Spotlight on Cloudscape

Cloudscape is my first collaboration print. Positioning the photograph used as inspiration alongside my drawing provides a much deeper insight into pareidolia and also makes the artwork more interactive. Do you perceive what I do or do you see it differently?

During the 2021 Cambridge Science Festival (affiliated with MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts), the festival organisers and I both shared the central cloud in this image plus my drawn interpretation on various sites of social media. Many people commented about that incredible cloud with descriptions of what they spotted.
Some examples of these comments are in the word cloud above.

Details from photograph and drawing

Pareidolia is a naturally transient phenomenon. Even tiny variations to shadows, light and perspective alter shape perceptions. I often come back to a drawing-in-progress and see something differently, sometimes with my perception flipping between one and the other.

I drew Cloudscape on watercolour paper with a high tendency to bleed and used a very low-resolution photograph for inspiration. That image came from A Cambridge Diary website and was taken by Martin Bond at Waterbeach during September 2019. There was very little in the image – apart from a dog and an aeroplane – that I researched prior to drawing. Mostly, I simply drew my perceptions using various line thicknesses, which is a feature of the technical pens I prefer, plus a sort of binary language of upside-down Vs and circles as infill for shadows and shade.

If you hadn’t noticed the aeroplane just mentioned, it is worth a closer look. What began for me as simply a fetching scene that frames a remarkable central cloud, ended up evoking so much more when I looked carefully. During the World Wars of last century, it was not an uncommon scene to find an aeroplane discreetly camouflaged in the border of a field, such as I perceived along the treeline of this drawing, perhaps awaiting the arrival of a spy to be discreetly flown out to enemy territory.

Waterbeach is also in The Fens, where there is a long history of storytelling and myths, particularly in years prior to the successful, organised drainage of the land. Back-in-the-day, frequent unpredictable flooding would wreak havoc for those trying to live off this very fertile soil. Animals, crops and belongings could get sucked up in boggy marshes or disappear into a low creeping fog, never to be seen again. It’s not surprising, when studying a fenland scene such as this one, if stories known or imagined come to mind.

Cloudscape is available to purchase as a limited-edition of fifty 16” x 20” fine art giclée collaboration prints. If you’d like to own one of them, here is where to visit:

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