It's April. Remember when you were in kindergarten, that meant that the class bulletin board changed from four leaf clovers to clouds with rain drops coming down and little umbrellas everywhere. So I thought I would help change my mental bulletin board by thinking about clouds. Along with shells, trees, leaves and waves, clouds have been a favorite subject in my work for many reasons.
Many times when my mind has been racing with anxiety with a thousand impossible tasks, looking up to see the soft, gradual movent of the clouds has had a valuable calming effect that has brought me back to the reality of what is true - the effortless rythm of nature. Another way to experience this is in the tai chi practice of "cloud hands" - aptly named for that reason - bringing our bodies and minds in sync with the soothing pace of the clouds.
The breathtaking hues of the sky, with their infinite range of softness and intensity, are a constant inspiration for the subtlety of color that I try to acheive in my work. You can never get bored if your favorite thing to look at is the sky.
In our daily lives, we don't usually walk around experiencing the universe as an ever-evolving, infinite array of combinations of particles, creating systems that move in and out of being. Yet the clouds make it easy for us to connect to this reality. At any moment, all you need to do to is look up to see the formations of water vapor emerging, shifting, changing color and form, and evaporating back into the ether. To capture the sky at any point in time, with a photo, a video, a painting, is to capture something utterly unique. It gives you the opportunity to preserve something that no one would have ever otherwise known existed. This, for me, is really one of the fundamental motivations behind my art: It has always felt like a special privilege and sacred duty to be engaged in the practice of recording these unique and amazing occurances and preserving them for other human eyes.
I was also inspired from a young age by other artists' treatment of clouds. I remember learning about Claude Lorrain in 7th grade French class. The idea that he became famous for capturing the rose colored light of dusk was so enchanting to me, that "Port at Sunset" stuck with me for the rest of my life. I also remember being awe-struck standing in front of one of Georgia O'Keefe's "Sky Above Clouds" paintings in the National Gallery of Art. To this day I never look out the window of a plane without thinking of that painting. More recently, a contemporary Dutch artist made a sensation by creating actual physical clouds in gallery spaces in Amsterdam with visually stunning results. And you can't think of clouds without thinking of Gerhard Richter... Ok, I'm going to have to save all of these for another blog post!
The clouds in my own work tend to be either loosely drawn or painted in a messy, kind of childlike way, or collaged photographs of the sky taken at various moments in my life. They are, for better or for worse, my humble attempts at paying hommage to the aforementioned greater truths as I tried to live and experience them in a very simple and direct way. I also created a cloud journal in 2002 as a photographic essay representing one lunar cycle of weather. This is a project I would love to undertake again, having much better equipment and software. So the work continues of learning the lessons of the clouds, an endeavor for April and for a lifetime.