Watching the Weather

Watching the Weather

I am something of a weather junkie, but I’m watching the weather more than usual today.

I always thought Michigan was a good place from which to observe weather with summer-time thunderstorms and lake-affect snows in winter. Having major bodies of water on both sides is great for weather.

But Kansas is better.

Brooding Michigan clouds.

Watching the Weather

Since Kansas is pretty much in the geographic center of the continental United States, our weather is affected by the Gulf Coast, the Rocky Mountains, and the north. Things can happen here year round and sometimes they happen fast.

Today, for example, my part of the state is under a severe thunderstorm watch. Severe thunderstorms are rolling through the northern part of the state as I write these words, with a couple of tornado warnings already issued in that area.

So I’m spending almost as much time looking out the window as working.

Monitoring the Weather by Live Stream

I’m also listening to a couple of live streams from storm chasers. Today’s selection is Reed Timmer and Vince Waelti. So far, all I’ve seen via live stream are dramatic skies, rain (which we need badly), and a bit of hail.

Locally, the sun is still shining periodically through gathering clouds. At the moment, our biggest threat is wind. Yes, the wind always blows here in Kansas (another benefit of getting weather from so many directions.) It just usually isn’t more than 5 or 10 miles per hour, what I refer to as a gentle breeze. Today’s anticipated wind gusts are in the 20-mile-per-hour range. That’s still pretty tame.

Rain is also in the forecast. While I’m not especially interested in seeing a tornado at close range, I do want to see rain. With possibly severe thunderstorms in the evening forecast, there will also hopefully be rain.

How Does All This Fit Into My Art?

Some of the weather I watch and photograph ends up in my art. Spring Storm, below, is based on a thunderstorm I photographed many years ago in Michigan. The contrast between dark, brooding clouds and sunlit foreground is the subject of this artwork. I also painted the same scene (though without the barn) in oils.

Spring Storm, Colored Pencil on Pastelmat

I’ve drawn snow, too, included Study of Branch with Snow, from which I developed a mini-tutorial for this blog.

The gray light of a rainy day showed up in West of Bazaar, Kansas (below), another colored pencil piece.

West of Bazaar, Kansas, Colored Pencil on Mat Board

For a time in high school, I also doodled tornadoes on the margins of my note book paper.

The Bottom Line

No matter where you live, there are times when watching the weather is important. Today happens to be one of those days for me.

May you be having sunny skies and good weather where you are!

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    1. Thank you, David.

      I’ve been thinking about doing that scene over again on a different color of Pastelmat. I used Anthracite (dark gray) for this version, and have wondered what it would look like on a color like Buttercup or Sienna.

  1. Gail Jones

    I certainly understand the weird weather phenomenon. Down here in Southern Calif. we have had weird already with snow early this year at my house. (We don’t get snow). We also got our house partly flooded on 9/11/22 because the rain was heavy, and our neighbor took down part of the flood retainment wall the city had put in. That was not a good idea! Oh, and we have super bloom which translates into super allergy season. So… all that to say, I have definitely been watching the weather. On a more positive note… it is fun to put storm clouds and other weather phenomenon into art. Would love to see someone do a tornado in CP. I also love the moody darkness of your first picture especially.

    1. Gail,

      I follow a regular weather-forecasting channel ( that covers all of the continental US, so I’ve seen the storms roll through the west coast. Yes, even the snow in southern California. I believe some even reached the higher elevations of Mexico!

      I also follow an aviation channel from a YouTuber based in California. He flew his small plane over the Super Bloom in one of his videos. It certainly is beautiful. I hadn’t thought about the allergy aspect of things, though. Having been recently diagnosed with minor allergies, I suppose that’s something I’ll have to start paying attention to.

      I did some graphite sketching of a wall cloud after posting yesterday. No tornado, but some very dramatic clouds. The second sketch was interrupted by a call from a neighbor letting us know a branch had been blown out of one of our trees and was on the fence and a couple of utility lines. It was nothing huge, but it did take an hour to chop up and stack for pickup or turning into mulch. By then, it was time for supper, so that second sketch is one of those “unfinished” pieces!

      I don’t know about drawing a tornado in colored pencil, but it would be an interesting subject for graphite, I think. I saw an image of a tornado spinning through an empty field with an impressive dust ball at the base that would make a great graphite subject.

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