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Wednesday, October 17, 2018

How to Paint an Autumn Sky

'Under Autumn Skies'         8x10        pastel        ©Karen Margulis

Skies are important. Since it is the source of light it sets the tone and mood of the painting. It determines the time of day and quality of the light. Is it bright, warm and sunny? Is it cool, moody and gray? Is it stormy? We have so many choices for painting the sky and each choice will create a unique reality.

Painting the autumn sky is fun but can be a bit tricky. The bright warm colors of fall foliage make such a statement. All of those brilliant reds, oranges and yellows can easily overpower a landscape painting. The sky shouldn't compete with the autumn show!  Here are some ideas for effective autumn sky color:

  • I love a quiet moody sky for an autumn landscape. Think about using dull neutral colors in lighter values. A pale gray violet sky or gray blue sky works well with the intense foliage colors.(see painting above)
  • Try using complements for the sky color. A brilliant blue sky with orange trees is spectacular and really creates a sunny mood. Try a lavender sky for a soft moody contrast with yellow trees.
  • Avoid colors that might clash with the foliage color. For example it is tricky to use pink in the sky with fall foliage. I have always avoided it but I recently saw a sky in New Mexico with cotton candy pink clouds and orange/ yellow trees. I painted it and made it work by adding some pink on the ground so there was a visual connection.
  • I usually like colors in the sky to be echoed somewhere in the landscape. Keep this idea in mind as you choose colors.
  • Busy fall foliage works well with a quiet and simple sky. Remember that the viewer's eye needs somewhere to rest.

The question comes up often.....what do you paint first, the trees or the sky? I will be answering this question next month on my Patreon page. We will be exploring trees all month!

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