Living in Western Massachusetts – A Snowstorm, Autumnal Color and Design Inspiration

Cover Story – "Living Spaces Magazine"
October 25, 2011
I’m a new board member of the IFDA – New England Chapter
January 30, 2012

For those of us who live in Western Massachusetts, our weather has been more eventful this year, than in many years past.

10-30-11: Our house in Western, MA as seen from the street


First, tornadoes touched down in the summer and caused much damage, followed by Tropical Storm Irene, and finally, our Halloween Weekend Nor”easter in October, that left so many without power for a number of days.  Summer, and more particularly Autumn in New England are typically much more tranquil!




10-30-11: Snow covered trees on our street the morning after the storm


10-30-11: Autumn leaves covered in snow…

Almost two weeks after the storm, the power-lines have been repaired and the work of cleaning up from all the trees and branches that fell is in full swing (and our street was lucky and we were only without electricity for 36 hours).  We are back to seeing our remaining fall colors, and warmer temperatures.

11-10-11: The path to our front door: Japanese Maple and Burning Bush



11-10-11: Just off the path – a red Japanese Maple








11-10-11: Back on the path: Burning Bush, Japanese Maple and Rhododendron





Going from the cold, crisp, and clear (too much alliteration??) weather just after the storm, with the white of the snow and the blue of the sky predominating,  back to the autumn hues of red, orange and yellow, has made me appreciate the warmth of those hues even more.  It”s not that I don”t appreciate the tints and shades of blue, I just don”t think I was ready to accept them against the coolness of white without any transition of temperature or time.

In fact, I have found myself thinking of the intense blue that I saw just after the storm against the warm autumnal orange.  I have been focused on these kinds of color complements even more, as a result of the storm.  So often, my design inspiration comes from nature, and the seasonal changes in New England have always reminded me to take note;  this year, even more!!




Complementary colors are those that are opposite on the color wheel – like blue and orange – see my blog post from last March, “Color Theory and a Breath of Spring 3-20-2011” for more details on color theory.

Itten’s Color Wheel












Not that I haven”t always liked complementary colors;  my logo is an example:










In fact, the winter paintings of American painter and illustrator, Maxfield Parrish (1870-1966) came to mind, when I was looking at the blue sky after the storm, and remembering the fall leaves that were still underneath the snow;  in his winter landscape scenes, Parrish often included orange hues, that when placed against the intensity of the blues of the sky, made what could have been a very cool painting, warm.  And the paintings are compelling….  These two paintings below are examples of this….note how the snow has warm undertones in the first painting, and the warm glow of the mountains in the second.

Christmas Morning, 1949

Winter Sunrise, 1949



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