Sky Paintings

By: Ellyn Siftar

I’m a 45-year-old mother of four who has spent the past two decades of my life running a household, raising my kids, and working with children and youth in both educational and religious settings. 

Several years ago I discerned a call to complete my bachelor’s degree so that I could better serve my community.  I began taking a class or two a semester and then enrolled as a full-time student.  Writing papers and studying for exams was exhilarating but I also felt like I needed another way of learning, so I decided to take a drawing class.

While I had attended an art class or two as a teen, I knew little of the contemporary artists and had minimal experience with formal artistic practices. While the drawing class was lead by a fantastic artist who made each assignment intriguing, I found I was spending more time agonizing over my homework in that drawing class than any other class.  The work created a space in my brain and my spirit so that I became more attentive to the world around me.  I began to notice that I often take so many things for granted, like the texture of a fern or the shadows under the table at dusk, and the color of the sky. This summer, after realizing how intimidated I was by oil paints, I decided I was going to woo them into a loving relationship by making a daily rendezvous with them. 

Each day for forty-five days I selected a few colors and tried my hand at mixing a hue which seemed to match the sky at that moment.  In three colors or less, I painted with a brush or palette knife, on one small patch of canvas.  This color represented the spit of sky between the neighbors’ garages observable from my window.  I found myself slowing down. I noticed things about the sky I hadn’t been aware of since I was a child laying in the grass staring up at the clouds.  The daily act of loving attention changed m