Get Inspired!

Sometimes it rained, but mostly it was just dull, a land without shadows. It was like living inside Tupperware. – Bill Bryson

That was the travel writer Bill Bryson describing a winter in the UK.

I read that quote years ago and it’s stuck with me. I often think of it when we experience several grey days in a row.

I love where I live, but, like Bill, I don’t love the lack of sunshine during the winters.

And mainly that’s because of the lack of COLOUR!

In his classic text ‘Color psychology and colour therapy’ Faber Birren theorises that ‘unrelieved monotony’ of colour – or lack of it can be mentally and emotionally distressing.

So when the occasional sunny day does arrive it’s precious and amazing and I feel myself come to life.

As a person with a pretty developed visual sense, I feel it’s the bright, vivid kaleidoscope of colours, shadows and high contrast of a sunny day that makes it so uplifting.

And I really think that’s the main reason I love spring. We get more sunny days, and sunny days mean colour!

A spring walk with my dog Dexter. So inspiring!

A spring walk with my dog Dexter. So inspiring!

 

As this article by the BBC’s Mark Easton highlights, wellbeing statistics and scientific studies actually refute that warm sunny weather by itself makes us happy, but confirms that it’s the change from grey skies to sun that makes us experience a ‘lift’ and effectively brings us to our senses – literally:

Immediately following a rain shower, when the sun bursts out and sparkles on puddles through clean, fresh air, colours brighter and senses somehow keener, those moments are profoundly exhilarating. Perhaps it is not the sunshine that matters so much as the pleasure we get when our weather changes. – Mark Easton

Whether I’d feel as sensitive to and uplifted by colour if I was exposed to bright sunshine all the time, I just don’t know. Maybe one day I’ll live for a few months somewhere tropical and find out!

Paint as a sun substitute

But I know that during the many, many, grey days we have here in the UK, I am drawn again and again to the brightest possible colours to paint with. It’s one of the main reasons flowers have been a focus of my artwork (you can check out some of the flowers I’ve done here).

This week I’ve started this anenomie painting. It’s the brightest pink/purple you’ve ever seen! You can follow my progress by liking my Facebook Page here.

I love laying down the brightest hues really quickly!

I love laying down the brightest hues really quickly!

 

For me, the paint emulates the revitalising effects of a sunny day. It gives me a true lift.

Try it for yourself. If you’ve had a few cloudy days and it’s left you feeling a little flat, get out your paints, sketchbook and a large brush and paint a whole page or two with your brightest possible colours. Observe how it makes you feel.

and as a shade substitute?

And if you live somewhere bright, sunny and colourful all the time, please share with me your experience of painting and colour.  Are you equally compelled to paint with bright colours, or do you crave the muted, misty hues of cooler climes?

Let me know in the comments, I’m really interested to know.

A crash course in colour

If you’d like a crash course in colour and it’s importance check out this compelling little video which will also give you a ‘colour lift’ itself!:

Happy painting,

anna

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17 Comments
  1. Nandhini J Prasad 4 years ago

    Absolutely wonderful blog as always! Yes color does get me to be lively and the sunshine does encourage me to pick up my painting kit. Just trying to get started on the apple blossom tutorial! I recently painted an Iris and while at it I liked the ugly duckling stage rather than when it was completed.. And it was the bright sunlight which prompted me to have a go at it especially after a grey holiday appreciating the Art Nouveau and the gastronomical treats though!

  2. Anne Cremer 4 years ago

    Here in South Africa we’re pretty addicted to sunshine. The sun shines most days, all seasons! I think we’re as likely as anyone to used bright colours in our paintings, but we’re more likely to paint summery pictures than dull winter pictures. This could be because Winter is so drab, the sky’s a washed out blue and the grass is khaki, but also because Summer is so much longer and nicer than Winter.

    • yvonne faber 4 years ago

      Thanks for this wonderful opportunity to see all the art!
      I live in an area of South Africa where, winter or summer, the sky is so blue it hurts the eyes.
      Not to mention the orange of the sunsets. From pale yellow to deep red….
      and the mornings all pink and delicate.
      Hopefully I might upload a painting some day. Right now, I am too inexperienced to do justice to so much sunshine. Nevertheless, thanks again for this inspirational artworkby all. A visual delight.

    • Suzanne 4 years ago

      I feel just the opposite where i live: In the northeastern USA winters are long (5.5 months), very cold and very snowy. This year we saw mostly white, grey and black with occasional blue skies. Winters I paint bright colors to lift my mood.

  3. jenny stewart 4 years ago

    Your so right about colour, some of them take my breath away, that’s what made me buy your book, it arrived this morning. Also seeing your tutorials on utube.
    I go to art class once a week, and am the only one who always uses bright colours, nearly every painting, trying to tone it down a bit ! But they make me happy. So looking forward to reading your book, and attempting the flowers, they are all so luscious, have never tried delicate washes before, cant wait to get started.

  4. Cara 4 years ago

    I have lived in the cold, northern climate of Wisconsin, USA and the sunny, coastal California, USA. I find that monotony, whether constantly cloudy, or constantly hot and and sunny, are equally difficult emotionally. I definitely know what the writer means when he says the “lift” is experienced with the change of the weather. There is also some scientific evidence of how the barometric air pressure effects people who get migraines. My daughter suffers everytime a storm comes in and the air pressure drops. So to say that our emotions may be effected by the change in weather is quite believable to me. Our atmosphere (in so many ways) has the ability to influence our feelings. We as artists, however, know a secret: we can create a beautiful atmosphere whenever we most need it. We can bring beauty where there is none to be had. Happy lifting!

    • Anna Mason 4 years ago

      Thanks for this Cara. My husband and I have a friend who emigrated to California and complains about the monotony of the sunny weather. We didn’t have much sympathy but maybe we should! Really interesting comment 🙂

  5. Rene Cobar 4 years ago

    Wen is the next book coming out ???
    Cant wait

    • Anna Mason 4 years ago

      Hi Rene, I think it will be 2017 so a little bit of a wait but I’ll do my best to make it worth it! 🙂

  6. Caitlin Drummond 4 years ago

    First, thanks for your excellent & always inspring blog and videos. As to color (US spelling), I learn the most from nature, especially the greens. During our most recent, super cold, winter, I looked gratefully at the cedar and pine trees in our yard and imagined with longing the coming of new greens and the noisy yellows. The brevity of the perfectly perfect crocus & the snow drops blending into the coming of daffodils (I grump about the harsh yellows) give away to the delicious, outragerous tulips. I could do a color chart of my life, so many stories, regretting few — except those avocado appliances of the 70s. Thanks again for your generosity and talent.

  7. michelle 4 years ago

    My mom grew up in England, daughter of a coal miner. She married my dad and emigrated to the states in 1944. She lived all her adult life north of Seattle, where it rains and is cloudy and over cast a lot. She painted for pleasure in her retirement years and seemed to enjoy using bright color. I, on the other hand, live in central California, where the summer temps reach the 100 mark for weeks at a time in July, August and September, and the heat causes me to flee indoors to air conditioning. I will go outdoors in the morning hours to work in the garden or sketch, but I dislike the relentless summer heat, and love to paint gray skies, cool green meadows and soothing palates to help me cool down. Id love to spend a summer in England, soak in the fog and cool and green landscapes and not sweat once unless its because I went running or dancing! Give me cool colors any day.

    • Anna Mason 4 years ago

      How interesting Michelle! Thanks for sharing.

  8. Jackie Curtis 4 years ago

    This is such an interesting subject to me!
    I now live in Sunny Spain. I absolutely hate it when we have more than a few days of grey overcast cloud(just had a few and very windy). I never find the blue skies boring the only time it gets me down is during July and August it is not the brightness just the continual HEAT! I always want to paint bright colours so have really enjoyed your instructions. I have been lucky enough to just have a holiday in the Caribbean, OMG that has really made me want to paint bright colours. Thanks for your continual inspiration. Jackie

  9. Jackie Curtis 4 years ago

    This is such an interesting subject to me!
    I now live in Sunny Spain. I absolutely hate it when we have more than a few days of grey overcast cloud(just had a few and very windy). I never find the blue skies boring the only time it gets me down is during July and August it is not the brightness just the continual HEAT! I always want to paint bright colours so have really enjoyed your instructions. I have been lucky enough to just have a holiday in the Caribbean, OMG that has really made me want to paint bright colours. Thanks for your continual inspiration. Jackie

  10. Janine Cobb 4 years ago

    I live in Melbourne Australia, a lot of wonderful sunny weather, but they claim it rains five more days a year than London in Winter! In the heat of Summer when it can get to near 45 degrees Celsius I find myself craving to paint cool greens, beautiful large leaves! Very soothing in that heat, especially when only one room of the house has air con.

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