Grey Gray Grey….The Last Day of 2011

On days like today, it's challenging to be a pleinair painter unless you like to work in charcoal. That's why I'm staying indoors for the 10th day in a row and working on paintings in my studio. Although some artists would tell you that you should be able to find beauty in anything, including a grey landscape, I disagree. It's the reason I don't put parking meters or power lines into my city scapes or landscapes. An artist is not a camera, and we can choose to edit. I choose to ignore the ugliness that city engineers and thoughtless planners construct to blight our landscapes…and I paint around them. I also choose to ignore the grey days and choose instead to focus on making my day brighter.

Many years ago I lived in Arizona where the sun shines 340 days out of the year. I never understood what a gift it is to see a sunrise or sunset until I move back here to the midwest. Thankfully, I've taken about 2000 photographs of the southwest and it's at times like these that I pull them out and flip through them for something to paint. Yesterday I did two small watercolors of Arizona sunsets and it brought the light back into my studio.

I also have another trick on sunless days like today. I have a Verilux light - also called a "Happy Light" that puts out full spectrum lighting. If you sit in front of this light for about four hours, it elevates your mood. Walking through my house, you can see the difference in the light color when you approach the studio. It looks like the sun is shining in that room alone. The real indicator that the light was working was when my sun-seeking cat jumped up on my crowded desk and attempted to lie down in a tiny empty spot in front of the light.

If all else fails to bring me out of my "grey" funk, I jump in the car and drive south until I get past the clouds and I stay there as long as I need to before coming back to the grey mitten. Most of the time, however, I'm fortunate that my "happy light" and a few paintings of sunsets usually succeed in bringing the color back into my life.


  1. This is a beautiful sky! Thanks for sharing your art and thoughts. I will look for a ""happy light" too. We just got back from Tucson, and I miss the sun so. It is unbearable there in the summers, but boy the winters are much nicer. Have a very Happy New Year!


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