It frequently amazes me that it takes so long for an experience to settle deep enough into my consciousness for me to have something personal to say about it. This painting, done in my studio before a window filled with the bright, warm light of spring, is about something I marveled at all through late winter, but wasn't ready to paint.
Throughout midwinter I watched the sun struggle above the horizon, just east of due south, and shine wanly through the birches that surround our home. On the shortest days of the year, it was barely strong enough to find its way through that arboreal screen, and it cast virtually no shadows on the field of unbroken snow between the woods' edge and our front door. Each year, sometime in early January, ironically about the time of Epiphany, I lose my faith in spring. I look at the snow-covered landscape I have been seeing for months, and though I know intellectually it will one day be green again, I can't convincingly picture that change. Invariably, I realize with some frisson that I can't imagine the landscape without its chill cover of snow.
But each year, just a few weeks later, the sun strengthens enough to cast strong shadows, and just as invariably I catch myself thinking, "Oh, yes, this will go away, and spring will come again." That day, each year, is for me Epiphany. My sense of that this year, in our new home, was especially strong, and day after day I watched the higher-rising, ever-strengthening sun beam its way through the tall birches toward our front door. No longer content to seep through the forest deferentially, it seemed to dematerialize the trunks themselves as it blasted its way through them, only the crisp, widening shadows testifying to the birches' power to deflect the light.
All winter long, I wanted to paint that scene--not so much what it looked like, but how it felt. But it was not until this week, with the snow long gone and the sun high overhead, that I realized I was ready to do it.