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Monday, December 21, 2015

A Quick Lesson on Painting the Sky

'A Place for Contemplation'       8x10      pastel       ©Karen Margulis
available $150
I squeezed in this painting today. I am busy finishing my holiday preparations and a secret project for my granddaughter. I'll share it after Christmas!  But I have a deadline for submitting images for a project so I wanted to paint at least one study today.  Here is the result.

In looking at both the 8x10 and the smaller 4x4 study I am struck by an observation about the sky. It makes for a good quick lesson.

If the sky relates to the earth there will be greater harmony.

Once I began to pay attention to this simple truth my paintings seemed more authentic and believable. I think they became better paintings.

4x4 color study

Have you ever looked at a landscape painting and felt that something was 'off'? It wasn't anything you could quickly put your finger on but something seemed a bit jarring.....like hearing  some beautiful music and the musician hits the wrong note.  That is what happens when the sky doesn't have any connection to the ground. It could be shapes but often it is a color relationship, I can make a huge difference in the feeling of the painting.

In my painting I began by blocking in the big shapes with 4 values of orange. I used a pale yellow- orange in the sky and water, darker orange for the trees and creek banks and middle value oranges for the grasses.

Automatically there was a connection between the sky and ground. I continued this relationship as the painting developed by adding a pale orange-yellow in the sky at the horizon. I could have used another color.....pale pink or pale lavender or even kept the entire sky blue. But having that touch of orange in the sky echoed all of the orange in the grasses.....connecting the two areas with a common thread. Any other color or just plain blue would have been jarring....or boring.

Lesson: Always pay attention to the colors you choose for the sky. Whenever possible introduce a touch of the same or similar color to both sky and earth for a more harmonious and pleasing landscape.



Very beautiful painting !!!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2016 !!!

robertsloan2art said...

Great article and very effective color trick. Yesterday I looked out at the Arkansas sky and marveled that it was a different blue. Something in the air caught the light, it was pretty clearly cerulean - much greener than in San Francisco, more Southern latitude. But it looked like Cerulean with just a touch of complement muting it. I was very surprised, but at the time I noticed it the clouds were very yellowed too, distinctly pale golden-orangy so perhaps it was dust in the air too thin to block out the blue. It was very striking. I'll never doubt that hue in a painting again unless it's of the wrong climate.

The farther south you are, the greener the blue sky gets. Northern skies get very violet but violet in the shadows can harmonize them easily.