something in the air

We drove through lanes, past fields on our way into town. Grey, damp and freezing cold.  The greasiness of the road always makes me cautious especially at the last bend, which is an unforgiving almost hidden turn. (I’ve seen a sports car whiz out into the field there due to overconfidence) Across a hedgerow we caught a glimpse of three birds twisting and swooping against the leaden sky. At first glance they all looked like crows. Yet looking again a different profile could be seen in one of them – it was a hawk; a small one, maybe a kestrel. We only saw it momentarily but this was enough time to pick it out – it had a different centre of gravity, it seemed to get more purchase out of its wing beats. It was a similar proportion to the crows but it felt a larger entity in the air – an altogether different proposition for tiny eyes scuttling through the grass below.
I read a passage from the notes of Delacroix. He compares painting to making a dish – it can turn out well or badly with the same ingredients. It is always a pleasure to experience the resonance that a great painting has. It may have the same subject matter, a similar palette as a neighbouring work in a museum, but something else is missing or rather something else is present in the greater work. It has an energy that is supercharged – a sense of menace in its beauty even  – we can’t prove any of this of course. Maybe a time will come when it can be quantified – something to do with light through colour (perhaps wavelengths can be calculated and added to produce a “signal” and these signals compared for any correlation. I saw this use of pattern recognition once in an analysis of what makes a face “beautiful” – a certain proportion between eyes nose and mouth etc. This endeavour seems to have a sinister connotation hanging around though and I am sure that it would do more harm than good to quantify in this way.
The energy in great works is not declarative in an overtly showy emotional way – quite the opposite in fact; it is stillness that prevails. More is achieved with the coloured surface when  - seemingly – less is done to it, less animation more leverage.
It is always a joy to see a hawk, crows - a much maligned bird- have their own poetry, but a hawk is a special creature with their mesmerising movement through the sky and that chilling stillness in their gaze.