Passion for Painting Clouds ~ Retreat Discoveries

Inspired by my Tuscan retreat…

I came home with a deep connection to my passion for painting clouds.

large cloud painting
This painting has rich, textured surface with lovely contrasts between translucent glazes, rough weave of Russian linen canvas, and bits of impasto paint. April Morning, oil on linen, 30″ x 40″, PURCHASE PAINTING>   PRINTS>


Though I have painted clouds for many years, I never felt truly passionate about painting them before. I think you can see the difference in this painting.

Can you feel the fresh air? Do you feel the cool breeze moving the clouds? Do you feel lifted up?

When I returned from Italy, I brought home half a dozen small cloud paintings. I was itching to swing a big brush on canvas grande!

This 30″ x 40″ Russian linen canvas was my ticket. I blocked in layers of translucent clouds with a large spatula-shaped palette knife. Then I waited.

A week later the canvas was dry. I’d been working on other cloud paintings and had new ideas about glazes. Mixing up some very thin, transparent colors ~ I scumbled atmospheric clouds and sky into the rough woven texture of the linen.

Passion for Painting Clouds ~ Retreat Discoveries

Signature Style & Passion

cloud paintings
April Morning, oil on canvas, 30″ x 40″, PURCHASE INFO> PRINTS> The sofa is available on Wayfair>

Scumbled is a painting term that refers to light over dark, with a scraggly brush marks. The calligraphy of a painting is very important, like a signature. This is an extension of how one would sign their name ~ without thinking!

During my retreat I had focused on painting this way. Thinking about my painting being an extension of my signature, I sought to release any idea of trying to control it. Similar to a signature, while we might wish to have it be legible, most often we simply make our mark and move on.

What if I could paint this way? I wondered.

This painting is the answer I received.

I rather like it! I’m glad I asked.

Clouds, Sunsets & Dream Series paintings>

Tuscany Retreat>

Stir Up Your CreativSOUP>


Silver Lining

What does a silver lining mean to you?

When I started this painting, it was not a sunset. I don’t even remember what it was, now that it is finished.

sunset oil painting
Silver Lining IV, oil on canvas, 24″ x 30″, Purchase Info>

The title was already penciled on the back of the canvas and this got me wondering. What was it that got me started on this painting?

It was rolled up with some other paintings in the studio. When I returned from my retreat in Tuscany, I found myself thinking about it. I’d done some small cloud paintings in Italy and wished to explore the idea on a larger canvas.

“Painting dreams feels like layering thin veils of color ~ all sparkly inside.”

Unrolling it and another along with it, I clipped them both on boards and set them on easels, side by side. Like a dream, I don’t really remember the middle part. I only remember painting very thin veils of color, one after another, until the painting looked like this.

That’s the way dreams seem to me ~ very thin, translucent veils, wavering in my being. Only the present one is clear. Then it is replaced by the next, and so on.

Until finally, I can see them all like a prism ~ and I feel amazed and sparkly all inside.

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Silver Lining Prints>


Why is it I’ve never seen THIS WOMAN before?

Tuscany was wonderful . . . and

I can still hear my sister’s question reverberating in my head.

“Are you going to come home a new woman again?”

Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture at Capabilo

I took her picture without a second thought.

Then returning home, I discovered a big beautiful colored woman had been in my studio.

Visiting Capabilo (on the southern coast of Tuscany), I photographed Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture of the woman towering above the city wall. Then returning home, I discovered a big beautiful colored woman had been in my studio.

Paintings left unfinished on my easels appeared more colorful than I remembered. I felt as though I had come home into someone else’s world. Better than I remembered; more vivid, peaceful, focused ~ yet unequivocally recognizable as me!

How could I have known who this woman would look like? Or that I was even looking for her?

This ‘new’ person is recognizable, yet why is it I’ve never seen her before?

Now I’m painting two new series that synthesize 45 years.

1. Clouds, Skies, Sunsets & Dreams

It happened quite unexpectedly one day while I was having lunch. I’d taken my sandwich and drink out onto the veranda. I looked up at the brilliant turquoise sky and saw a single cloud.

The important part here is that I wasn’t doing anything. I wasn’t looking for anything. I was simply being there enjoying the warm sun, resting.

cloud paintings
On a Clear Day, oil on gessoed panel, Purchase Info>

In a flash I saw the painting. I finished my lunch and brought my drink back to the easel and started painting.

Couds, Skies, Sunsets & Dreams series
Couds, Skies, Sunsets & Dreams series in process. Each painting requires many layers of thin glazes, so waiting time to dry before the next can be applied.

The colors mixed on the gesso like pastels. So excited, I painted two more. Returning to Virginia, I am painting five at once! The series will be my winter studio show January ~ March.


These colorful abstract paintings synthesize my passion for fiber, texture, and vibrant color. While rooted in pastels from my early years, and even more recent oil paintings ~ something indescribable in words is happening in this series.

abstract paintings
The Yellow Door, oil on linen, Purchase Info>

The first shifts started on small linen canvases while in Italy. Street scenes and landscapes became more abstract. No longer feeling constrained to painting one or the other, organic and man-made subjects fused in compositions woven together with color and texture.

abstract paintings
The Olive Branch, oil on linen, Purchase Info>

Somehow all those things that filled my life and kept me ‘busy’are gone. Permission to do only those things I am most passionate about, granted. I didn’t even know what they were ~ until my retreat in Tuscany.

Learn more about the Tuscany Retreat

Paint in Tuscany with me