Friday, March 8, 2013

83 Days In The Sun

The French playwright, Romain Rolland wrote, "It is the artist's business to create sunshine when the sun falls."  If Rolland was referring to hope than every artist should be creating a lot of sunshine during the bleak winters of Chicago. 

According to Current Results the average number of "sunny days" in Chicago, (the total days in a year when the sky is mostly clear including days when clouds cover up to 30% of the sky during daylight hours.) is just 83 days. That's approximately 72% of non-sunny days. Again, according to Current Results if, you include partly sunny days, those that have cloud covering from 40% to 70%  and other days that are mainly overcast, with at least 80% cloud cover, the total average days "with sun" are 189. I'm not buying Current Results' calculations for the total number of days with sun. Especially since they include days where the ski has 80% cloud cover. And even if you do that means there's an average of 176 days without sun per year which equates to 48% of the year. Either way you face it, it's bleak in Chicago a lot of the time and that affects a lot of people in a lot of non-creative ways.

The Mayo Clinic describes Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) as, "sapping your energy and making you feel moody." Yep, that's right. Of course, the symptoms they list may look like they align with other conditions but call it whatever you like people here are cranky and complain about the lack of sun a lot. A phycologist friend of mine told me that her non-depressed friends considering becoming patients every year between the months of September and March. 

Last month (January) shined 13 "sunny days' in Chicago and almost drove me and my wife to purchase a $600 light therapy lamp. We opted for a Southwest Airlines' travel special to Santa Fe, NM where they claim to enjoy 283 sunny days per year. We weren't disappointed. The minute we stepped out into New Mexico sun our spirits lifted and so too did the desire to create.

We headed straight to Sante Fe which seemed to have more art museums and 'art' related businesses that I've seen anywhere in the world. The museums are so focused that even in if you're in a rush you can view and take in each of their collections in 60 minutes. With the air so clean, the light so bright, the art so abundant, and the people so warm, I could easily see myself living and creating there. And create I did. That's not to say that I stop painting during the bleak winter months in Chicago but the colors take on well, different colors under a dark gray sky. So opposite to Rolland's above quote I will strive to remember

John Ruskin's, "Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather." 
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