A portrait of winter revelry

Some artists do more than paint childhood, they capture it.

After graduating from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. in 1933, Edward Christiana packed up his art brushes and returned to the central New York area where he had grown up.

Within a few years he took a teaching position at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, N.Y., where he quickly established himself as a nationally renowned watercolor artist.

Among his many images is "Winter, Sun and Kids," 1945. It was from a window or doorway of the institute that instructor Christiana captured this eyewitness account of a playful snow scene.

The setting is, in fact, on the school grounds. The lightness and looseness of watercolor really fits the subject. For what we see here is winter revelry.

Christiana's lively brush strokes are in step with the free-spirited activity of the children in the foreground. The snowballs are barely visible to the viewer, for the artist's focus is on the expressive, fluid forms of the revelers. There is jumping, rolling, sliding, stacking, and a snow angel in progress.

The overall effect is invigorating.

The rest of the painting frames the youthful activity and offers weight and dimension - like the tall, dark trees that move right off the paper and the imposing 19th-century buildings that provide an architectural strength along the sides.

The warm winter sun casts a lovely glow on the Italianate mansion to the right, and is very likely encouraging that active band of snowman builders and snowball throwers.

This painting is part of the collection "American Twentieth-Century Watercolors" at the Munson-Williams-Proctor Institute in Utica, N.Y. The collection is being exhibited at the Farnsworth Art Museum in Rockland, Maine, until Feb. 4, 2001.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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