Serendipitous Cloudspotting

I spent most of last weekend inside as it's been bitter cold here. The sun has been bright and the skies crystal clear, but I miss my clouds. So much have I missed them that on Sunday that I found a few paint brushes and can of vanilla-color wall paint and decided to create a cloud mural on our guest room wall. The wall had been painted metallic silver a few years back by my then 12-year-old son. He's changed rooms since and that silver wall has been begging for something other than Metallica posters.

Knowing I wasn't talented enough to paint realistic looking clouds on the wall (think wall attacked by 5-year-old child with cotton balls). I started looking for images of  stylized ones I could copy. A short session on the Internet and I discovered the perfect swirling geometric clouds I could buy as huge stickers. Yay! No mess! No blobs of paint on the carpet! As I was typing in the second half of my credit card number to order them, I realized I was about to spend $57 on 8 stickers. Whoooaaa Nellie! How had I gotten this far down the wrong path? Ordering stickers on the Internet was a terrible idea--it was ridiculously expensive and it was not going to lead to an interesting story in my cloud book. I aborted the transaction, put my credit card back in my wallet,  and headed straight for the garage to get the drop cloth and can of paint. All the brushes we had for painting trim were too large, so I grabbed a few much smaller ones leftover from my brief foray into painting watercolor clouds. While I was in the garage, I stumbled on an old bucket of sidewalk chalk, so I grabbed that to outline the clouds before I committed to latex.

After a few hours with the chalk and paint, I created a very unrealistic and whimsical cloudscape across the entire back wall (top photo). On Monday afternoon, I decided to put on a second coat of paint and finish the project. The skies were again cloudless when I started and I assumed they would stay that way, but, around 4 o'clock I started getting restless. Something was calling me outside. I decided to drive over to a friend's house to drop off a note inviting her over for coffee later in the week. I stepped out the front door and was surpised to see a formerly blue sky covered with bands of cirrus clouds being whipped around by the wind (in at least two directions). I ran back inside, got my camera, and took several shots. This one (below) looks very similar to the clouds in Georgia Okeeffe's painting "Celebration" which is hanging at the Seattle Art Museum.

I pulled off the road on the way to my friend's house and took some more photos. Fun! The bands of cirrus were running in parallel lines from horizon to horizon. They looked as if they were converging at the horizon points. I would have told anyone that they were, in fact, converging at the horizons, but I have spent nearly a year now trying to flatten out the "bowl" of the sky, seeing that clouds of one type exist in the same plane, that the clouds hovering at the horizon line are not lower than the clouds directly above my head. Until recently, I have had a cozy "snow-globe" view of the sky--me inside of a hemispherical bubble. The two photos below show clouds converging at the both western and eastern horizons.