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Tom Thomson’s plein air painting entitled “Afternoon: Algonquin Park”, 1914

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Tom’s motivation to “record” this particular observation – different cloud structures combined with the colour of old snow and the rich sunset hues. Tom loved to paint sunsets!

The horizon is just below midpoint in the composition. I believe that Tom was actually torn between making this a skyscape because of his interest in the clouds and a landscape drawn by the shadows across the snow. I would have faced the same turmoil! For our application Tom painted enough clues into both that we can conclusively apply CSI (Creative Scene Investigation) to the pigments.

This is certainly a sky filled with streets of stratocumulus aligned along northwesterly winds. This implies a thoroughly mixed planetary boundary layer and thus low level instability. The northwesterly winds were certainly stronger earlier in the afternoon but with the setting sun and the increasing stability, the winds must be diminishing making this plein air painting experience very enjoyable indeed. There were certainly no bugs – no biting insects. 

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