Yesterday was a fantastic cloud day. It was showering in the morning and I had every reason from the weather forecast to think that the cloud painting would be great that afternoon. I went out about 3pm and decided to set up first on the north side of the back. The wind was blowing NE, and the fastest direction of my two options was looking north. I knew it would be a challenge, but I had no idea how much. It was like being in two different races at the same time. The clouds were changing shape faster than a speeded-up lava lamp while they were blowing left to right like a train going by. I watched for a couple minutes, just to try and get a feel for it, then I picked a couple big clumps that didn't seem to be changing too quickly, and started throwing on paint. I couldn't even begin to keep up, and after a couple minutes I was just trying to pick shapes and add them in. After I got sort of a structure on the canvas, I started filling it in, one area at a time, trying to be sort of faithful to what was in front of my eyes at that moment. When it was mostly done, I switched over to looking at each mass on the canvas and then trying to find something like it in the sky, and use that as a guide to finish rendering it. I ended up having to invent a lot more than in my previous paintings, and my skills at this point fell short of being able to do that. But it was still a lot of fun, and a great experience, maybe like running the bulls at Pamplona, only I came out of this alive. Tired, but alive.
As soon as I covered that canvas I took it up to my house and moved my setup back to my familiar eastern view and started again. This time the wind was blowing right to left, and not quite as fast as in the first spot. I did the same thing, just watched them for a few minutes, then grabbed a clump and jumped in. It was just the same as the first time—painting as fast as I could, throwing the paint on, grabbing the most interesting shapes and getting the proportion of white to midtones to darks to represent what they looked like in the sky. I did one smart thing and took a couple photos, just a minute apart, once I had sort of a composition. It ended up the same way, with me trying to improvise a finish when everything I'd started with in the foreground had long since disappeared. And I can see that inventing in both these paintings, and it makes them different from the previous three, which were much closer to what was actually there.
You can't really tell in these paintings, but each view had a different feel as I watched. In the north, the big shapes seemed much closer, and the lower clouds resembled them, just farther away. In the east, I'm looking up toward the Cascades, and I can see the darkest undersides of the cloud masses higher up over the foothills.
I can't remember EVER having such an exciting day painting! As relaxing as it is to paint clouds that are less mobile, painting them when they're this dynamic is absolutely exhilarating. I will certainly jump at the chance to do it again.
This morning I referenced the photos I took yesterday and corrected an ugly spot in each of the paintings.