I don’t know what it was about this image as a photograph that stayed with me from the time I took it. It’s that sense of my tiny self, smaller than one of those dots in the valley below, under the huge sky above, the sense of infinity as night draws down, and eternity as a warm autumn day changes over to cold winds and an incoming storm.
I finally painted it. I had always envisioned this and other sky paintings as moderately large, and 16 x 20 was a good size for this one. I used a piece of smooth deep charcoal matboard coated with my favorite transparent pastel ground, Golden Acrylic Ground for Pastels. I painted it freehand, no tracing or measuring, as if I was standing out there watching the scene en plein air. It’s as close to the real thing I as can get in my studio. And, of course, I would not be painting this en plein air under those conditions, so it works for me.
I love amazing skies and that was my first draw to the idea for the photo, but the tiny lights below became an integral part of this image and gave it its title.
I took the photo in 2011 and shared it on my photo blog with a narrative, but the image stayed with me. In 2016 I looked it up again and wrote a poem and named my painting after that poem. Now as a painting it’s hit the major categories of my creative efforts.
Here is the narrative:
Rain had fallen intermittently all day, but the day had been steadily dark and cold even without falling rain. But as often happens on long rainy days, the clouds broke at about sunset to give a view of faded blue sky trimmed along the edges with heavy clouds, offering reflected light but no direct sunlight. Suddenly the autumn leaves shone again even in the cooler light. I carefully watched the light, deciding that when my errand was done, or as soon as I could, whichever came first, I’d head for my favorite ridge to photograph what there was of the sunset, hoping for lots of red from the humidity in the air and sunrays from the layers of clouds breaking up, but I’d take what I could get.
No such dramatics were in the plan for this evening, but I felt the valley settle into night as I watched the clouds march steadily from the north, hearing only the wind as it swept from far beyond the horizon across my face, tugging at my hair and skirt on the hilltop where I stood, one tiny dot of a figure in this complicated and beautiful landscape, chilling my fingers with the first real cold of winter in its direct and determined path. In the center is Carnegie, somewhere in there is my house, and all of the familiar streets and scenes of my days reduced to a few amorphous blots of color, light and shadow.
In just minutes the north wind had carried the cloud cover over the valley once again like a blanket, leaving the valley in deep shadow but for the dots of light collected in the velvet darkness, small shreds of red showing through at the horizon; the sun has not given over yet, there is still some fire in its day.
And here is the poem from 2016:
How Small Beneath the Sky
Tiny toy buildings,
fluttering ribbons of roads,
arcs of light that illuminate our night are but pinpoints in the velvet earth below;
How small beneath the sky.
Poem © Bernadette E. Kazmarski
This is my painting from Day 7 of my February 2020 Personal Creative Challenge. See other paintings in this and other painting challenges on the page Creative Challenges.
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This month’s desktop calendar
Wallpaper calendars are free to download. You’ll find them below along with instructions.
If these sizes don’t work for your device, or if you have problems, please let me know. Often I can troubleshoot the reason an image won’t download or won’t load on your device, but if I just can’t figure it out I can just email it to you and hope that works.
How to download and use your desktop calendar
- Click on one of the images below that matches the dimensions of your monitor to open the image in a new page.
- For desktop computers and laptops, right-click on that image and on a desktop computer choose “save as desktop wallpaper” or “save as background” or whichever option your operating system gives you to be able to do this. You may also simply save it to your hard drive and set it as your background from there.
- For mobile devices, press on the image to bring up a menu and choose “open in new window”. Go to that window and press until a menu appears and choose as “set as wallpaper” or “set as lock screen” or whatever you’d like—this is slightly different on all devices.
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Each month I feature a piece of artwork or a photo from the archives to the present day, tell its story, and set it up as a free downloadable desktop calendar for just about every electronic device available.Other items with the same art or design To find all items on this site with the same art or design, use the search box for the name of the artwork and you'll find all that's available.
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© 2020 | www.PortraitsOfAnimals.net | Published by Bernadette E. Kazmarski
All images used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission. Please ask if you are interested in using one in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this image or a product including this image, check to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit “purchasing” for availability and terms.