Several elements of this picture really grabbed me. I love the strong contrast in light and dark, the color gradient, and the composition, where the points of interest (yellow coat in foreground, whales up top) are separated by the distance of the horizon and mounded clouds. The painting style is perfect for an impressionistic rendering of a blustery day; it gives it the unreal tinge of the memory of a dream or the nearly-real world of vivid imagination. The flecks of white create an odd two-dimensional tone, evocative of snow on a camera lens. I like how they create the impression of snow and a cold day on the beach, but they also flatten the painting, adding another hint of the unreal.
Whales in the sky is not a new idea, but it shows up so often that it is essentially a theme for interpretation, like painting mythologic scenes. I like this piece because it is such a strong painting, color and composition wise. It takes the whales-in-the-sky motif and creates a memorable image that's up for interpretation, depending on the mood of the viewer. Anything from straight-up whales in the sky, to an environmental foreshadowing as the whales head into reddened storm clouds, or a kid conjuring up denizens for the sky that can match the grandeur of a storm-front. It is an emotional piece, but leaves the emotion up to the viewer.