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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Remember This When Painting Sky Holes

'Celebration'              12x18             pastel          ©Karen Margulis

Last night we  all moaned and groaned about sky holes. "They are a pain!" " I never get them right!" "I just don't like painting them."  But sky holes can make or break the success of our trees. I used to feel the same way about sky holes until I changed my attitude and slowed down. I began to enjoy them. Now I seek them out and find it oddly relaxing to paint them.

Sky holes... What are they? They are simply the negative spaces we see in the structure of the tree. They occur where there is a break in the foliage and often alongside the trunks and branches. They are not always sky color. These 'holes' are the color of whatever is behind the tree ( a bit darker value though) This could be sky but it might be other trees, mountains, water.

Here is something I try to remember when painting these sky holes:

  •  Stop: slow down and take your time. Rushing leads to messy skyholes that don't always make sense.
  • Squint: Squinting simplifies your reference tree and allows the light areas (the sky holes) to become more obvious. Look where they occur and what shape they are. They are not always round holes or squiggles.
  • Search: Find the skyholes and put them in. It is often a matter of putting in a hole, adding more foliage....and back and forth until it looks natural. It is a process. Try not to rush!
  • Avoid squiggles, circles or ornaments. Ornaments occur when the sky hole value is too light or the edges are all too sharp. The marks look stuck on the tree rather than breaks in the foliage.

Jennifur my studio cat is exhausted after a long day of classes!

Try This:  Plan to do a few studies in which you focus solely on a section of tree. Concentrate on creating believable skyholes in a small section of tree.


Hélène said...

Good !
I have been strugling today with sky holes.
Too much is blahhh !
None is blahh.
Choosing, picking, the right place.
Thank's for that !

Québec - Canada

René PleinAir said...

Good posting!!


Judy Baker said...

Thank you, Karen, for your many gems of wisdom! They are so helpful! I look forward to your posts each day. It is always something interesting and useful. Thank you for taking the time to help your fellow artists!

jytte said...

Love your cat :o)

Ruth Andre said...

Nice painting and post.

robertsloan2art said...

Thank you for these tips! I struggle with my sky holes and every time I succeed in doing any at all, the painting gets so much better. It's the same sudden flash that happened when I learned to put the catchlight reflection in a portrait's eye. Trees come to life when their foliage is lacy and you see what's beyond it.

Anatomy problems with branch placement and angle are a problem within large sky holes if done carelessly. That's a mistake I've made - stick a branch right up the middle and do it with too strong a mark in the wrong hue. Bang what was a good opening becomes something pasted on. So I have to remember the branch structures and general direction too, also to keep them sorta off center if possible. Or create them by negative painting with sky holes on either side, works with the squint.

Those are rare successes though compared to the many weird failures that always do look like - yeah, I hung Christmas ornaments on the tree instead of punching a hole through it. Value thing is very important!

robertsloan2art said...

Oh and thanks for the nice photo of Jennifur. She has a beautiful name and she's such a gorgeous studio cat.