Little cloud

Little Cloud
Oil on Panel
© 2012 Margaret Sloan

This painting captures a fleeting hour of a Northern California morning on Windy Hill. The South Bay stretched gloriously at our feet, but I blinkered my eyes and found a less dramatic scene: the last of the morning fog drifting over a little hill. It was the kind of hill that I might have climbed when I was a child, peering in squirrel holes and looking for foxes.

These days I’m finding greater success in painting small slices of the view, in making the landscape more intimate. Limiting the painting to this small view made seeing the composition and the values easier. I was able to wrap my head around the color shifts, and win more arguments with the paint than I lost.

Maybe that’s the kind of person I am right now; my present tense has gotten smaller, more confined to small views. Once-upon-a-time I took epic (seeming to me) journeys, traveling across desert horizons and through mountains of rainforests. But now I stay home mostly, in the place where I was raised.

My friend Cynthia Brannvall (an artist whose wonderful work taps into some larger, softer universal landscape) wrote to me, “One of the things that I find so beautiful about your work are the little, beautiful moments of everyday life…in this day and age when we are assaulted with stimulation and virtual realities, I find the little and ordinary gestures of real life to be more and more precious.”

I guess for me, small is comfortable. I like the up-close view, the things seen at trailside. I find value in landscapes that are familiar to children, in the possibilities of squirrel holes, foxes, and little white clouds.