Constable Sky

FTLComm - Tisdale - Sunday, July 15, 2001

From my perspective Saskatchewan entered and embraced the Romantic period of art as World War II ended and savoured the escapist realm of art at least until the late fifties. The profound affects of the depression on Saskatchewan people in all walks of life was followed by the incredible involvement in the second world war.

Saskatchewan is a patriotic place and its men and woman responded to the war so far away as though it were on their very doorsteps but when the war ended the mind set was trapped there in the romanticism I suspect this was true other places but since I was not other places I only know what I experienced.

The Romantic period of art was to preceded the romantic period of music and literature the time of Shelly, Browning, Schubert, Strauss, Wagner and Brahms. It seemed in the late forties that every calendar and every farm house had the Blue Boy by Gainsborough, prints of Turner and everywhere images by John Constable or other wanabe Constables. Waterfalls, landscapes, mountainsides and clouds. Our school had a huge print of the Reapers on one dingy wall and every room in my family's house had a print that celebrated the period.

If you delve into the movies of the era you will discover they too had one and only

one theme and that was escaping to romance, to idyllic relationships and happy ever aftering. The music of Crosby, Sinatra, Giselle MacKenzie, So Stafford, Doris Day, Al Jolson and Benny Goodman were mirrored with country/folk music of Wilf Carter, Eddie Arnold, Hank Williams and Patti Page.

Last night the sky was painted as though one of those painters from the Romantic period has been given a license and a monster paint brush to touch up the blue of the sky.

The pictures are presented on this page in order with the exception of the first image.

The wind was blowing from the North at 15 knots and the low cumulus clouds were shuffling along from the South West, high above were wisps of cirrus and in the East a whole set of marching towering cumulus off to give some rain to Manitoba.

With such dramatic beauty it is no wonder that my mind was filled with those images from the walls decades ago and the need to have such positive and encouraging images in view. Childhood in the thirties had left an impression on my parents that would forever mark them and determine their view of everything they experienced.

But clouds like these imaginary surreal bundles of coloured water vapour transport one from the surface to beyond known reality.

Turner the great British Romantic sky painter was actually mentally unstable and his painting have a turbulence to them that shows his often confused state of mind.

Gainsborough who preferred portraiture brought elegance and depth to his landscapes but it was John Constable who saw the sky not as something separate from the land but a part of reality, interwoven and enveloping.

If you would like to see what Constable did you can check out some of his prints at this web site. His biography can be found in several places, I liked this one which seemed to sum up his life pretty well. But perhaps this web site is one of the best as it gives you samples of his pictures full size on your screen. Constable sold few paintings during his life and it was not until he was dead that it was realised that he was a master. This site does a good job of telling that story. Here is one more just for good luck that has a good but short write up on the painter.

As I have said before seeing a scene like this is inspiring and sharing it with you is even more so as you get to see through my camera and my eyes the fragments of ethereal beauty that capture light and form but are barely neither.

In this remarkable shot, only moments after the one above the small fragments of cloud below the large one are tattered and in disarray lost as the swirling air zooms upward blowing a cloud bubble above them.

Below is the actual setting sun which was the secondary show as the light on the clouds was the main event.

Then at the bottom of the page is a small 180º QuickTime VR of the Eastern sky. To see this you must have QuickTime loaded in your computer and it can be downloaded free and will enhance your computer's capability.