Using Nature and Art to Get Through Winter SAD

Reader Contribution by Sarah Hart Morgan
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A Collection of Finished Ink Pieces 

I, like many other people around the world suffer from SAD during the cold, dark winter months.  For the last few years, I’ve been able to deal with it through long weekend hikes in our local National Parks and Forests but this year has been a little more challenging. Maybe it’s due to the pandemic (even though our parks remain open) but we haven’t roamed our normal spots this winter.  We have been staying closer to home and exploring our own land more. And while I’ve been enjoying it immensely, it doesn’t seem to be enough to combat the SAD.

Typically, while we are out hiking, I bring my camera along and am able to produce a lot of artwork during the winter months. But I haven’t been feeling the need to pick it up as much this winter. February can be the hardest month for me personally, even though it’s the shortest month of the year, it often feels the longest. To get through this long, dark, cold winter month this year, in addition to doing light therapy, I decided to do an art challenge for the entire month. 

Sycamore bark

Have you ever heard of an art challenge? Some of the more popular ones are 30-day art challenges, 100 days of art, Inktober, etc. Usually these art challenges give you a daily prompt to work with. The idea is to push yourself creatively, to get out of your comfort zone to grow as an artist.  Instead of doing a daily challenge, I decided to create a weekly challenge to get outside in nature; exploring, observing, and researching the plants I discovered on my adventures and then create inks with them.

If you’ve read my previous blog post on how to create ink, then you know how exciting it can be to see what nature can provide you. I broke the monthly challenge into three basic sections: researching, processing the plants into ink, and then applying ink to paper as a way to further connect to nature + your intuition.

Ink color swatches

I just started week two and have already learned a lot about the plants and specimens I chose for the challenge. In fact, I discovered something new about the Staghorn Sumac that I will be applying to my darkroom photography experiments soon.

Ink color swatches

I’d love for you to join me in this challenge, whether you are looking for something to do to get you through the dark winter months, are looking for a new challenge, or simply want to connect with nature more. The challenge is completely self paced, and if you find this article after February 2021, you’ll be able to find all the challenge content on my website (completely FREE!) for you to follow at any time that is convenient for you.

What do you do to get through the winter months? Read, complete home projects, cooking, baking? I’d love to hear, tell me in the comments below!


Sarah Hart Morganis a designer, photographer and author ofForrest + Thyme Apothecary: simple skin care formulas you can make uniquely your own. She lives in the Shenandoah Valley, where she works with foraged plants in her skincare and apothecary products, camera-less photography, using plants as a developing agent in film photography, and creating natural inks for painting. Connect with Sarah onher website, Instagram, FacebookandPinterest. Read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here./span>


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