Monday, June 27, 2016

A Tip for Painting Clouds

'Land of Magic'         18x24         pastel        ©Karen Margulis
available $400
I am drawn to dramatic and exciting skies. When I travel I actually welcome the cloudy days. Cloudy skies give me inspiration for future paintings. Cloudy skies are more fun and more challenging topping than a gentle blue sky.

When I was in Iceland earlier in the month I had a bumper crop of exciting skies. We only had 3 clear days but even they were filled with changeable and beautiful skies. I was happy for the studio time in Iceland on our overcast and rainy days. It allowed me to work on studies while the colors and feelings were fresh and available. Below are a few of the studies I painted while in Iceland. Working from life is always a great idea but I have another tip for painting clouds....read on!




I have learned much about painting clouds and skies and I have distilled it into 10 tips and techniques for painting more effective skies and clouds. I am working on a way to share all of my tips but for now I will share a tip that has really helped me whenever I am putting clouds in a landscape painting.

PAINT CLOUDS THAT WORK IN YOUR COMPOSITION EVEN IF THEY AREN'T EXACTLY HOW YOU SEE THEM. YOU ARE AN ARTIST....NOT A CAMERA. DESIGN YOUR SKY!

If you are working from photos the clouds will rarely be perfectly arranged. It is a moment in time and clouds move! If you are working from life you will be at the mercy of a changing sky. It is important that we make a mental image of the clouds....colors,values, shapes and then use this information to paint an impression of the sky. 

Place the clouds so that they help support the design of your painting.  Can they be placed to lead the viewer's eye into the painting? Avoid unusual shapes that have to be explained. Good skies are not random...they are designed!


If you are in the Atlanta area I will be offering a one day workshop devoted to painting more effective skies and clouds. I have a few openings. Email me karenmargulis@gmail.com to register.







1 comment:

robertsloan2art said...

Great advice! Sometimes great skies come along in other situations, a boring stretch of ugly buildings may be under a wonderful sky. So I stare at the good ones and try to get a feel for the forms, do sky studies and sometimes build paintings using my sketch instead of a photo. Or just my memories!

These skies are all so gorgeous and dramatic. That first one reminds me a lot of conditions driving home a few days ago outracing a rainstorm, the clouds in the distance had so many layers, shapes and colors it was dizzying! Thanks for the tip!