Monday, March 2, 2015

1533 Long Reaching Deformation Zone

The large arc of cloud is the leading edge of the warm conveyor belt approaching from the southwest. I was canoeing down current along Long Reach headed for Chip's Elbow. The simple arched cloud shape reveals the weather that was to unfold during the next couple of days. It may not be rocket science but I find the atmosphere to be pretty interesting. The chilly easterly inflow to the approaching storm was already giving me a bit of a tail wind. It would mean that my paddle back home would be a better work-out than my paddle outbound.

Notice the banding in the stable layer that must be perpendicular to the wind direction. If you watch the motion of these gravity wave clouds, you can discern where the col of the deformation zone must be. If the gravity waves are moving progressively downstream (generally eastward) the col must be upstream of your location. Conversely if the gravity waves are stationary or moving even upstream (generally westward) to you location on the ground, the col must lie downstream. The trick is to determine the wind direction in the atmosphere relative to the mean or average motion of the clouds comprising the warm conveyor belt. This analysis might take some time and more than one beverage. Good luck!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

1534 Stratocumulus Swirls

Clouds are shaped by swirls. The mean wind just move the clouds from Point A to Point B across the landscape. It s the differential winds that do the sculpturing of the cloud droplets. Lawrence Nickle always referred to the Group of Seven as painting "boulders in the sky". The outer edges of some clouds look as hard as lots of rocks that I have painted. This bold "boulder" approach applies to convective clouds for sure. If the winds from a violent convective storm should hit you, it would feel like a boulder. Lawrence's soft wispy cloud treatment was perfect for ice crystals and stratiform clouds like cirrus. So just maybe, everyone is right but remember that it is perhaps best to learn more about the clouds in your scene. Not two clouds are identical and cumulus clouds do not look like fluffy sheep heaped in the sky.
These are turbulent stratocumulus clouds shaped in a strong northwesterly wind over the west basin of Red Horse Lake. There are countless swirls in the sky and I will analyse a few of these for you. There is always a deformation zone associated with a swirl. These lines reveal the location of other swirls even though they might be exceedingly subtle. Swirls can be oriented along vertical or horizontal tubes and every angle in between. No matter how complicated and chaotic the clouds might appear, their shapes can be easily understood by understanding the swirls.

Friday, February 27, 2015

712 Sunrise on the DEF Zone

This is looking toward the east from the front yard. It was about 7 am in the morning and the Deformation zone from the previous evening was now well to the east.
It was still cold... The analysis of a deformation zone reveals much about the atmosphere and the approaching weather. I firmly believe that art is science and that science is art. The best scientists have an imagination to see and think outside the box. Outside is where innovation starts... and that applies to plein air painting as well.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

709 Snow Clouds

This is looking toward the northwest from the hill immediately behind the farmhouse. I had finished my chores and wanted to try to do something lasting. With the cold northwesterly winds, snowsqualls had developed off Georgian Bay. We pretty much miss them at the farm but every now and again a rogue and confused towering cumulus breaks away and brings us a few flakes. I liked the way the light peaked through the distant thin forest. There were also some subtle crepuscular rays. It was very cold on my hands and this encouraged me to work fast.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

667 Wolfson's Woods

This is looking toward the northeast from the 12th Concession just to the north of the 18th Sideroad. A home is quietly located behind the hill and the forest.
This was started around 2 pm. There was a cold west wind and overcast turbulent stratocumulus cloud and by the time I was done, there was a lot of drizzle in the air as well. I wanted to capture the strong vertical lines of the forest with the light sky and patches of snow peaking through between the trunks. The marsh with the snow and bull rushes and cattails in the foreground worried me but I am very happy with how they turned out. I didn't have to paint each cattail! This was a good thing because by the time I was done, I was damp and chilled to the bone.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

595 Keeping Your Ducks in a Row

A family of common mergansers gave us a wide birth as we relaxed on a narrow bridge on Lake Solitaire, northeast of Huntsville. We were walking the Limberlost Trail around Lake Solitaire and having a snack break. The merganser family were used to being kept in a neat row by the old hen.
The lead merganser is scoping the water for minnows…, as is the second from the last. The remaining mergansers are just happy to be kept in line ready to be called for dinner when a big enough school is spotted and corralled.
The water is heavily sun dappled and reflected. It was mid to late morning on a very sunny day. I was really happy with the impression and I had to pull myself away from working on the canvas trying to make it that much better. There is a fair bit of raw sienna peeking through but that's "okay". Sometimes less is much more and I think and hope this is the case for the ducks.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

624 April Melt

The family Chesapeake and Maine Coon Cat and I headed out again to paint and we didn't go very far. I liked the colours in the last of the melting snow and ice pellets as well as the light poking through the tangle of branches in the forest. The bees were flying once again with the temperatures peaking around plus 15 Celsius. Thus the reason for the strong and dramatic melt as well as the title.
The cat hung out around the easel while the dog chased mice and squirrels in the forest. Chauncy the boarded horse, just nosed around in the mix of straw, hay and manure behind the barn.

Shades of Grey

I started out my meteorological career by trying to get the most data out of satellite imagery. Admittedly satellite images were crude data sources at first but they proved that weather did not come in boxes or Venn Diagram intersections. There was much more information to be understood even from those early black and white and somewhat fuzzy images.
I started with “Enhanced Visible Imagery” trying to get the most out of the sunrise and sunset horizons. The human can discern maybe 17 shades of grey. The satellite channel offers 256 shades or energy levels. I wrote some papers on the topic and illustrated how one could reuse the 17 levels of discernable grey shades several times so as to use all of the 256 different energy levels of reflected solar radiation. This approach allowed the differentiation between convective cells which were tall and reflective enough to produce precipitation from those that were not. I had images to illustrate the approach. I thought it was great science but it was greeted by the sounds of crickets and not much else.
Now as I am resuming my career as an artist I have returned to my first passion. Grey is still my favourite. The human eye can distinguish 2.4 million colours. I am not making that up! The CIE, or “Commission internationale de l'├ęclairage”, established the "CIE 1931 XYZ color space" in 1931. These colours can be plotted and the human eye can differentiate between 2.38 million different colours. A few hundred thousands of these colours would be considered grey - way more than fifty!

In discussing my art I have frequently used the term “shades of grey” to describe some of my pieces. Unfortunately that phrase is now out of my vocabulary due to silly circumstances beyond my control. I have lost other really good words in the past as well and they are gone.  But happily my favourite colour remains “grey” spelled in the Canadian fashion with an “e”.
This painting is #1028 "Last Light - Gray" with the American spelling of "grey".

Monday, February 16, 2015

622 April Storm Watch

This is another in the series of April precipitation. A Winter Storm Watch had been issued overnight for a snowfall beginning during the afternoon hours. The family Chesapeake and I headed out to the neighbour's fence line and I parked myself on the top of the hill in the lee of the pine forest. The northeasterly inflow to the low was really quite strong and the wind in the cold conveyor belt was really moving the clouds along. My easel was in danger of being blown over more than once. I weighted everything down with my camera case and even that wasn't enough.

I focused on the sky leaving only the bottom slice of the canvas for the horizon and the distant Niagara Escarpment. The overrunning altostratus cloud was thickening up into nimbostratus and there was increasing amounts of snow virga during the three hours I spent on the hillside. I was true to the colours. By noon, thge Chesy and I were pretty much frozen with the wind chill. The temperature was hovering around minus 4 Celsius. Of course the wind chill made it feel colder.