Category Archives: Research point: Sea and sky: Vija Clemins and video:

Research point: Sea and sky: Vija Clemins and video:

How can her approach help me with cloud drawing?

From Wikipedia: Latvian-American visual artist best known for photo-realistic paintings and drawings of natural environments and phenomena such as the ocean, spider webs, star fields, and rocks. Her earlier work included pop sculptures and monochromatic representational paintings.


At first view the waves look photo realistic, but on closer inspection they look ‘illustrative’. It’s difficult to describe… a slightly mystical magical sheen?!

However, the main thing that strikes me is the technical skill and patience in completing the picture!!!! That may be in meticulous copying of a photograph, or she may ‘create’ the sea a wave at a time???? And it’s actually a work of imagination.

Either way it’s a mental ‘noise’ I find hard to ignore and stops me appreciating the picture.




I guess my main reaction is… what’s the point?

If I want to see beautiful (naturalistic) cloud pictures I can go photograph them, or buy a photograph.

Again, the most striking element to me is the technical skill – but I want a painting that moves/connects/takes me to a different place/creates an emotion… in some way connects with my mind, soul or emotions.

Not one where my overriding reaction is awe at the skill.


That moves me to a slightly different thought, that clouds are abstract but real!

They don’t have a fixed shape (like a tree or a person) or refer to anything fixed in the real world apart from themselves.

Like a natural improvisation of tone and colour they are constantly changing; but unlike human improvisations (think jazz music) they are meaningless as they’re random and not born out of collective humanity. In the same way that a vase or a landscape is (of itself) content light, to draw a photo realistic cloud seems pointless.

So, for me, it’s more how they’re drawn, changed from reality, that makes them into art and worthy of viewing… how they connect with me as a human being.


I found the video interesting but it didn’t refer to her sea or cloud painting.

The bit I found most interesting was her ‘rock’ paintings. She’d collected some rocks when she grew tired of drawing and then fashioned rock shaped objects and painted them as rocks.

But they just look like rocks!

Maybe I’m defining my area of interest in fine art – that I need something that connects with my emotions, needs and desires… that’s connected to other people and society rather than an ascetic intellectual art?

That said… I shall have fun and do my best to produce realistic clouds. Though they might have a bit of me in them!!!