If you are an artist, you probably don’t usually create something to cover up an unsightly something. Creative motives are usually to make something of beauty, with no real extrinsic value except to the creator. But every now and again art is called for when it can help with an ugly or unsightly view in your apartment. These two panels were just what I wanted to cover some tragic vertical blinds in my bedroom. I think vertical blinds in general are a bad idea, or at least an unsatisfactory solution to covering a large window or sliding glass door. I get that they are cheap and that’s why apartment owners put them up. But that’s the problem, they are cheap and often don’t hang straight, are difficult to open or close and/or just the fact that they are made of plastic from top to bottom makes me very unhappy. Besides, even with all those layers of plastic hanging down, light somehow gets in at various places where the plastic doesn’t quite come together because some pieces were slightly wavy and warped. So, I decided to cover up one such disaster completely with something I wanted to look at when I woke up in the morning, rather than…you know what I’m talking about. Even with that being said, I wasn’t sure that such a resolve to permanently block out a long and narrow window (110 inches by 43 inches) with a beautiful piece of art, no matter how unsightly the blinds, was a good idea. I had a double reason for covering it all up. Because even though I was on the third floor, the window in question looked out over an alley to other apartments and lots of power lines. I began musing what I would like to see out that window instead of what was actually there. I decided on a beautiful blue sky with soft romantic clouds made up of cerulean and ultramarine blue and titanium white. That’s what you see here.
First, I had to cut the canvas into two pieces because I didn’t have a large enough space in my apartment to paint one long large unstretched piece of canvas. I did have a perfect little spot in front of my refrigerator on the kitchen floor for each half, and I could reach all the way around each cloud square crawling around on the floor on my hands and knees. But I only had room to do one at a time, and I wanted each one to dry quickly, so I used acrylics. If you are a lover of oil paints and wish to paint with them, that’s up to you. Anyway, I didn’t fancy too many days of stepping over large sections of oil painted canvas when I wanted to get something out of the frig. I still think painting in the kitchen was a great solution. Besides, lots of apartment kitchens have windows you can open as both acrylics and oils can be rather stinky.
I think I would always recommend putting a beautiful cerulean blue sky with puffy white clouds up to a window with a questionable view and/or window treatment. Here’s how I came to this seemingly random artistic discovery. Mind you, everything I will describe here happened quite by accident with only the determination of making something beautiful for a perfectly utilitarian use. When I painted each canvas piece, I covered the blue sections with a slightly heavy layer of paint, but only lightly painted the actual cloud sections with white. (Remember I said I was in a hurry to not block access to my frig and this all went down fast.) I liked the idea that the actual gessoed white canvas would be part of the white cloud. The thin layer of white paint would turn out to be key, as you will soon discover if you have not already stopped reading this because it’s just too boring. Once everything was dry, I closed the blinds for good and hung up my clouds. The clouds had turned out to be a satisfactory solution for that room. But one weekend morning I woke up late and noticed the larger clouds were actually glowing from the tiny bit of light that still got in through the cracks of the blinds. I lay there a while and just looked at them. The cloud show got better and better because as the light coming through that eastern facing window moved higher in the sky, the lightness and brightness of the clouds changed. I was blown away. I wish I could say that I had actually meant all of this to happen, but it was quite random and therefore even lovelier. So remember, if you want this affect, be sure you are covering crappy vertical blinds that let in small bits of random light. Be sure to make the blue background very opaque and just add touches of cloud colors using a very thin mixture of paint. And also remember the vertical blinds are key because I actually used the top cornice of this window treatment to hang the sheets of clouds. All it took was 8 or 10 clothespins well placed and evenly spaced at the top. I forgot to mention that the reason I didn’t stretch the canvas was because I thought it would make the finished pieces too heavy and maybe pull the blinds right off the wall. I could just imagine the landlord asking me what I thought I was doing. I would have to admit that I had no idea what I was doing. If you don’t have ugly vertical blinds—lucky you. You could probably hang your canvas clouds with pushpins at the top of a window with an ugly view. But remember, once they’re up you’re done with opening or closing the window or any other window treatment that might be there.
Now I don’t live in that apartment and I have attached the cloud mural to a large wall in my bedroom with pushpins. And even though they don’t glow with the changing eastern light, I wake up each morning to these wonderful beauties. I’m thinking of stringing some twinkle lights on the row of pushpins at the top. Maybe it will look like stars or something. Already sounding a little too contrived, right?
You are probably wondering if we of SoCal actually have such blue skies and clouds here. Actually, I was just at my son’s for Thanksgiving in Santa Cruz and came home yesterday on the Grapevine. As I started to climb that steep grade, heading south, I wondered if there would still be smoke in the air from the awful fires we’ve had here (Woolsey fire in Thousand Oaks). It had been raining in Santa Cruz and was cloudy most of the way home. But as I got to the summit, the clouds parted to make vista after vista for cerulean blue sky and puffy clouds the rest of the way home. At one point there was a complete rainbow that seemed to hover beside my car, following me down the other side of the mountain. It was glorious and not a hint of smoke was to be seen—just a perfectly beautiful fall sky after a bit of rain. Oh, and I have never really seriously tried to paint a rainbow. You may want to add such a wonder to your cloud canvas. I don’t even know how I would begin to mix those colors because I think the colors of the rainbow are best done with tiny droplets of water magically lit by the sun.
Finally, now I have a wonderful space in my garage to paint the large vistas of my dreams. This spot is grand enough to paint something 95 inches by 63. And there won’t be any rolling around on the cold concrete floor because I have set it up to paint on one wall of the garage. I am working on how to set up every thing with the actual paints etc. and I think I have it. So, as soon as I can I plan to try one. Even thinking of maybe posting all of this on YouTube. Stay tuned…