I don’t like northern winters, but then again maybe I do.
In efforts to lower fuel bills, I currently keep the studio around 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 degrees Celsius). While it’s nowhere near cold enough for ice to form on studio surfaces, it does maintain a brisk and bracing work environment.
And for an Australian raised in a land where occasional frosts marked the dead of winter, studio life in the snowy Adirondacks is a definite challenge. Luckily I do have ways of meeting that challenge.
Over the many winters I’ve lived in the northern hemisphere, I’ve managed to cobble together an approach that not only allows me to cope, but perhaps even flourish.
Of course my daily work in the chilly studio is aided by suitable clothing; a longish down jacket, thick hat, and finger-less gloves. The latter enables me to manipulate brushes and keyboards by touch while still keeping most of my hands warm.
Obviously this current reality is worlds apart from my memories of Australian studio work. There most of my battles were with sweat that seemed continually poised to drip onto my current work in progress.
Warm clothing, however, only goes so far in enabling me to cope with the northern winters. To survive emotionally, I’ve found it necessary to make concerted efforts to consciously redesign and reframe my expectations.
Each year in late autumn, shortly after the trees have lost their leaves, I spend some time conjuring up internal imagery in which I’m free from all outward distractions. In my mind’s eye I see an extended period where grass cutting and yard work are absent and all temptations to lounge about in the sun have vanished.
And into that space I lovingly place a long and delectable sequence of creative endeavors which will fully occupy me in the coming months.
And then, almost by magic, the prospect of the upcoming winter becomes bearable, even enjoyable.
Am I deluding myself? Perhaps. But there is no denying the positive results of these reframing efforts. Each year a potentially depressing and destabilizing period is transformed into an uplifting and energized reality.