Sudden Blizzard – Red-tailed Hawk
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36 1/2” x 59 1/2”, acrylic. 1985
This is a picture of a storm -- a sudden blizzard. I enjoy all kinds of weather, depending, of course, on my activity. Sunny skies are fine for a little while, then, I long for some clouds. I like fog and rain and even storms. An exhilarating thing to do is to go for a hike in a blizzard . . . properly attired, of course. You know then that you live in the real world where nature is in command. Too often in our society we have built impermeable screens between us and the planet earth. We live in climate-controlled apartments, offices and vehicles. We watch nature on television. I think that it is very important to keep in touch with the sights, sounds, smells and feeling of the real earth, even if it means some discomfort. In fact, pushing our senses a bit helps us to realize that we are truly alive.

I saw that a blizzard was starting one particular winter day, so I put on my parka and boots and headed out to experience it. It was one of those sudden squall line storms that accompanies a cold front and hits hard and fast. Very exciting! Big splats of snowflakes soon plastered my clothes and skin. I could hardly breathe, and when I did, I was breathing in snow. I hiked to my favourite pine tree which was also being plastered with the heavy, wet particles. The tree had already been sculptured by the prevailing northwest wind. It was full of dynamic rhythm, even on a still, windless day. Now the storms and the weight of the snow pushed it even further in the same direction. The lee side had not yet received the snow.

In this painting, I wanted to portray a storm rather than a bird or a tree. I wanted you to feel the pressure of the snow-laden atmosphere. Air is not ‘nothing’; it is a reality which can be physically very imposing. I tried the flying hawk in many places in the composition and found the most exciting place, just about to be blown out of the lower left. He made a mistake taking flight in such a storm. Perhaps he was caught by its suddenness on an exposed perch. He is in a lot of trouble but may be able to turn and beat his way upwind to the shelter of the lee side of the tree.