Last Saturday, the clouds marched into Edmonds, Washington. The Edmonds Bookshop hosted me for a noon-time presentation on my book, A Sideways Look at Clouds. I arrived a bit early at this wonderful independent bookstore, browsed for a bit, and one of the bookstore staff members lead me next door to the Cole Gallery. As if there weren't enough clouds in the sky or in my book...here was a gallery full of clouds, part of an exhibit entitled "Color, Light, and Atmosphere--Luminous Landscapes" featuring the works of Amanda Houston and David Marty.
I was thrilled to have so many paintings in one big room, rather than have to chase down the clouds in paintings displayed in multi-storied, multi-roomed art museums. No one would disagree with me that most of the paintings on display were of clouds, even though the exhibit was described as, "Stunning skies, glowing sunsets, quiet lakes and sunlit forests are part of the varied subjects in our latest show featuring a beautiful collection of landscape paintings..."
What? We know what makes the sky stunning. Clouds. We know what makes the difference between a ho-hum sunset and a spectacular one. Clouds. We know what often makes a landscape painting luminous. Clouds. As I've said here and elsewhere, we should really call them cloudscapes and cloudsets.
Terminology aside, Amanda Houston really gets the clouds. By chance, this Willamette Valley artist was in the Cole Gallery when I stopped in last Saturday, so I got the pleasure of meeting her and hearing about her fascinating with clouds in the Pacific Northwest.
Just look at this stunning oil painting (36 x 48) called "Breaking Through." There's the dark clouds in the distance looking somewhat stable and then there are the brighter, peach-hued close-up clouds that are doing something more dynamic.
Upon closer inspection, it looks like the clouds have been swept. This is exactly the look of clouds that are trailing precipitation--known as virga--as they deteriorate after a storm. Virgo evaporates in the atmosphere and never reaches the ground.
Look even closer at the artists brush strokes and you'll see--or feel, really--that she has captured the crazy energy of these clouds. Energy as lines and energy as color. Look how many colors she has included in her clouds. If you saw this detail of "Breaking Through" you might not guess that you're seeing a cloud. They should be white or gray or pink you might say. Well, sometimes they are but the more you look (and this is the goal of my book, after all) the more you will see that clouds capture all the colors of the rainbow.
And that Amanda Houston has captured one of the many spectacular moments in the life of a cloud. She has matched the intensity of this skycape with and intensity of her artistic vision.
So...if you find yourself in charming downtown Edmonds, Washington, be sure to stop by Edmonds Bookshop (they have signed copies of A Sideways Look at Clouds) and the Cole Gallery next door. "Color, Light, and Atmosphere--Luminous Landscapes" is on exhibit until February 12.