At Play in the Fields of Constable

I don't know that the Romantic painter John Constable ever saw a whale. However, it is very likely that he saw clouds, given the number of oil sketches he did of them in the fields surrounding his home in Suffolk, England.


In an effort to learn something of the artist and his methods, I painted this landscape based on an amalgam of oil sketches he'd done throughout his career. Beyond the takeaways on gesture, light and composition, there was some ineffable absence in his work, something made almost palpable in it's consistent absence. 

For me, that negative space, that omission, it took the form of a dead whale needing to be placed in the middle ground of this painting, behind and amongst livestock and tall grass.

There was something profoundly strange about that man.