After playing with fluffy clouds, I went for a drive the next day and was amazed at the dramatic cloudscapes that I encountered. This was the beginning of that spectacular weather that blew over several (not very securely anchored) pylons and plunged South Australia into a six hour blackout. I had to stop the car to photograph the extraordinary band of dark blue cloud that looked exactly like a mountain range in the sky.
Well it doesn’t look quite like a mountain in the photo, even with a bit of tweaking to increase the contrast. So I thought I’d try and recreate what I saw – and felt, in pastel. I was working on dark blue pastel paper, using the less textured side. I felt the lower clouds needed to be a dark purple, to contrast with the lurid yellow of the sky behind them. The vegetation had to be dark, but a dark brown looked better than a dark green over the dark blue background.
The thing that I saw and wasn’t able to photograph was the bank of white clouds that hung in front of the ‘mountain range’ for all the world as if they’d been drawn with strokes by a piece of chalk. The lower storm clouds also had a smoky appearance, so I tried to recreate this by blending yellow into a darker blue that I’d laid over the purple.
The final version has become strangely abstract and ambiguous: the lower storm clouds now look more like mountains behind a bush fire. You’ll notice that I raised the blue band higher in the composition and steepened the angle, to increase the drama and the variety of shapes. As a study, it seems to capture something of what I saw. If I did a much larger version, it might become even more abstract.