Painting in Winter


Painting in Winter


Landscape of Lake Erie Shoreline in Winter


Once in a great while I have a streak of energy. In those rare moments I hastily grab my painting kit and sally forth in quest of a picture - I don't always get it, but sometimes I do. The other morning as I sat by the sitting room window, I happened to glance out and saw the following. The sun was just rising and its first level rays touched the shifting fog bank that waved and undulated across the still surface of the lake. I say still, and yet a low smooth swell rose and fell in glassy lines. Near shore the water could be seen, but only a short distance out, the fog began, at first in stringy, soft veils that rose like spots of steam from the water and yet farther out it deepened gradually into the dense bank of mist. It was turned to pure gold by the sunlight, and the water was gold and palest of sea greens. Above, the sky was deepest cerulean blue softening to green, then pale salmon and at last melting into the low bank of yellow mist. One point stood out darkly, and around it shifted, coiled and broke the fog. It was a dream, and I hastily grabbed pastels and took a color note. Later I took a pencil note of the wave action around the base of the cliff, and began the picture. I expect to finish it before long, and have great hopes for it.

It is extremely difficult to work in winter. Water colors freeze out of doors, so I have to work in pastels, and either finish them in the open or in the house. Sometimes I do them all over again in water color. It all depends upon the subject and what medium I think is best suited to it. Winter painting is no cinch - the cold stiffens the fingers so that after half an hour I scarcely feel the chalk between them, and often it drops to the ground. I cannot wear gloves, they bother me so. And sometimes I come into the house with hands that are red as blood and aching, stiff and racked from cold. But it's all in the day's work so I don't mind.


Smith, Anna Clift


Chapter VI, "Painting in Winter", Van Buren Life


December 1904


Illustration/ Written Document

Original Format

Watercolor on paper





Smith, Anna Clift, “Painting in Winter,” Anna Clift Smith's Van Buren Life, accessed May 23, 2024,