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Art Inspired by Cloudy Memories

I love hearing how memories can build a meaningful connection to a painting, so I'll tell you a bit about a recent story bridging my own memories with a collector's childhood.

Combining Memories into a Painting

Color of landscapes, smell and sounds play a big role when I'm painting. It's a sensory thing and I tend to draw on inspiration from all the places I've lived. Painting tends to surface subconscious memories and several collided in this painting: "Rainbow clouds over the farm" which I completed in February 2022.

Rainbow Clouds over the Farm, Oil Painting on Canvas by Rachel Solimeno
Rainbow Clouds over the Farm, Oil on Canvas

I'm in an intuitive state when painting, focusing on the process of laying down paint.

This is how it developed in stages. At the beginning, the farm begged to be there, but the clouds developed with layers of color placed one on top of another with broad transparent strokes. The eery green light crept in early as if a dawn light was emerging over the horizon. I wanted the clouds to billowing, looming forward but for me the quiet farm below is just as important, leaving me wondering what the day ahead will bring.

In retrospect I find it interesting to look at the subconscious ideas that feed into a painting.

I grew up in Canterbury, a medieval city surrounded by countryside with gently rolling hills, arable farms and orchards. The large skies over farmland and over the Isle of Thanet always inspired me, as did the art of JMW Turner who painted here. Now I'm living in Seattle, and the landscapes of Skagit, Snohomish and Eastern Washington also inspire me in similar ways.

Colors of the Kentish Countryside

Kent, like Seattle gets sun and rain leading to bright colours. There is an intense yellow in rapeseed fields growing in summer, and purple lavender fields. Summer also brings bluebell forests and fields scattered with wild red poppies. These rainbow colors show up in the clouds I painted.

Turner Contemporary

I grew up visiting Margate a lot, in the Isle of Thanet south of Canterbury, Kent. My Dad lived there for many years. Here, the sky is expansive, and the land is flat and rolls into the sea. Now there is a museum the Turner Contemporary built there in Margate bringing re-generation and celebrating Turner's legacy and acts as a great resource for future modern art rebels.

Just look at the Sky! It is easy to see how this landscape inspired JMW Turner's paintings of skies and atmosphere.

I love this quote from the Turner Contemporary museum.

JMW Turner (1775-1851)
Built on the site where JMW Turner visited, you can see the skies that inspired much of his work from our windows. We exist to celebrate our Turner’s spirit of radical enquiry.

Turner was a rebel in his time, moving away from realism to a more impressionistic style. He was a true observer of the atmosphere and light. I connect to a spirit of radical enquiry in my own work. For me painting serves to enquire and delve into open ended questions.

Seattle Surrounding Countryside

In Seattle we are lucky to have the beautiful Skagit Valley to the North, and in Eastern Washington Ellensburg and Quincy are in high desert that opens to orchards that remind me of Kent. To the west we can also find lavender farms. The climate is so varied but two things we have in common for this painting are the clouds and the farms and a rapidly changing climate.

Childhood Memories of a Collector

I'm so happy that Clouds over the Farm just sold to a really nice guy who fell in love at first sight!. It's such a sweet story!⁠

The best part about it for me was how he instantly said he was drawn to the painting because he grew up on a farm, and it transports him to that place deep in his own childhood memory! That feels like a bit of magic to me, that we shared that story, and a painting can bring a shared joy and be so meaningful.

'Rainbow Clouds over the Farm',

Installation Shot from Collector

The collector just told me that it is now on his wall next to another farm piece by German expressionist Wilhelm Morgner I loved hearing about this historical art connection. Morgner painted prolifically in his young life and sadly died at 26 in World War. Many of his paintings also depict farmland.

The Air Signs Collection

I hope you enjoyed seeing behind the scenes a little. If you like clouds, you can view my series of other cloudscape paintings in the Air Signs Collection.

Until next time!

-- Rachel

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