Study of Clouds over the Sea, Brighton, oil on canvas by John Constable, 1822
Like my distant relative, the English landscape painter John Constable, I find myself increasingly looking skyward. Along the Sonoma Coast, the sky is alternately either clear blue or opaque gray for most of the year. But as winter approaches and the storms blow in from offshore, we’re treated to dramatic cloud formations, appearing in waves that modulate our rainy season and score my days of working in the studio.
Though skyscapes remain subject to cultural interpretation, I’m drawn to them more for their timeless indifference. As perhaps the only remaining visual manifestation of wild nature, skies are the cause of human interaction and emotion more than the effect of the same (although this is likely changing). Studying the sky helps me to feel connected to past generations, contextualizing the effects of the built environment that is most often the subject/object of my work as a maker.
Ultimately, skygazing reminds me that nature does not distinguish between good and bad, and that all living things are subject to the same planetary forces.