Tonight the sky was filled with a painter’s clouds. I could just imagine Mother Nature taking a fat bristle brush loaded with oil paint and dragging it across the canvas of the sky. Not the most dramatic of skies I’ve seen lately, but  the subtlety of color and the scumbled texture of the clouds were of the sort that makes a fellow painter catch her breath.

The sky lately, and the slant of early evening light across the red earth has caused me to reflect on the fact that most of this year the work I’ve been doing in my studio has NOT been landscapes. Rather, it’s been mixed media — my “abstract” work, my “inner landscapes”. It’s been good, therapeutic work, and has helped me to work through some of the emotional struggles I’ve had to deal with this year (my father’s death in February being one of them). And it’s been necessary work as I gear up for my show next month at my new gallery. But my focus on this work has resulted in no time spent on my landscape paintings, nor working in oils for that matter. Not only is that because I’ve felt compelled to focus all of my energy on the gallery show paintings, but also with the extreme fire danger, I was relcutant to work with oils and solvents and have flammable paint rags around. (Indeed, a nearby neighbor’s house was tragically destroyed by fire in early June, thanks to properly disposed of staining rags spontaneously combusting in an outdoor trash can).

But I’m getting ready. I’ve been carrying my camera with me on my walks, and recording this stunningly beautiful late summer/early autumn we’re having so that I can paint this breezy season come winter. Honestly, I don’t recall a more lush or brilliant late summer. Frequent rains have drawn out from sleep all sorts of drought-hibernating wildflowers and greenery. I never knew these dry hillsides could be so verdant and colorful. The contrast to the death-white pallor of June is staggering.

Once my gallery show is behind me, I’ll be taking some time to plan my winter studio projects — landscape paintings key among them.