Meet 12 artists who capture the elusive and changing skies
This story was featured in the August 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art August 2013 print issue, or get the Southwest Art August 2013 digital download now…Or better yet, just subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
“I moved to Colorado 30 years ago, and I am still, to this day, in awe of the vastness of the skies and wide-open vistas. THE VIEW FROM HERE is a compilation of the images that make Colorado so spectacular. I love the huge cottonwoods, the grasslands leading back to the iconic mountains, all topped by that seemingly endless sky. When I paint skies, I love to incorporate the colors of the earth as they’re reflected in the clouds. Clouds, just like snow, aren’t really ever white. Of course, I never feel constricted by reality when I paint. I feel such joy watching these extraordinary skies and hope that joy is expressed in my paintings.”
“During my trips to paint the Grand Canyon, I’ll often climb below the rim to work and explore. There are hidden caves, secret gardens, and unexpected views you can’t see any other way. I’ve been an active climber for many years and have the confidence to reach these fairly exposed places, much to the horror of my artist friends and tourists who might be watching. LIFE ON THE EDGE depicts a scene found on the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. It’s a rendering of a special place and a reminder of my adventures.”
Michael E. Clements
“Living on Maui, I paint en plein air most of the time. I work my way around the island painting some of the most spectacular scenes the world has to offer. This piece was painted from Hamoa Beach in Hana, where an incredibly lush tropical landscape meets the Pacific Ocean. This area of Maui offers views of the Big Island of Hawaii. The trade winds provide for clear skies and endless cloud formations. Here the clouds passing by offer brief showers, and I wanted to capture that in this painting along with the tranquil nature of the scene. My vantage point was actually in a cow pasture that stretches to the ocean, where I and a handful of fellow painters were granted access to paint for a few hours.”
Bethanne Kinsella Cople
“Often what compels me to paint a scene is not the actual subject but rather the atmosphere. A moody, rainy day, or a sunny day with captivating cloud formations, are usually the impetus to grab my paints and set out. PARTLY CLOUDY was painted on a recent trip to Colorado. As I stood at the edge of a dirt road, clouds of every color and form would dance across the sky at once, solemnizing the distant landscape with muted tones, then rendering the land vibrant with jeweled hues. I stood in awe.”
Principle Gallery, Alexandria, VA; Huff Harrington Art, Atlanta, GA; Gallerie Amsterdam, Carmel, CA; Carmen’s Gallery, Solomons, MD; William Ris Gallery, Stone Harbor, NJ; bethannekinsellacople.com.
“Painting landscapes revives the fondest of childhood memories for me of growing up in Southern California, where camping trips offered a continuation of my Ojibwa heritage. Of special attraction to me were those sublime times of day when sky and water were connected in a peaceful, interactive harmony.
“As with many wetland areas, the islands off the coast of central Louisiana are without rival for capturing the emotion of an environment. In this piece, I was especially drawn to the drama of the impending storm juxtaposed to the brightness of hope for the new day. Experiencing the scene, and then transferring to canvas just a small bit of God’s gifts to us all, is the utmost privilege and challenge for me.”
“As we walked in Valles Caldera in New Mexico one June morning, it wasn’t clear whether the day promised blue sky or rain. In the end, we got both. From the day’s digital photos came a series of paintings. At first, the paintings developed slowly, and I struggled. By the time I painted PROMISE, the process had distilled to pure joy.
“My pastel paintings typically start with the juxtaposition of two colors, chosen from my ever-expanding collection of pastels. I like making expressive, blended and unblended strokes. I often begin rapidly to give the paintings energy. I end gently for a sense of balance.”
Artworks, Austin, TX; Bastrop Fine Arts Guild, Bastrop, TX; Industrial Country Markets, Columbus, TX; Cañon del Rio, Jemez Springs, NM; Mary Nichols Art Center Gallery, Smithville, TX; www.enidwood.com.
“I have long been captivated by Maui’s dramatic skies and unique cloud formations, which form over the cane fields and the slopes of Haleakala. DAWN COMES TO PAIA was inspired by the early morning light on the North Shore cane fields as the sun rises over Haleakala’s lower slopes. There is a wildness to the skies on the North Shore as the unique cloud formations—caused by a delicate dance between the emerging light and the moist air driven across the land by the trade winds—are a continual source of delight and wonder. Capturing the emotion of this scene was my artistic challenge, as well as retaining the sense of the vastness and scale of the landscape.”
“This painting was inspired by the view from my studio window on our southwest Wyoming ranch. When we bought the ranch, we were concerned that part of the acreage was steep canyon walls and not suitable for hay production. But the glorious sunrises, moonrises, and cloud shows we have seen over these canyon walls have been well worthwhile.
“Beautiful things happen all day long when the wide-open Wyoming sky meets these rock walls. From my studio window, I watch cloud banks at sunrise; huge, white cumulous clouds at noon; and the reflection of a blazing sunset on the canyon walls in the evening, until a full moon rises from the rocks and starry glitter fills the sky—a painter’s dream.”
“Living in Santa Fe, I am surrounded by mountain ranges and horizons more distant than I ever imagined growing up back east. Every day tells a new story as the clouds seem to grow from behind the mountain peaks, billowing outward and catching the sun. The colors and shadows change throughout the day, set off by the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. I was captured by this place as soon as I stepped foot here six years ago. Gone were the looming hills and trees that blocked my sunsets. Here I felt vulnerable and free, and I could see how big it all really is.”
“I love to paint clouds. In fact, I actually have to stop myself from letting them become the central theme in almost any landscape I paint. When the monsoon season arrives in late summer in New Mexico, clouds dominate the sky as they start to build into towering thunderheads as the day progresses. BUILDING UP is my attempt to portray the drama as clouds mass above the Sangre de Cristo Mountains before the rain and lightning arrive. There is something about the contrast inherent in the brilliant sun-struck top of the cloud, the dark underbelly, and the warm reflected light coming up from the ground that I find hard to resist.”
“Painting sunsets sparks a passion and emotion inside me like no other subject matter. Perhaps I feel such a strong connection because sundown or dusk is my favorite time of day. A time to quiet your mind, feed your soul, and open your eyes to a world of beauty. The brilliant, intense color commingled with dynamic, ever-changing cloud formations keep me challenged and engaged. What captivates me, too, is that all the colors that make up a sunset are always complementary to each other. I continue to feel blessed with my relentless pursuit to bring joy to others and to nurture my soul by capturing the exquisite beauty God has graced upon us.”
“I painted SOLITARY REPOSE in an effort to capture and communicate a sense of vibrancy and life. In the Arizona desert where I now live, the sunsets are spectacular and awe-inspiring. I can’t help but respond as the colors are painted across the desert sky by trying to capture them on canvas. For me as an artist, the possibilities are endless. Each color choice heightens the emotional impact I wish to convey. I am always working first and foremost to perfect values and composition, but without a beautiful variety of colors, the attraction of a painting will be lost. It is one of the most powerful tools I have as an artist to influence others looking at my paintings.”
Featured in the August 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
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