There is nothing more mesmerizing or hypnotic than a blue sky full of billowy clouds. The time-honored childhood practice of lying in the green grass gazing up into the sky and letting the mind wander is not new, but it’s one that I fear is not so common anymore.
It’s a shame, but today’s blue sky more often than not is the computer screen or the smartphone. In this regard, I am at times just as guilty as the next distracted product of this technological era, but I’m also thankful that I was raised with a deep appreciation for the outdoors and all of its splendors and still know how to slow down and enjoy what the natural world has to offer.
Clouds, in all of their shapes and sizes, give us precipitation and shade and they also serve as a reminder of the vastness of our own globe and the universe beyond. They can serve a practical purpose, warning us what kind of weather is on the way, and they can release our imaginations, taking on familiar and fantastical forms that shift in front of our eyes.
The English Romantic painter John Constable did a series of cloud studies which, to this day, represent some of the most masterful depictions of clouds done in watercolor, oil, and crayon. His renderings were precise and his descriptions empirical and scientific. Constable, who lived in and painted the countryside of England, had a keen sense of observation and a genuine reverence for the natural world.
Whether you live in the city, the suburbs, or the country, clouds remain one of the constants in our life. Be they the dark ominous clouds of a spring storm or the overstuffed white clouds of a winter afternoon, they will continue to inspire artists of all genres.
Brian Sylvester is a guest blogger on WallSpin, and an artist on Zatista.