Despite its mostly non-threatening color scheme, looking at Storm Front Over Dallas Mills Deli [above] leaves me feeling somewhat somber. I have never painted a storm scene of this sort before, certainly not a storm scene related to a horrid outbreak of tornadoes that left Alabama in tatters. On one hand, I tell myself, who wants to look at a painting from such a tragic day? On the other hand, I have explored many scenes of Southern life, so why leave such a poignant one out? [below, a detail]
After several brushes with tornadoes in the past (including a harrowing drive from Montgomery with a wall cloud swirling behind the car, sirens piercing, grapefruit-sized hail pelting the roof, and abject horror mounting), I was feeling rather careless on Wednesday. My father and I were out having lunch with a friend at a deli in Five Points, laughing about the fear-mongering techniques of a local weatherman who often cries wolf, when the front started rolling in. Everyone was standing outside watching the rain and wind-- it was oddly beautiful, awe-inspiring. Those who have been following my #draw365 sketches might recognize the painting from a sketch I did that day [below].
When the electricity went out, I thought nothing of it (not an uncommon occurrence in the area). . . but then darkness arrived and the lights did not return. I was unable to see any news until days later. . . Huntsville remained almost untouched save the power outages. . . many other towns in Alabama no longer exist. The Red Cross and other organizations are still taking donations and volunteers; there is much to consider and much more to do.