2016 Painting of St. Genevieve Church in Centerville, MN.
For weeks and weeks I have painted and repainted the sky on the same canvas.
Whenever I start a painting I have the exact image in my mind. I can actually see it on the white canvas. As an artist, my job is to make the image appear for others to see.
I like painting landscapes especially ones with vivid skies. I have always had a fascination with clouds. I remember spending many hours as a small child, resting on the lawn just watching them change shapes. Quietly watching clouds on a calm summer’s day is a very peaceful and relaxing activity, which I highly recommend.
For me the peace of clouds disappeared in an instant when I was about eleven-years-old. Cloud watching changed forever on a stormy day while traveling in a car on Highway 12 just east of Litchfield, Minnesota. At the precise moment we were along side a huge metal factory, a tornado dropped out of the sky and shredded the big building. Huge pieces of metal ripped through the air and rained down all around our car. The destructive power of that small tornado was horrible, yet so very awesome. From that moment on, I had a very healthy appreciation for power, especially power that originates in the heavens.
After experiencing that tornado up close, instead of looking for the peace in the clouds I looked to find evidence of their power. It is exhilarating to stand in an great empty field and watch a thunderstorm explode on the western horizon and come barreling at you.
It was even more exciting to stare down a menacing mesocyclone astride my Arabian mare. Animals are naturally much better forecaster’s of weather that humans. My mare could sense stormy weather hours before it developed. Her restlessness and whinnying told me it was time to saddle up. Down to the edge of farm we’d gallop and wait for nature’s big show.
Radiant white clouds billowing upwards with great speed and purpose announced that the guest we were waiting for so impatiently was on its way. Just as the first gust of wind rushed up to make our acquaintance, I would pivot my mare and give her, her head and we’d race the storm home.
It was all speed, wind, water and…..power. Intoxicating!
I like power. I love the power of storms.
So, my goal for this canvas was to paint a beautiful powerful mesocyclone with all of its whirl and swirl. No matter how many skies I painted none of them seemed to meet the vision of my mind’s eye.
Since, I don’t tend to give up, I had to just keep trying and trying to succeed. Becoming more and more frustrated with a process that is usually as easy for me as falling off a wet horse.
Last week a very good friend of mine, who knows me extremely well, called to say hello. I told her about my canvas of perpetual repainting and how frustrated I was not being able to produce the image I wanted. I explained to her that my goal was to capture the winds and the beauty of a great storm, but I wanted it to be a friendly storm.
As always she listened to my concerns very carefully and then responded, “So, you want all of the power without any of the destruction.”
Yup, that would be it.