I don’t know about most people who paint, but I expect every painting to be a masterpiece. Of course, this is silly. I don’t think about practicing things, such as painting clouds. However, I watched a few YouTube videos on cloud painting and decided to give it a go. I found a picture on Pixabay I liked, filled with clouds, and a plowed field stretching to the horizon. To me, it just seems a bit ridiculous not to try to paint a masterpiece each time – really, practice – so a finished picture it is.
Clouds really are variable, but there is a tendency to overwork them. Here, I simply tried to get a sense of white-white-white and ways in which clouds have contrast, shadow, distance, and how they look in the sky. These are rather poofy ones, without any defining characteristics other than that.
Since this was practice, I put in some black ink lines just to see how they “feel” in a painting. Don’t know if I like them . . .
This time a sky and land study from a Pixabay image. I did this on the reverse side of another painting, so the paper, 140# Arches cold press, was warped. I thought about ironing it, but decided to just tape it to the board, and use the warps to my advantage with the sky. Overall, it worked pretty well, but where there were dribbles, I snagged them with a tissue. It was rather fun.
Altogether, I like the way this painting turned out. I was rather stumped about the foreground, so I just made some leafy, grassy strokes. The water along the roadway came out fairly good, as did the road itself. Perspective on a flat land is a challenge but it seems to have worked out, too.
Some days a painting works, and you are in the moment with paint, brush, and paper. A lot of the painting was like that. Then, at the end, I stepped back and thought about contrast, and added a bit here and there as blobs or lines or dots. And finally it was done.
Where I live, in the dry hills of the Central Coast of California, clouds are really, honestly a rarity. Most days the sky is a clear, steady blue. In the fall and spring, and sometimes into the summer, though, the seasons shift. The rainy season brings in moisture, clouds form, and the sky suddenly has a life of its own. In May and June, the coastal fog moves in, and sometimes you have a competition or a dance between the two – soft, cool fog close to the ground, and clouds at higher altitudes. As the fog breaks up, you see the blue sky and clouds above the shifting fog.
This is from a photograph I took a long time ago when I first started doing digital photography. A small group of us would get together to go for an easy hike, many times in the evening. Hummingbird Trail is where the original photo was taken, admittedly way over-processed in HDR, but the intensity of the colors held true. I tried to capture this in my painting, along with the shifting fog and clouds. I also tried to work on distance by applying a light glaze of a dulling blue grey wash to the distant hills, as well as decreasing details to indicate perspective.
Clouds are so much fun to do in watercolor! Who is to say your clouds don’t look real? There are so many mysteriously beautiful in the natural world, but few are as shifting and as ephemeral as clouds.
Inktober continues apace, but I have been going 100 mph for the past week. No time to focus on a theme. This morning, though, I thought about cold mountains and winter – where I live, it’s in the mid-80s to low-90s, and I could use a bit of blustery weather.
Here is a mountain – inky for Inktober
And here is the same scene, in cold and wintry colors.
I used to do a lot of Chinese painting, and I tried to incorporate the clouds in a rather Chinese-painting fashion, in ink and watercolor. Hints, not direct; subtlety rather than blatant. I’m not sure if it worked for the clouds between the mountains, but I definitely like the chilliness and fogginess of the scene overall.