It was the end of 2007 – December 27th – when Sheila Finch (her husband driving) sat in the car with one hundred small fractures in her foot, three spiral breaks at her ankle, and one broken Fibula just below the knee.
She had spent the previous two hours in the emergency room getting the cast that held the pieces of her shin together and developing the tenuous technique of breathing that gave a slight semblance of control over the pain.
By that hour, it was late in the afternoon and Sheila was deep into the pain. They drove down Highway One from Pacifica to Half Moon Bay – the pain drooping Sheila’s gaze downwards towards the one sensible, flat shoe mismatched next to the one cumbersome cast. As they reached an area called Devil’s Slide, she found respite from her pain. She looked up. She saw, through the car window, that the clouds admitted a subdued, heavenly light.
“I had this overwhelming feeling of calm and peace. I tried to memorize the colors and value changes,” Sheila says. “The scene was just so uplifting and promising and completely took my mind off the pain.”
It was that light – that particular light and its memory – that continues to shine in her new series of sky- and seascapes, Wind, Water and Light.
“My new series expresses the healing rhythms of nature captured in light, water, and clouds,” says Sheila. “The sky soothes my soul and I work to capture that feeling on canvas.”
She studies the sun’s wake as it interacts with the water and clouds, conveying her own healing experiences from December 27th, 2007 with every grade of splendor and luminosity. Her series takes a daily occurrence – light’s patterns as it filters through the clouds – and makes it memorable and even perspective altering.
“Because of [her] paintings, now I always look up,” said a friend on Sheila’s artwork.
Shelia now lives on a sailboat named Tango in the San Francisco South Bay where the light’s exhibitions and wonders are just over the bow of her boat.
Through her time spent on the boat she has deepened her connection with nature’s beat and cadence. She has learned to read the sky, winds, rhythms of the waves. She knows the portentous whistling that occasionally hums through the marina, a phenomenon she calls the "Sailor’s Serenade,” is a signal that there is a storm afoot.
This past January and February, the Sailor’s Serenade played with a remarkable frequency, foreboding the high number of storms that hit California early this year due to an atmospheric river coming in from the Pacific Ocean.
“The [stormy] scenes evoke feelings of timelessness and the ephemeral nature of our existence, of being part of something much bigger and beyond our ability to comprehend – something miraculous,” says Sheila.