Winter Solstice

oil on canvas  82mm x 180mm

began November 2016 – completed December 2016


This was painted to be used as a Yule/Winter Solstice/Christmas card. It is representing the shortest day of the year (in the northern hemisphere) and symbolising the returning strength of the Sun.


More on the meaning of this painting is below.


Winter Solstice


This painting is expressing the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere—also referred to as Yule, and which occurs shortly before Christmas. Although, at this time, I live in the southern hemisphere, I feel I will always be a northern hemisphere person. That is where I grew up, that is how I still think, and it’s the northern seasons and times of holidays and celebrations which feel the most natural to me, and it’s also around these times I feel the most ‘home’ sick for the other part of the globe.

The concept of a Yule, or Christmas, tree and the use of evergreen branches to celebrate the Solstice, pre-date Christianity. The Winter Solstice was a time to celebrate the return of the Sun and the promised return of life and vitality in spring after the Earth’s winter slumber. Yule logs were burned and lights were lit to symbolise the light, warmth, and return of the Sun’s strength.

I have emphasised here the Sun over the Moon. The line between representing the horizon, the Sun is rising out of the night and out of the Moon. There are six flames on either side, twelve in total to represent the twelve months of the year. A braided (plaited) flame—three flames to represent the trinity—rises up to form the trunk of the evergreen, symbolising the returning strength of the Sun. The evergreen’s symbolism is one of renewal and the continuation of life.

The star on top is a nod to the tradition to top a Christmas tree with a star. For some this symbolises the star of Bethlehem or the Pagan pentacle, but for me it is to represent that our Sun is a star, our star, and a symbol of hope, light, and creation.