Archive for February 1st, 2021


“Snow was falling,
so much like stars
filling the dark trees
that one could easily imagine
its reason for being was nothing more
than prettiness.”

― Mary Oliver

As I get ready to go out and plow the snow that has already fallen while fretting about the snow that is coming behind, I thought I would repost an entry from several years ago about an artist whose snow paintings always please me. They focus on the prettiness of the snow and not the work nor the possibility for peril that it brings. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Even though I am no fan of plowing or shoveling or trudging in wet and cold boots, the beauty and quieted atmosphere of snow is among my favorite things. And Nichols captured that in his work. Enjoy this rerun and have a good day, snow or not.

Most likely prompted by the recent weather here as well as a desire to try a slight change of palette, I have been doing a small group of snow paintings recently. I thought I would look at several other artists, especially those with a distinct personal style, to see how they handle snow in their work. One of the artists whose snow works really stuck out was Dale Nichols, who was born in Nebraska in 1904 and died in Sedona, AZ in 1995. He is considered one of the American Regionalists, that loosely defined group of painters whose work  for which I have long expressed my admiration.  

Dale Nichols- After the Blizzard 1967His biography is a bit sparse with but Nichols lived a long and productive life, serving as an illustrator, a college professor and the Art Editor of the Encyclopedia Brittanica. He also spent a lot of time in Guatemala which resulted in a group of work with Meso-American forms that is quite different from his Regionalist work and more than likely influenced the color palette of his normal work as well.  

But Nichols is primarily known for his rural snow scenes and it’s easy to see why. The colors are pure and vivid. The snow, put on in multiple glazed layers with watercolor brushes has a luminous beauty. The stylized treatment of the crowns of the bare trees adds a new geometry to the paintings. There is a pleasant warmth, a nostalgic and slightly sentimental glow, to this work even though they are scenes that depict frigid winters on the plains of Nebraska. Free of all angst, they’re just plain and simple gems.

You can see a bit more of Dale Nichols other work on a site  devoted to him by clicking here.

Dale Nichols- The SentinelDale Nichols- Silent Morning  1972Dale Nichols- Mail Delivery  1950Dale Nichols-  Bringing Home the Tree

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