THE MOST AMAZING SUNSET I THINK I’VE EVER SEEN occurred a few nights ago here in SPAIN. Normally, the skies are clear and clouds are a rarity, so when I saw a bit of pink creeping into the sky and walked around the corner to check it out – WOW! I was shocked and amazed at this sight. Truly beautiful. This post is about painting skies, as you may guess.
CLOUDS seem to be a bugaboo that haunts many an artist. There are sooo many ways to paint them. If you don’t like one way, you can quickly find another to achieve close to the same look. Here is one way to do it. Although this particular cloud formation can be painted in one step, I think it will be easier to break it down into sections. So here you go. Have fun!
HEY YOU, GET OFFA MY CLOUD!
The thing that makes clouds look really spectacular is VARIETY. Variety of shape, variety of value, color and especially edges. Some edges should be hard and others softly blended. The first thing I’d like you to notice are the crispy white shapes that you can see in the photo below– I’ve outlined them in black to make them easier to see. Keep these in mind while we prepare our paint mixes.
To begin, look past all of the dark colors. Begin with the very lightest tints of color you see…I used pale New Gamboge and also pale Quinacridone Red (or any other red). Mix up a bit of both of these colors and have them ready to go on your palate. Also mix just a bit of light value Ultramarine Blue.
STEP 1: Wet the entire paper, but leave the bits of crispy white paper dry (outlined in black in the above photo). You will wet the paper around them, leaving them dry and wetting absolutely everything else.
STEP 2: Look for an even shine. If you see it, you’re ready to roll. Pick up a bit of the pale yellow and stroke it onto the cloud, anywhere except the dry spot. Then quickly, rinse the brush and pick up the pale Red and stroke it on, too. DON’T touch it! Let it do what it wants to do.
STEP 3: While the paper is still shiny, pick up just a touch of the light value blue onto your brush and stroke it at the base of the clouds. Again, just put it on and let it do what it wants to do. Playing with it will only make your color muddy. Let this dry completely. It will look like the photo below.
Step 4: Now let’s darken the upper two corners as you can see in the next photo below. Mix up a batch of dark Ultramarine Blue. Painting only one corner at a time will make it easier. So, wet the right corner as outlined in the photo. Then stroke on a bit of the blue. Quickly rinse the brush, blot it a bit and soften the hard edge of blue color in a place or two. How do you soften it? Place your damp brush right on the hard edge and pat it a bit. Again, let it dry completely.
Step 5: Now to finish up! The paper should be completely dry. Then wet it all except for those same crispy white areas. I’ve given you a guestimate inside the dotted line in the photo below. You can use all of the colors you already have mixed on your palette. After you’ve wet the paper, just float in bits of the blue to separate the big shapes into smaller cloud shapes, if you wish. You can also add additional pinks at this stage if you need it. Remember! Put on the color and don’t play! That is really an important secret to watercolor painting. Watercolor is much easier that most people realize because they work, work, and work some more…when all you really have to do is float on paint and let the water do the work for you. Really! Give it a try.
Congrats! On your beautiful sky. I knew you could do it. This is only one of many ways to paint clouds.
Today we visited Comares, one of my very favorite white villages. I want you to see it, too! These photos don’t really do it justice, but it is a VERY fun place to paint. The painting I did there is almost finished and I will post it on FB when it’s done. I wish each and every one of you were here with me!
Thanks so much to all of you for reading and for all of your comments. I read each and every one! Off to get ready for dinner on the beach…