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Saturday, June 15, 2019

Step by Step to Beautiful Clouds: Photo Demo

'They Dance in the Sky'           9x12         pastel        ©Karen Margulis

I am in a Sky Painting mood! Maybe it was the wonderful skies I just experienced in New Mexico but I have several ideas going for sky and cloud paintings. I will share them this week. I thought you might enjoy this mini step by step demo from my blog archives. If you want to see a similar painting come to life in a video demo be sure to check out my newly released Sky and Cloud video on my YouTube channel.

Enjoy this demo!
I decided to paint from one of my photos from the Southwest. I took photos of my progress so enjoy the step by step demo.

I am working on a piece of great Canson Mi-Teintes paper on the smooth side. I begin by blocking in the big shapes including the bog cloud shapes since they will be large cumulous type clouds.

Next I paint the blue sky. I leave room for the larger clouds so I don't have to paint the light values of the clouds over the blue sky.  I make sure there is a transition of color from darker cooler blue to a paler warmer blue at the horizon.

After the sky is blocked in I work on the ground. I used a dark brown and dark green to block in the shrubs. I use three different ochre pastels to lay in the desert sand. I don't rub in any of this first layer because the gray tone of the paper works to unify the painting.

Time for the clouds! I begin with the shadow areas of the clouds and I layer ochre and violet to make a gray.

I add the lights on the clouds with a very pale yellow and peach. I lightly cover the shadow areas so they are not so dark and stormy.

Next I brighten the larger clouds with a vey light yellow (almost white) and pure white in a few spots.
The brightest clouds are directly overhead or at the top of the painting.

It is now time to work on the ground. The painting is about the sky so I need to downplay the stuff on the ground. I simplify the tangle of desert shrubs using simple shapes of greens.

I add some lighter sand colors to the ground and a touch of blue for a spice. I call the painting done and upload it to the blog. Then I realize I am not really done. So back to the easel for more work.

Now I am finished! I didn't like the bare hill in the center of the painting so I added some shrubs and a darker sand color. I also liked the hint of blue and how it suggested a little peek of water. I decided to extent the 'water' by adding a couple of marks of blue. I also used a darker color for my signature. I didn't like how bright it was.

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