Winter On Your Palette. Written by Johnston M. Mitchell.

An insightful post written by my husband, Johnston M. Mitchell, about my winter paintings.


Up in Michigan. Snow.


Pure white. Fluffy and soft. Virgin. Where no man should tread.


A wonderlust for snow and the loving pact that Mother Nature and Ol’ Man Winter have struck. Looking out at winter up in Michigan, snow symbolizes it. Our minds always interprets it as white.


Winter’s snow up in Michigan also makes for painting outdoors. Just ask Expressionist painter, Brenda J. Clark. She paints winter’s white differently.


Fishtown in Winter


I remember that blurry, snow-swirling day above Fishtown. Brenda was determined to be out in it, painting. So I hauled an old palette crate down to the guard rail along side of Lake Street, padded it with a couple of moving blankets, and then backed my SUV up to the crate and lifted up the back door.


Inside, she sat. Shivering. Frothy steam poured from her mouth as she drank hot cocoa and absorbed the melting marshmallows. Out she went to paint, and in Chicken Big ran to our gallery. I checked back with her every half hour, bringing something hot to drink. She painted all day.


But the snow ­– it was not exactly white. The circle road around the harbor parking lot moved in iridescent pinks and yellows. Fishtown’s buildings glowed red violet.


The following morning, Brenda had a head cold, but the snow swirled round in round in swirling pinks and yellows.


Blue Winter Breaking 

Snow can be blue, too. Scientifically, it turns blue when packed together and deep enough. The red light waves are absorbed and only the blue waves escape to reflect that color back in to our eyes.


On that warming March day on Leland Estates Drive overlooking the Manitous Islands, the huge snow base of two feet plus had begun to melt. It began to compact. Brenda’s palette for the snow that day reveals just such a blue hue. She didn’t study the electromagnetic spectrum before going out to paint that day, but came as close to realism as her Expressionistic mode (unknowingly) took her.


Blue Winter Breaking could also be a summer scene, suggesting the sun’s bright light bouncing off a sandy ridge above Lake Michigan. But it was a perfect winter day melting toward spring.


Panning the Manitous

This cold day should’be turned anyone’s hands a raw pink; instead these hues showed up in Brenda’s painting mid way up North Beach from the deck of a summer resident.


Maybe Mother Nature scolded Ol’ Man Winter for such cold that day, causing him dismay, only to see the color spectrum revert to a monochromatic pink.


We usually think of pink as hot, flush with emotion. Pure love. Pink roses. Pink flamingos. From now on, think pink drifts of snow on North Beach.


Blissfully White North Beach


By contrast, when Brenda painted Blissfully White North Beach, she recalled fondly, “I could’ve gotten a tan on the beach that day.”


It was a bright winter day glowing from the sun’s rays and it warmed up Brenda’s color preference.


The high level of reflectivity made North Beach glow in yellows. The sunlight bounced off of snow-covered sands and back into the air. Frank Zappa and his Huskies were no where to be found.


Blue snow. Pink snow. White Snow. Yellow Snow.


Snow is a kaleidescope for Brenda J. Clark in winter.


Brenda J.Clark Gallery

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