Mood Boards

Winter Themes – January Mood Board

January 4, 2022

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I'm an artist and designer specializing in textile prints and surface pattern design. I'm inspired by nature, travel and storytelling. Learn more about me here!


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Setting the creative tone for the month ahead

The first mood board of 2022! Winter Themes for January.

As we head into a new year, it’s such an interesting mix of energy. Renewal – fresh starts, resolutions, excitement – balanced with the quietude of winter. (Here in the Northern Hemisphere anyways!) During this time many things lay dormant and nature’s activity is often slower, smaller, a little hidden. I want to lay wrapped in all my blankets but also can’t wait to get outside for long walks.

So for this month’s mood board, I thought about the little mushrooms tucked under leaves in the forests of the Northwest and about the owl we saw out our bedroom window on New Year’s day morning. And the lovely layer of snow that covered everything for a couple days, creating contrasts of light and dark and interesting new shapes. I love the subtle colors of winter light, how it seems thinner somehow. In this region where we get so many gray days, even a pale sun is welcome.

Use this mood board as an idea generator for your own work or decorative pursuits. I’m excited to use this mood board as inspiration for my sketches and designs this month!

Image shows Skye's mood board for January: Winter Themes. Collaged images are of fresh snow on a thicket of branches with pale morning light through them, a beautiful barred owl on a branch, a cluster of tiny mushrooms on a mossy forest floor, animal tracks in fresh snow, snow on a fern, a cascade of shelf mushrooms against tree bark, a pile of natural dye linens, and a pile of textured white linens with dappled sunlight on them.  At the bottom is a five swatch color palette of an icy blue, a soft white, a taupe, a copper brown and a dark green-gray, all pulled from tones in the photographs. Text reads "January Mood Board" at the top and "Skye McNeill Studio" at the bottom, along with image credits to Skye and from Unsplash photographers: Philip Brown, Kelly Sikkema, Jesse Dodds, Susan Wilkinson and Svetlana.

Themes in the mood board

Winter theme one:

Owls are a popular motif in surface design, and rightly so as they are such strange and magnificent birds. I rarely see them in the wild, so when that was the first thing I saw in the new year, it felt quite auspicious. Notably, owls have some powerful associations, which bodes well for this year’s creative journey. Phrases used in owl symbology include: intuitive wisdom, strategy, knowledge, change, transformation, new perspectives for the future.

Winter theme two:

Mushrooms are also having a moment in design. While woodland motifs are ever popular and timeless, there has been a recent uptick in the aesthetics of both retro 60s psychedelia and the increasingly popular and sometimes controversial Cottagecore (or even more foresty and tactile Goblincore). But here in the damp pines of the Pacific Northwest, mushrooms receive year-round attention. Foraging, cultivating, spotting, eating and general appreciation of mushrooms as an amazing part of the ecosystem and resource for sustainability means mushrooms are often a hot topic. Meanings aside, mushrooms also have amazing textures and shapes to be inspired by. From the exterior edges to the delicate gilled undersides and the ways in which they develop.

Winter theme three:

Snow can be so softly beautiful and mercurial. It changes colors in different lights, subtly reflecting the sky back to us. It glitters in the sun and glows under the moon. After a fresh snowfall there is a muffling of the world, where you can more clearly hear the wind and see only the bravest of critters and birds making their way. As a painter, snow provides ample opportunity for tint shifts – all the pale blues, purples, pinks and grays one could come up with.

Winter theme four:

Blankets and natural linens are something I’m obsessed with year round, but in the early days of the year I pretty much always want to be wrapped in them. I love layering different textures of neutral blankets or playing with contrast in my home. But I also feel comforted by the visual textures of quilted, wool, or natural fiber blankets. Doesn’t a sun dappled pile of bed linens look like the most inviting thing on a chilly morning? The dips and folds are not unlike a landscape of snow, when all the shapes are softened.

Download a larger version of the mood board here.

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xo Skye

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