April 9, 2014

Painting Clouds Used to Be a Big Challenge for Me

"Clouds on Blue"
8"x10, Oil on board
How do you paint clouds?
Until last fall I found them very challenging and intimidating to paint.
Then I jumped right in, during a painting workshop, I asked the teacher - Kim Casebeer, a very talented plein air painter - to help me paint clouds, she gave me one of the million photos she took of Kansas skies and lands and advised me to start from that.
I started, I made mistakes, I corrected them, and I only asked her for advice a few times, but knowing I had her available if I got stuck made me braver, and I broke the ice with painting clouds.

Yes, I had painted clouds before, but with effort and doubtful results.
Look at me now: skyscapes are my favorite subject!
Between sunsets, sunrises, and cloudy skied, that's most of what I have painted lately.
This is my reference photo that I took at the
soccer stadium while waiting for the game to start.

I understood a few simple rules when painting clouds:

1. You've got to keep in mind where the sunlight is coming from. Clouds are thick, they have volume, so the sunlight creates areas that are extremely bright and others that are quite dark, even in white clouds.

2. Clouds are full of subtle color changes. What may seem like a gray cloud at first has actually blues, greens, purples, and pinks in it.

3.The best way to know how clouds look is to watch them live, right in the sky, and observe their coloration and how they change continuously.Then it's easier to paint from a photo because you know your subject.

4, It's ok to be a little creative with colors. In this painting I added pink in the cloud even if I did not see much pink in the photo, but its darker value helps defining the volume of the clouds.

Am I good at painting clouds?  I would not say that I am good at it, but I am surely learning, and what is most important I am not scared of painting clouds anymore. It's still a challenge, but a fun one!

Thanks for stopping by!

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