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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Make Sure the Earth Talks to the Sky...Painting Clouds

'The Overlook'       5x7     plein air pastel       ©Karen Margulis  $95 purchase here
 Little did I know at the time but this piece of advice has really come in handy. "I love the way the earth is talking to the Sky in this painting"  I heard this during a review of paintings done at a plein air paint-out. I was a new artist at the time and I didn't quite know what she meant. It sounded so 'Artsy' to me and definitely over my head.  I understand what she meant now and I share it often with my students. We laugh but then we understand how important it is for a landscape painting.  So what does it mean?

'Desert View'              5x7     plein air pastel
 When the earth speaks to the sky in your painting it means that they relate in some way. Maybe it's with shapes ....tree shapes echoed in the cloud shapes. But for me it often means there is some color relationship or harmony between the sky and the ground.  I use this bit of advice most often when painting clouds. I like to include the colors I am using on the ground in the clouds. I layer my own mixture of colors to create the darks in a cloud. I will use a blend of peaches, greens and lavenders. This makes a nicer gray than the grays made with black.
To help the clouds relate to the ground, I will use some of the earth colors for my gray mixtures. Or I will just add a touch of the earth color into the whites of the clouds. Look at the paintings in this post. These were all plein air pieces done oat the Plein Air Convention. In each one I tried to incorporate the earth colors into the clouds. Hopefully I was successful in creating greater color harmony in the paintings.

'Overlook II'            5x7            plain air pastel
So the next time you are working on a landscape, look at it carefully and make sure your earth and sky are talking to one another!


robertsloan2art said...

Great article! I can see it. I love that combination of tints in clouds too, the mix of secondary triad tints are gorgeous as a flowing shifting gray range.

The effect in all these examples is that the clouds seem to soar more. The earth talking to the sky makes both seem more intensely themselves. In the desert painting those clouds soar! They float in a way that's almost eerie, like they're moving toward me and about to sail out of the painting. The sense of depth and motion, connection within the same world of the painting, feeling the painting is a window into that scene is wonderful.

Thinking of using multiple ways to connect those elements, I'm sure that's what gives them so much power. Wonderful paintings! They made the concept so much clearer to me.

Julie Ford Oliver said...

I love the painting. You always capture the essence of time and mood.

When I was in art school the expression, earth talking to the sky, was emphasized as was, objects talking to each other, for still life . I had forgotten, so thanks for bringing it back.
I enjoy your blog on so many levels.

Donna T said...

Beautiful paintings and thanks for sharing this information, Karen! There is always a sense of cohesiveness in paintings where all the elements share colors, even in the tiniest amounts. I think we just have to train our eyes to see all the "conversations" going on around and above us.

Karen said...

Thank you so much Robert! As always you have such a wonderful way with wording your comments. I love reading what you have to say!!

Karen said...

Thanks for commenting Julie. I heard this comment from another artist and it didn't makes sense at the time (I was a beginner) but now it helps me so much when I paint!

Karen said...

Thanks Donna. I agree! I like the way you say we need to see all of the conversations going on. Excellent point!