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Winter Blues


Janel

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Greetings from the land of gray skies. For weeks and weeks we have had gray and cold, gray and dry, gray and wet, and gray and foggy days and nights to live with. I remember that Thanksgiving day we had intense sunshine for the cooking hours and a sunny, warm and fragrant kitchen to work in. That is about it.

 

This past holiday stretch of weeks have been more difficult for me than any year that I can recall. I am fine, but some days have been so joyless, even when I am busy with the daily activities. When snow storms approach, I seem to sense it with an even more somber frame of mind. Not every day is a glum one for me, but for a normally optimistic and patient person, any down days are dismaying to me.

 

The quietness here on the forum could most likely be due to the activities of the holiday season, busy with family, celebrations and travel. I am wondering if many of us are also not speaking about the unrecognized, unwelcome affect of little sunlight for months on end. Are we finding it difficult to get ourselves motivated to be as active as we are in other times of the year?

 

I am curious if anyone would share their coping strategies with the TCP members. I have my own theories, but I will wait to see what others might contribute.

 

Janel

 

ps. The weather calendar indicates that today's day length is one minute longer than yesterday's, so we are on our way again to summer!

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Last summer I was thinking about posting a "how do you stay motivated to carve during the 'outdoor' (i.e. warm) months" topic -- but it never got past the thought stage.

 

I find that I am more motivated during the winter months. I think it is because I can't be outdoors, so I have to settle for being indoors and studying and carving something from the out-of-doors.

 

During the summer months, I do little serious carving -- I usually end up carving while on camping trips, but those are usually small short projects (like caricatures) that can be finished in a few hours.

 

Early in my carving hobby, this waning of interest during the summer used to concern me, but I don't let it bother me anymore. This is a hobby for me, and I'd rather let a carving sit half-completed until my interest returns than to force myself to do it.

 

Kelly

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I don't want to sound overly cheerful, but I really enjoy the Winter. Today we are finally getting some snow to speak of. It would be different if I didn't get out in it, but I'm out snowshoeing 3-4 times a week, conditions allowing. It is kind of long(Winter), but there are four distinct seasons.

I don't know if it's helpful or not to suggest getting out. For some it just doesn't appeal. I couldn't survive otherwise.

 

One little thing we do is to mark the progression of the sun, at sunrise. This is done with a standing stone(set in the ground with about 3' above). The stone is set such that when we stand in a certain spot in our kitchen, it lines up with the rising sun on Winter solstice. That way we have a visual reference as it moves along the horizon as the seasons progress. You might think it would be depressing to see it move South as the days become shorter, but to be able to track it and know where the limit is, is somehow reassuring. This time of year there is little movement, but there is the certainty that it is going to happen. Cloudy days prevent tracking, but then it is so dramatic after a few days and you can see definite progress.

 

You could also do this with sunset, if you have the horizon.

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I replied here yesterday along with 'DanM', but our messages seem to have disappeared :)

 

At any rate, I'm sorry to hear about your slump. Like Kelly, I seem to be more productive indoors in the winter, when I don't have so many outside distractions as with the summer.

 

Is it that you're having trouble committing knife to wood and that carvings just aren't going the way you'd like, or are you fresh out of ideas?

 

I was thinking a little about your work and subject matter- cozy tree frogs, insects, leaf and bud forms and to me (to generalize a bit) they speak of Spring rebirth and Summer abundance. Perhaps meditating about Winter and its physical characteristics and symbolic implications could help. As I'm growing as an artist, I'm finding my subject matter is following the seasons- I just completed some chestnuts and am now working on a hibernating chipmunk. It seems to me that last year, you used January to do non-wood work with the help of a grant. Perhaps that helped you get through things.

 

Alernately, you could always clean the studio (make a little ritual of it, for the New Year), order supplies and print more business cards :P

 

May your clouds part soon,

Doug

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It is interesting to read your thoughts on this topic. Thank you for sharing. Doug and Dan, I am sorry that the entries disappeared, I had a look at the admin side of TCP but did not discover an admin action that removed the messages. I would like to have read them.

 

I have recollections of anticipating the onset of winter, and of retreating to the studio to work, but this winter it has not happened yet. Most years for me, the autumn is a glorious exit from the outside tasks which are both fun exercise and necessary got-to-get-it-done work. The freeze-up, end of out side green stuff work is welcomed and often is the liberation of time for indoor, creative activities, like carving.

 

My studio is a haven of reminders of the other three seasons, with tree frogs in an aquarium, crickets breeding in another for feeding the frogs and the two tiger salamanders in yet another aquarium (winter presents from a plumber who would not flush them into the sump pump/septic system he had installed that winter). Dried leaves, branches, bones, insects pinned to foam boards, desks with drawers filled with bits and pieces of textures, and samples of materials for inlay... a very rich and stimulating place to be. I can work on pleasurable and challenging projects as soon as I walk in the door.

 

Exercise, sunlight and carving time are all energizing and uplifting for me. Taking the first step, pushing away from the home and family responsibilities is the hardest one, and then momentum with carving will resume its forward progress.

 

I like the idea of your standing stone Jim. We live in a valley, so I know the places on the horizon where the sun rises and sets during the seasons, and imagine the arc of the sun from one horizon to another. It matters a great deal that we have not seen the sun for a month, and it is fun to know that the daylight hours are another minute longer than yesterday!

 

I do wish you all a happy and healthy new year!

 

Janel

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i thought i had not actually posted when i looked at the thread later that night,but it was strange for at least 2 post to go someplace................ anyway,my post just related walks down to the lake, ocassionally watching tow trucks fishing for a truck or ice house. if it gets a little colder soon the falls at Osceola get frozen ,make sure you take a camera. nice exercise down a hundred feet of wooden stairs ,but worth it when the falls are frozen. :)

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Just occasionally, I hit the GO button instead of the ADD REPLY button and loose the page. I have found that with my browser if I use the keystroke "COMMAND [" (on the Mac computer it is the apple key and the left [ key ) to bring back the former window. Sometimes I can recover the bit I have written and have a second chance at posting the message. The fact that two of you had your messages not post might have been beyond my speculation about what might have occured at the server level.

 

Anyway, the falls at Osceola sound like a nice place to visit when it gets cold. Thanks for the suggestion. In the Minneapolis and St. Paul area, I hear that there is little or no frost in the ground yet. Often Minnesota has 3-6 feet of frozen earth in the winter, for those of you living in milder climates. Lets go dig and get the garden ready! Some folks go swimming, well for a jump into the water through a hole in the ice, for fundraisers or for challenge in the coldest, cabin fevered crazyness days of winter. I'll keep my boots on thank you very much!

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A week has gone by, the days are lit with 14 more minutes of light. We have had four of the past five days with sun, all day long sun! What a difference! The worst part of this week was that I caught a mild bug, but awoke this morning feeling much better.

 

I apologize for the earlier glumness of this thread, but such a mood change exists with many more folks than just me, who live above the 45th parallel. It is good to reconize it, learn to understand and cope with it. It has not been such a drag the earlier years of my life, so now I need to learn about how to forstall it next winter! Check in with me next November and ask if I managed to remember to click into the right mode of operation for the season.

 

Meanwhile, Happy Aniversary to The Carving Path!

 

Janel

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From the Ms Gulf Coast our winters are very good to us the temp. for our low today was mid 30 s with a lot of sunshine to the mid 60 s our summer is the time to go inside with Air cond., to cool off. My inspirations seem to come to me all year, mostly when I do not have the time to spend with them and develop it to a new piece of art.

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Finally today I've put tool to metal, after an intense couple of weeks designing and thinking about designing new work. This sort of starting from zero seems to follow a seasonal sprint to the end of the last year. It's such a palpable and refreshing shift to actually use my tools at the bench. The brain work needs to be done, but I hope to find a way to spread it out in a more balanced way. I've settled on two projects, another fan shaped pin with a very different type of work than the last one and a small table screen cast in shibuichi with, I think, a design of snow covered pine in metals. Anyway, more to follow as these progress.

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