New Paintings: The Ever Present Sky

My recent work focuses on the sky, its colors and moods—this is the start of a project I expect to last many years…

I am fascinated by the sky and it’s ever present existence above us and its impact both physically and emotionally.–When I was a child I remember being in the dark kitchen of my grandparent’s house in the East End of London. I looked up at a golden wisp of cloud slowly moving across the bright blue square of sky captured in the lone window. I didn’t have the words back then, but it seemed so meditative, so removed from everyday life, and so beautiful.

Following that moment, the sky and clouds became a part of my internal life, markers for important moments where I revelled in the experience of being alive. I remember childhood visions of huge golden summer cumulous clouds moving in stately majesty above the city rooftops; of storms over forests in adolescent hikes across Scotland; and vivid vermilion sunsets on both Alpine and Himalayan peaks…

Below is a selection of this year’s sky paintings.


Big Wide World (36×36 in. oil on canvas

Big wide world
2015, Oil on canvas, 36×36 inches

This scene comes from dockland in Virginia, somewhere in the Newport Sound area. It’s that summer cumulous from my childhood memories, only cooler and more threatening. Childhood is over, and we are all like the seagull here—small and vulnerable in the face of the world’s immensity.


Hey, Firmanent (30×15 in. oil on canvas)


Hey, Firmanent
2015, Oil on canvas, 30×15 inches

Sunrise, thank god. The storm is over and the sky clears. This is my first painting in the vertical format, I chose that shape of canvas simply “for a change”, but now realize there were deeper factors at work here. I love the sense of intimacy this format gives. It is like looking out of a window, but windows work the other way too—a view in to a private life. This format gives a sense of intimate connection with the subject matter, in this case, the end of a night storm and the coming sunrise.


Silent (36×36 in. oil on canvas)


2015, Oil on canvas, 36×36 inches

Sunrise over the desert. Silence. That moment before the night fully ends and the day begins. The monsters (do you see them?) are still there…. only quietened… and the stillness prevails.


Golden Morning (20×16 in. oil on canvas

Golden Morning
2015, oil on canvas, 20×16 inches

Caught this sunrise in the field in front of my house. I watch the sunrise every morning, and over the year the sun moves from left to right and back again across the woods at the back. From the angle of the sun here, it is clearly spring–the first golden promise of summer to come. Given the intensity of the light during this sunrise, and the sun reflecting behind the trees making them turn into golden fire, I chose saturated colors even more intense than I normally do. I wanted to capture that fleeting intensity when the sun just rises above the hidden horizon.


October Sunrise (10×8 in. oil on canvas)


Storm Over
2014, oil on canvas, 10×8 inches

Another sunrise across the same field on a small canvas, from October last year. It was one of my first sky paintings. It makes me think of the expression—red sky at night, shepard’s delight; red sky in morning, shepard’s warning. Last fall I was experimenting with large brushes, and I played with large brushes on a small canvas.

2015, oil on paper, 22×33 inches

This is really another “Storm Over” but I feel that the lone tree indicates the loneliness of existence. A single observer, marking the wide landscape. I used totally different techniques here: A palette knife instead of brushes, and 150 lb gessoed archival paper instead of canvas. I like the way a palette knife enables a different mood to be created, more dreamy and also more passionate.

I wish to thank the artists who have helped me develop my “sky painting” work… Christie ScheeleDonald ElderTor Gudmunsden and Karen O’Neil  — and I look forward to receiving more of their artistic wisdom in the future.

To see the full range of my Sky-related paintings, check out the “Sky”  tab in the “Portfolio” section of my website

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