My interest in skies began with colour-drenched winter sunrises. In the darkest moments of the year, the start of the day brings transcendent and exhilarating colour. I paint sky after sky, finding they are never exhausted. There is always another wisp of violet-blue illuminating a cloud, another band of faintest green at the horizon to explore. Each day varies with the weather and the season.
Not always saturated with colour, skies darken at times with heavy storm clouds. In Alberta, we watch the storms lurking on the horizon, creeping closer with every breath. The most violent storms are crushing: the wind bows us over, the howl deafens us, and the darkness blinds us. The sheer power of a storm exhausts our patience and resolve and brings us face to face with our frailty and terror.
And while things may never be the same – trees broken that will not regrow, a crop that is lost, flattened by the rain – something happens when we learn what fear really means. It can break us, but sometimes it can also create us. A storm can teach us not to fear a shadow because we have sat in the infinite dark. It also teaches us that when the sun does rise, its beauty is potent.
Most storms do pass, and our small world is transformed – whether the storm wracks the trees outdoors or the timbers of our hearts. As Robert Genn wrote, “It’s good to trust the skies. There’s a lifetime in them.”
In his letter Passing Storm, written in 2002. The second phrase he quotes from John Constable.