When I have a camera in hand, I love taking pictures of clouds, so it is any wonder that I would also enjoy painting them?
Here’s one of my cloud photos, taken from our front porch last summer as a heavy thunderstorm moved in:
Earlier, I posted a series of paintings — watercolor and pastels — of clouds, and my love for painting the skies has continued. Now, instead of focusing so much on the clouds, I’m turning my attention to the heavens, hoping to capture some of the light, some of the colors, some of the many moods we see when we look up.
By practicing this way, I hope when I do complete landscapes, I’ll be able to always create interesting skies that add to the painting.
To create these skies, I used this palette:
- Alizarin crimson
- Lemon yellow
- Cerulean Blue
- Ultramarine Blue
- Burnt Sienna
- Payne’s Grey
First, I painted a very light, very calm and quiet sky. I used pale washes of colors, and tried to create a slight gradation. The sky, I’ve learned is lighter at the horizon.
Next, I wanted a few more clouds in the sky. I wanted a bit more color, as well. I used light washes again, then “dabbed out” the clouds with tissue.
I’d still like to make my blue skies more colorful, so that’s something I’ll be practicing on. Instead of cerulean blue, I might try ultramarine. I want to work on creating more variety in the shapes of the clouds, too.
It’s been raining here in the Midwest quite a bit lately, so next I grabbed the gray to create a more ominous sky. Instead of blue, this sky’s colors are burnt sienna and — toward the bottom — a pale lemon yellow.
I created the clouds in two layers and then dabbed out highlights. I’m still not satisfied with them, but that’s what practicing is all about.
Next, I created a sunset sky, although I’m not happy with how it turned out. My brush strokes were a little too heavy, and the alizarin crimson left a “streaky” effect — which was not the sort of “streaks” I wanted in the painting.
I used a tissue-wrapped coin to create the sun, but then it became almost obliterated by the paint. It was a fun painting to create, but I’m not pleased with it.
Again, that’s what practice is for, right?
Finally, before I put my paints away, I had to try re-creating my storm cloud photo. Using lots of Payne’s Grey — and a little raw umber — I let the color mingle with a bit of water on the paper. I wasn’t able to accurately depict all the cloud formations, but I tried to come up with shapes that resembled the original.
While it’s not really all that close to my reference photo, I did enjoy doing this painting, and I think I learned a lot from it. With continued practice, I also feel confident that I can paint skies in the landscapes I do, and that I can use them to add many different moods and emotions — from the serenity of a clear blue sky to the ominous threat of storm clouds scuttling across the horizon.
All in all, I enjoyed my painting practice today. I truly thank the heavens above for all the inspiration.