family’s clothing. Her persona and her work now seem so quaint and old fashioned, many people forget what a great artist she was.

This is one of her most famous works, commonly known as “Laura in the Snow.” It’s a beautiful composition that first draws your attention to the girl’s face, then down her arm to the cat, then across the lines of her snowshoes to the other cat, and finally back to her face again. There is also drama in the picture — do the cats belong to the girl? Is she trying to befriend them? And the beautiful spareness of the open snow is a model of restraint. A perfect painting, from someone who has undoubtedly been on snowshoes herself.

Tasha Tudor died last year at the age of 92, and her art will be missed.

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The Old Mill – a study in nature

Walt Disney’s animated short film The Old Mill won an Academy Award in 1938, and it is remarkable not only because it’s a beautiful film, and pioneered the multi-plane camera, but also for how it depicts nature.

The mill itself is merely the backdrop for the story. The main characters are the animals — in the opening minutes we see creatures who live outside the mill (a spider, ducks, cattle, frogs, crickets) and those who live inside the mill (a pair of nesting bluebirds, doves, mice, bats, and a wide-eyed owl.) All are living peacefully until a storm sets in, and everyone ducks for cover.

The mill is forced to battle the elements, and it nearly topples over — but somehow all becomes right in the end, and nature’s balance is restored. We get the sense that the abandoned mill, built by human hands, is not long for this world and won’t survive too many more storms. But the birds, the mice, the owl — the creatures of nature will somehow always pull through, if left to their own devices. If only we would let them.