Painting the skies

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I’ve realised that many of my favourite places have beaches img_0542facing west, and are perfect for sunsets. Holidays to Vancouver, Croatia, Oban and Fionnphort have been particularly memorable for some amazing sunsets. On my current trip in Scotland, even with some weather during some days that could definitely be described as dreich, the evenings have been beautiful and so far I have had four nights with four amazing sunsets, and taken probably over a hundred photographs on both my camera and my phone. Sometimes I think the phone actually captures the colours better, even with all the fancy settings on my camera.

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I’ve long been fascinated by beautiful skies, and took up the theme for my GCSE art exam where I chose a section from a poem by Fleur Adcock called ‘Leaving the Tate’. It’s well worth a read or listen, but the part which inspired my sky-scapes was this bit:

And such a sky
You wonder who painted it – Constable? No:image
too brilliant. Crome? No: too ecstatic –

a madly pure Pre-Raphaelite sky
perhaps, sheer blue apart from the white plumes
rushing up it (today that is,
April. Another day would be different

but it wouldn’t matter, all skies work.

I’m not enough of an art buff to know which artists have captured skies in particular ways, or to really hazard a suggestion at who has portrayed skies like the ones I have seen in Scotland in the last few days. Do make a comment with a suggestion if you have any. img_0537-1I did buy some placemats with paintings by Jolomo – John Lowrie Morrison whose work from the Highlands and Islands has caught my eye before. This one of a beach in Colonsay has perhaps the closest match to my lovely beach views but my photo doesn’t bring out the teal which I hope will match my lounge!

The question of who paints the skies also starts off a song by Stuart Townend. This YouTube version has some nice pictures but it’s quite a hotpotch. It makes me want to make my own version when I get home and have access to more of my photos more easily. Unsurprisingly perhaps, he focuses on the splendour of Jesus, following King David from millennia before:

“The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.

They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.”

‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1-6‬ ‭NIVUK‬‬

Such beautiful skies do make me praise God, and the glory of creation as a whole is one of the things which convinces me that there is a God and the universe is not just a matter of coincidence. I’m not sure if I think God spends time painting skies – part of me wonders if he’d delegate the task to a angel or four, or I suppose simply create the conditions where sunsets are a regular phenomenon. But then trying to understand that God is outside time as we know it, there is no reason why he shouldn’t take time to enjoy creating more beauty for us to marvel at.

One other way I enjoy engaging with the beauty and colours of nature is by having a go at some art myself.  The view in Oban is one which my Mum and I have both tried to paint over the years, and the colours in my acrylic from 2006 are quite similar to this year’s pastel effort.


Not surprisingly, God’s rather better at sunsets than I am, but as with most of life, I think he likes it that I have a go.  

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