Calm Again; The Beaufort Scale Revised

The beauty of the wind is that you can’t see it, only what it does to everything else.


In 1806, Sir Francis Beaufort devised a universal scale based on observation in which the force of the wind is indicated by numbers from 0-12; the higher the number, the stronger the force of the wind. Each number was named, assigned a specific range of miles per hour, followed by a written description of what Beaufort observed at each individual level. It has been regarded as so useful that it is still announced daily on the BBC Shipping Forecast. Though Beaufort was a scientist, a seaman, and a cartographer, it was his descriptions of the wind that intrigued me the most. Beaufort clearly articulated the intangible phenomena through his poetic choice of words. For example:

#2 light breeze…4-7 mph…wind felt on face, leaves rustle, ordinary vane moved by wind,

In my recent series, Calm Again; The Beaufort Scale Revised, I have also included the calm after the storm because it is always distinctly different from that of the calm before.

#13 calm again… 0-0mph…sky glows pink/orange, no wind, no sound, no breath

For me, this work has become about painting itself; both the process and the product move from order to chaos, from meditative to frenetic, from classicism to romanticism and back again.

Maggie Tobin

May 2006

Beaufort Scale | 2011 | Prints