Folk wisdom says

Red sky over the Duchy says I’ll have an opportunity to catch up on my studio work today.
Red sky at morning, sailors take warning;
Red sky at night, sailors’ delight.
Dawn this morning featured a lovely rose-colored sky. Since I trust the ancient couplet, above, as much as (or more than) I trust the Weather Channel, I’ll be teaching in the studio tonight.
How old is that couplet? It’s quoted in Matthew 16:2-3, making it at least two thousand years old:
[Jesus] answered them, “When it is evening, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red.’ And in the morning, ‘It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times.

For those who don’t read sky signs and don’t trust their arthritis, there is NOAA’s weather page, with its hourly graphs. They include sky cover, which makes them the plein air painter’s best tool for predicting sunsets.
Joseph Mallord William Turner had a great interest in painting atmospherics. Here is his Sunrise, with a Boat between Headlands, c. 1835-40.
This wisdom works where there are strong westerlies, which happen in the middle latitudes (in which both Jerusalem and Rochester fall). Of course, I also use NOAA’s website; their hour-by-hour weather graph is the plein air painter’s best friend.

I have three openings left for my 2014 workshop in Belfast, ME. Information is available here.

Drawing or painting?

Ancient Catalpa Tree, 6X8, oil on canvas, by little ol’ me.
It was a week of very unsettled weather, when even NOAA didn’t have a firm grasp on what would happen next. (Among other things, the daytime temperature dropped forty degrees.) After cancelling plans twice due to threatening rain only to watch the sky clear almost immediately, I made plans on Thursday to paint with Carol Thiel. We got to our site in Mendon (south of Rochester), set our stuff up, did our drawings, laid out our paints, and took a few brush strokes—and the sky opened up.
Now, Carol may harbor dreams of getting back there, but I have decades of half-finished paintings in my closet. I know the chances of recreating that opportunity are slim. Sad, because it was a good drawing.
On Friday, I headed west toward Buffalo after rush hour traffic cleared, catching a long traffic jam on the way. It rained all the way to the toll barrier, and by the time I reached Glen Park, it was merely spitting and cold. I was an hour behind schedule. This time I found a bench and sat down to draw in graphite. (I’m off to paint with JamieGrossman this week, and I thought it might be nice to brush up on waterfalls, since she has so darn many of them.)
Glen Park in Williamsville, on a miserable spitting late Spring day… graphite on Bristol board, by little ol’ me.
Saturday dawned clear and cold, with fleecy high clouds. My class was scheduled to paint at a farm in Honeoye Falls, but this being a holiday weekend, I didn’t expect many students. And I was right. It was a good opportunity to introduce a new student to oil painting, so I had my kit with me.
When she left, I was able to crank out the painting of an ancient catalpa tree at the top of this page. Is it a drawing? Is it a painting? Sure. Most importantly, it’s finished.
August and September are sold out for my workshop at Lakewatch Manor in Rockland, ME.  Join us in June, July and October, but please hurry! Check here for more information.