Archive for the ‘Winter’ Category

Spring is just around the corner

Monday, February 15th, 2010


As a gardener and nature-lover, spring is my favorite season. But I’m in no hurry to shake off winter just yet. True, it’s got snow, and ice, and freezing temperatures (at least up north), and everything seems dead and bare. But it also provides a nice break, a time for thinking and looking inward.

In many ways, I find it the most inspiring season of all because of its minimalism. It doesn’t overwhelm the senses with color, it’s not splashy or teeming with distractions. In the winter, a twisting tree branch or a peach sunset can be a small masterpiece. A single red cardinal is like a miracle.

And knowing that nature is only sleeping, that life is still there hidden beneath the bark and under the ground ready to sprout again, can give you a feeling of hope that anything is possible, that any difficulty or situation can be overcome.

So while I’ll be happy when spring arrives, I will still savor the end of winter while I can. For I know that it’s only a temporary situation, and spring is just around the corner.

Snowflakes: miniature works of art

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

snowflake10Artists are inspired by nature, but sometimes nature creates perfect works of art on its own. Snowflakes are not only beautiful in their form and structure, they are also amazing because of the way they are created out of nothing, from moisture crystallizing around tiny specks of dirt. Their resemblance to plants and leaves is remarkable, and yet snowflakes are not living. Nature is filled with common patterns and structures if you look for them.

Here are some snowflake photos collected by Kenneth G. Libbrecht over at, where you can learn about the history of snowflake photography and watch a time-lapse film of a snowflake forming.The next time you see snowflakes fall from the sky, think of the tiny, tiny crystals that make up each piece, miniature works of art that are free and plentiful, if only temporary.


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Art © by John Lechner

Art © by John Lechner

Footnote: Recent Interviews

On a personal note, I recently did two blog interviews, where I talked about my books, my artwork, and all the other projects I’m working on. All of the questions were great and really made me think. If you would like to learn more about me and my work, follow the links below:

My interview at BriMeetsBooks

My interview at Wendy Martin Illustration


Come Again in Spring

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Come Again in Spring by Belinda Oldford, National Film Board of Canada

Continuing our snowy theme this month, we turn to animation.  Come Again in Spring is a short animated film about an old man who has a mysterious visitor one day who threatens his peaceful existence. This gentle film contains gorgeous imagery of the snowy landscape, and also the birds who are ever-present throughout the tale.

In addition to the beautiful animation, it’s also a great story, and I urge you to watch it through to the end. It is a film about life, about nature, and about the human spirit.

The film is based on a story by Richard Kennedy. It was produced by the National Film Board of Canada, and was directed and animated by Belinda Oldford.

The Nature of Emily Dickinson

Friday, January 8th, 2010

dickinson1bTo kick off this wintry new year, here is a poem by Emily Dickinson, who was no stranger to the outdoors. Throughout her roughly 1,700 poems, she described nature in her own singular way, as someone who has quietly observed it all her life. This particular poem is written as a riddle, never explicitly stating the subject, though I think you’ll guess.

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It sifts from leaden sieves,
It powders all the wood,
It fills with alabaster wool
The wrinkles of the road.

It makes an even face
Of mountain and of plain —
Unbroken forehead from the east
Unto the east again.

It reaches to the fence,
It wraps it, rail by rail,
Till it is lost in fleeces;
It flings a crystal veil

On stump and stack and stem —
The summer’s empty room,
Acres of seams where harvests were,
Recordless, but for them.

It ruffles wrists of posts,
As ankles of a queen —
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,
Denying they have been.


A New Year in the Untended Garden

Thursday, December 31st, 2009


It has been exactly three months since I started this blog, and I want to thank all my readers for their feedback and support. I have lots of ideas for the new year, and here’s just a peek at what’s coming up.

January will be “snow month” at The Untended Garden — all the posts will involve snow and winter.  Snow has always inspired art and writing, not just for its visual beauty, but how it changes the way we see nature, making everything seem new. It has also been used as a metaphor in countless ways, as something that both hides and reveals, that protects and threatens.

Another theme that I will delve into next year is the ocean, which is a huge part of our planet (two thirds of it!) and also has inspired writers and artists for centuries.

I will also feature a wide variety of media, including novels, poetry, picture books, drawings, paintings and films that deal with nature. I hope you can join the conversation, as we continue on our voyage of discovery!

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The Art of Tasha Tudor

Thursday, December 24th, 2009
"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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