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Chasing the Storm, Acrylic on Canvas 30 x 40″

January 21, 2010

“Chasing the Storm” – Acrylic on Canvas, 30 x 40 x 1.5″

I’m not a storm chaser and don’t understand why anyone would want to be one. But that’s the title of this painting anyway. I think I named it that in defiance of my lifelong fear of tornadoes.

I grew up in the edge of Tornado Alley — right here, where we now live again. We went from hurricanes to tornadoes. At least you get lots of warning with a hurricane.

When I was growing up here, my Dad was deathly afraid of tornadoes, and would often run down the hall in the dark of night and yell for us to get up and get into a closet or a bathroom because he just knew one was coming. The panic on his face and in his voice always terrified me, and that stayed with me for a long time. Of course we didn’t have weather radar to track them as accurately as they do now, so he was always vigilant during storm season when there were heavy winds and lightning. My Dad’s reason for being so afraid  was understandable. His aunt and uncle were killed in a tornado when he was young and he never got over that.

Once when I was a young adult, our family was out fishing in a boat on the lake and we got caught in a sudden storm before we could get to shore. By the time we did make it back to jump out of the boat and tie it up, a huge tornado was bearing down on us. My mother always told me that if  you could see the funnel cloud moving from one side to the other, you were safe. This one wasn’t moving. It was just getting larger. We scrambled for shelter inside a little block building where there was a fishing tackle shop, along with a dozen or so other folks, until the storm passed through. The building survived, but there was a lot of damage around us. Some of the roads were impassable getting home. Several times we had to drive around big trees in the road, and people were already out with their chainsaws cutting their way through. Our house was safe, but we had lost several trees.

Later after I had married and left the area, my Dad had a storm cellar dug out beside their house. Storm cellars are a common sight around here, especially out in the country. I’ve never been inside one, but they do serve a dual purpose. You can keep potatoes, flower bulbs, and jars of jelly in them year round.

It has been raining off and on for the past three days, but nothing threatening that I could tell. But just now I walked by the television and a local station was reporting that a tornado had touched down in Huntsville, just an hour away. The residents told the same familiar story. Things got suddenly quiet (there’s a reason they say “the calm before the storm”) then they heard a community warning siren, and then the tornado hit immediately afterward. It apparently wasn’t a devastating one as storms go around here, but it is always frightening just the same.

The pictures tell the story. My painting tells another one.

More information about this painting and other available works is here on my website.

21 Comments leave one →
  1. January 22, 2010 7:20 pm

    I am working in my studio and listening to Hope for Haiti and the artists are generously writing new works to pray for halos for Haiti. You storm image is beautifully poignant to the human storm in Haiti… a land of gentle people. Imagine and Live in Peace, Mary Helen Fernandez Stewart

    • January 22, 2010 7:43 pm

      Mary Helen, the Haitians have been uppermost in my mind this past week. This event has shown once again our vulnerability in the face of sudden disaster. The storm stories were another example of that.

      It’s heartbreaking, because even if all of us give money which is very much needed, the physical obstacles to getting help to the people are overwhelming.

  2. January 22, 2010 7:58 pm

    Wonderful story and painting…….total connection. Wish I could see this on in person.

    • January 23, 2010 10:17 am

      Thank you so much, Sondra. It is my fervent wish to connect more of my paintings with personal stories. It’s more difficult to do with abstracts I think, but it is possible.

  3. January 23, 2010 8:34 am

    Martha,

    In my opinion, “Chasing the Storm” is one of the most beautiful works of art that I’ve ever seen! The composition and the colors are exquisite and the use of black in this painting is in perfect balance. Black can be overwhelming in a work of art, but in this piece, it is not. Great choice on the 30X40 size with the use of black as well! Well done!

    Tammy

    • January 23, 2010 10:23 am

      Tammy, I appreciate that! Just glad it speaks to you. I agree that black can be a challenge to work with, which is why I wanted to go for it.

  4. Annette permalink
    January 23, 2010 11:03 am

    Martha
    I finally reached my Huntsville friend. She watched as the tornado went over her downtown house. She had no damage but others around her did. I had a great conversation with her. Might not have thought about it if you had not shared your tornado story. Thanks

    BTW did you know Huntsville has a big warehouse/art space?

  5. January 24, 2010 8:17 am

    The movement you achieved in this piece really conveys your statement. Well done ~

  6. January 26, 2010 9:02 am

    I am enjoying your art so much, that I am thinking of trying my hand at abstract. Thanks for so much inspiration!

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