Clouds - An Essay

Why am I so often drawn to paint clouds? They fascinate me on many levels, and exploring those levels might give some insight into how my mind works and where my spirit moves.

Painting by Karl Eric LeitzelFrom the time I was young, I was torn in my vocational decision-making between art and science. In the end, art won, but my interest in the natural sciences has never wavered. The scientist in me sees clouds by the names they've been given, "cirrus", or "cumulus", or "nimbo-stratus"; or notices the evidence of an approaching weather front in the changing sky.

The artist in me, though, sees light; the subtle translucence of varying thicknesses and densities, the orange glow around the edges, the purple-blue shadows. At dawn and dusk, especially, the light changes rapidly, both in quality and quantity, and so the clouds change with it, and the mood and colors of the landscape below are caught up in the sun's song of transition.

And then the philosopher in me sees the pattern of effect and counter-effect, and how the whole is suffused by the changing quality of light, and I think of how a society, an individual, a relationship, are similarly shaped and molded and illuminated by all of its shared existence in both time and space.

By this time I've ventured far from the clean, hard science I started with and the seeker in me sees the spiritual implications of the material realities I've been contemplating, and I consider how each of our spirits is a reflection of God's one true light, and how the quality and quantity of that reflected light is dependent upon a myriad of things, not the least of which are the decisions we make and actions we take through the exercise of our own free will. And somehow, all of that makes our fleeting earthly existence deeply, deeply worthwhile.

Clouds fascinate me.

Karl Leitzel, January 6, 2006






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page last updated 4/4/2013