Clouds are the perfect projection screen, not only for plays of light, but also for the plays of imagination. They seem to preside over the earth like colossal entities, playing out natural dramas as they wage wars, besiege the land, cast shadows and hide things from sight. They can be massive atmospheric architecture, the balconies for Tiepolo’s immortals. Clouds can masquerade as great snowy peaks, startling us with a different sense of scale or proportion, only to dissolve without a trace!
I wait for when the clouds are larger than anything on land, when they loom low and yet tower into the brightly washed sky after storms, dwarfing all that is petty in us. Because they are elusive and always different, clouds present a painting subject which I will never exhaust.
A poem by the Tang Dynasty Chinese poet, Wang Wei:
In my middle years I have become fond of the way.
I make my home in the foothills of South Mountain.
When the spirit moves me, I go off by myself to see things that I alone must see.
I follow the stream to the source.
I sit there and wait for the moment when the clouds come up.
Or I may meet a woodsman,
And we laugh and talk and forget about going home.
Clouds are a wonderful metaphor for the nature of the mind: ever changing, potentially pure and elemental, essentially empty. In painting clouds I to try to remember this, to understand the unspoken message of air and water, to rise above surface concerns.