Weather constantly affects our mood. It is as if we were the creatures of the ocean, drifted by the unpredictable ebbs and flows and with the convergent water as the sky that overhung us. We are the ill-fated ones who are cooped up beneath the hemisphere. Some wily magician, with his sleight of hand, conjures up natural happenings that we ever abiding by.
Our volatile moods seem the only conscious beings that know how to rebel. We sulk as our moods are dampened by the gloomy weather. All elements war within our bodies and we expose the emotions on our facades: a ruddy redness that encircles our cheeks, like a feverish child entrapped in his fitful dreams. I, however, feel relatively lucid when days are overcast. With no sunlight that blinks my eyes I can stare unflinchingly towards the infinity. And no fogs can blur our image. We are like the characters in the old movies who manage miraculously to poke through piles of dense blue smoke.
Blue is not merely a common word to describe our interminable phase of melancholia. Days are the gloomiest when the sky is blue- not the bright-blueness that seems drenched by sunbeams, but one infused with the miserable black and grey. American-born, British-based artist James McNeill Whistler’s gloomy day is accompanied by music, that of a nocturne- the music of the night, the music of the harmony. All objects seem to be reduced to their dark silhouettes when fog and haze gather. They all become the phantoms that drift aimlessly about the sea, desperate to find an anchorage. Like a typical Impressionist landscape painting, colours fleet as if driven by wind. The dark colours do not make an oppressive throng. The painting depicts the sky before which is beset by the gathering clouds. Little lights of yellow dance upon the placid water- they are like the fairies that flit through the thick of a forest.
One cannot talk about landscape paintings without mentioning J.M.W. Turner, whose volcanic eruptions series bestow on me an impression of how the acme of love might be taken form. Moonlight, A Study at Millbank (1797) is not technically a depiction of gloomy weather, but it does set a similarly forlorn tone. The colour of the sky almost mingles with that of the seashore, smudged with muds and grits. It is just before dawn and the setting moon reasserts itself as a burning mirror. Lonely and painstakingly the incensed moon struggles against its involuntary descent to exert its last force. But it somehow fails to illumine all.
Once you muster up optimism, you conquer all negativities. Strollers in Gustave Caillebotte’ Paris Street; Rainy Day (1877) seem hardly affected by an occasional downpour. See how the cobble street glistens when brimmed with raindrops! The rain cleanses rather than spoiling the image of this charming city. Another noteworthy fact of this painting is how the painter takes a slightly off-kilter focus- almost like a chance snapshot of photography. Notice how neither the building nor the lamp post is at the centre of the painting. The severity of harmony and symmetry that was once the insistence of tradition is now utterly dismantled.
Is it all pure coincidence that most “gloomy weather” paintings seem to disregard the conventions and matters that a great artist is supposed to take into considerations? Once our eyes are disturbed by the vagueness of fogs or rain, we have no other means but to consult the more fanciful things, principally the imaginations or the illusions. That sums up what I said previously of a relatively lucid mind when days are overcast. A butterfly might be caught within a mist, its presence barely perceptible. You only see a fleeting red slides across your eyes and inevitably you start harking back to those days when, in a self-same manner, you lost the sight of that beautiful something.