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Friday, October 05, 2018

An Important Sky Painting Tip

'Drama Over Pecos'          8x10          pastel         ©Karen Margulis
 There seems to be a fine line in a sky painting. How much land should there actually be if the painting is all about the sky and clouds?  If there is too much information on the land then the painting risks becoming too busy. But not enough information doesn't allow a visual connection between what is happening on the ground and up in the sky. The story seems incomplete. No matter how interesting or dramatic the sky if there isn't enough information on the ground we don't get a sense of time or place.

I decided that I had two sky demo paintings that needed to be reworked. I had focused solely on the sky in the demos. The clouds were interesting but the paintings felt like only half of a thought. It felt unfinished without any grounding from the land below.


I took out some rubbing alcohol and a cheap brush and I liquified the pastel in the sky. I love doing that! I now had some interesting sky color to respond to. I decided to paint a couple of the many views I have of Pecos New Mexico.

In both the bright sky painting and the stormy sky painting I wanted to leave just enough land in the painting to give the viewer a sense of the place. I considered just adding some tree tops but then that could be anywhere....I wanted the painting to be about the skies over New Mexico. I purposely kept my marks and shapes on the ground simple and subdued. I added just enough detail to suggest mountain, trees and scrub. I was tempted to add more detail in the trees but then they would fight for attention with the sky!


'Brewing Storm'        8x10         pastel



Keep this fine line in mind when you are painting a skyscape. Connect your sky to the ground with a simple description of the landscape.

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