Sunday, March 28, 2010

Ruminations About Skies

Have you ever thought about skies and how they represent so many things to the human psyche?

Even an alien landscape with a sky unlike anything in nature will activate hidden emotional associations for most people...

An artist will be aware of this on a conscious or unconscious level and use this to their advantage when creating an image.  It is a very effective mechanism for reaching people non-verbally and it is the inherent symbolism that allows it to work.

A wintry sky will feel cold and unwelcoming to the viewer, even if the other elements in the image are beautiful and stimulating. 

It can evoke a loneliness, a feeling expressed very effectively with minimal subjects within an image.

This is because that over the years, the sky has developed a symbolism in art and literature that it is pretty well impossible to separate it from. 

This is something that an artist has to think about in a conscious way.  If they are trying to project a certain emotional impression in a piece, they can totally destroy the desired mood by putting the sky into the wrong cast and activating subtle emotional associations.

A wide open sky will elicit many emotional reactions and associations to the audience, that it is one of the most powerful symbols that is guaranteed to have a sure-fire impact.
Think about it, a windy sky will give a feeling of lonely, endless vistas that leaves the viewer with a wistfulness. 

A photo taken of the from above will actually make the audience think they are looking at water...
Years ago, trying to capture this effect, I took a photograph from the top of a mountain in the interior of British Columbia, a place called Mount Lolo.  The photograph was showing something I had seen previously when I was in the air force and serving at a radar station on Mount Lolo. 

You literally felt that you could sail away over the clouds in the sky, they looked so much like water... 

It had a freedom to it that stuck in my mind for years, a strong symbolism that I felt compelled to travel back to capture after the fact.  This watery sky was so strong in my mind, that it lasted, and I think it might qualify as a type of universal symbol that can bridge language boundries.

1.  Photo by Teresa Young - near Mill Village, NS,  2. Alien Rotations by Teresa Young, April 2001,  3.  From the top of Mt. Lolo - Teresa Young, 1997,  4. Mahone Bay, Teresa Young, 2009,  5. Edmonton Sky by Rick LeBlanc,  4. From the top of Mt. Lolo - Teresa Young, 1997.

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Princess Haiku said...

Your conversations are intuitive, introspective and altogether interesting. I especially liked your post on age and beauty. Glad that you stopped to visit.

Dalifan said...

Thank you Diane! I was very impressed by the deep passion and artistic vision I saw expressed on your blog;-) I am honoured!


SF Girl said...

Wonderful post, Teresa. Yes, sky is extremely evokative, given that its expansiveness varies so much and is strongly connected to weather, which affects our mood and forms the very basis of our culture.

As a fine artist, you obviously study the sky a lot. I recall watching my mother paint the sky in her landscapes and being enthralled at how she captured mood, reflection, and deep emotion there.

Dalifan said...

Surely it resonates with something inside of most of us, emotionally, and I truly believe that the artist is expressing this for their peers in some odd way when a sky is distinctively used in a piece of artwork!

Thanks for the comment Nina!