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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Seven Days to Painting Better Skies

'Sky Over St. Maarten'     2.5 x 3.5  plein air pastel      ©Karen Margulis
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The sky is not always blue. Clouds are not always white and fluffy. It is all to easy to fall into the comfort of painting skies some shade of blue and making the clouds white and gray. The sky offers us so much more if we take the time to really observe it.  The best way to improve the way we paint the sky is to get outside and look....really look.

If you can devote about 10-20 minutes each day for a week for sky studies you will be well on your way to painting more interesting skies. 

On my recent Caribbean cruise I set a goal to paint the sky at some point every day. It was an eight day cruise so I had an extra!  I painted them small just 2.5 x 3.5 and only spent about 10-15 minutes on each one. It didn't matter what time of the day it was although mornings ended up working out the best for me.

Eight days of blue skies and fair weather

We just so happened to have blue skies and puffy clouds every day (no complaints here!) You can see from my paintings that even though it was great weather, there was a variation in the colors of the blues and in the cloud shapes and colors.  Working plein air really made me sensitive to these subtleties. I could really SEE the colors and shapes. The water color was also different every day and you can see how it naturally related to the sky color.  It was an awesome experience. Here are a few close-up photos of my sky studies.

I have packed my small paper for Iceland sky studies. I plan to do a sky study every day of my trip. Would you like to join me and paint your sky?

  • You don't have to go outside but you do need to paint from life so find a window so you can see the sky.
  • Work small. If 2.5 x 3.5 is too small for you choose a size that allows you to work quickly. If it takes too long you might not want to continue.
  • Cut your paper in advance and set up a small box of pastels. Make it easy!
  • Write on the back of each study...include notes on place, time and weather conditions.

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