Ideally, you want it to blend smoothly into the Cerulean Blue, with no obvious streaks or sharp edges. I dropped streaks of my very weak mix of Ultramarine Blue, Alizarin Crimson and Paynes Gray mix for the cloud shadows. For the next sky painting. I wanted to do Cumulus clouds again but this time add some perspective to convey a greater sense of depth. I find that it helps to visualise the clouds as a series of simple cuboid shapes in one point perspective. Clouds are lit from above and there is often a corresponding shadow on the underside.
As before, I started out with a sketch and wet the whole paper before painting in the Cerulean Blue sky. While the paint is still wet, I lifted out some wispy cirrus cloud shapes. In this sunset. Which is brighter and more intense than Raw Sienna. Much closer to Orange.
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I could have easily added some pinks or reds in there too. I used a Bamboo brush for painting around the clouds with my initial wash of blue. I could have just as easily used a hake, or a round brush. You could substitute Cobalt Blue for Ultramarine and a whole range of reds pinks and purples are possible. My preferred method has been to paint around the clouds.
Instead, I could have used the lift out technique. Instead of painting around the clouds. I just prefer the end result that I achieve by designing the cloud shapes into the painting, rather than improvising and lifting them out on the fly. For me, when painting in a fast drying medium like watercolour. Improvising under time pressure, tends to lead to poor results more often than it leads to happy accidents.
Avoid the temptation to keep going back and constantly fuss and fiddle with a sky to get it just right.
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Painting skies means that you are going to be painting wet into wet. This means that the paint will just do more or less what it wants. Allow the blue to diffuse into the Raw Sienna naturally and organically rather than heavy handedly brushing it in. Doing this will cause the colours to mix, rather than subtly blend.
The end result being green skies! If you need to go back and darken an area of sky.
Let it dry completely first. Then you can re wet the whole thing and paint another layer on top. Let's move on to some painting skills. You may've heard me bang on about this before. And I'm happy to admit I sound like a broken record! Master gradation , and almost everything you paint becomes much easier. Painting skyscapes is a perfect example. As a skill, I like people to master a very smooth and even gradation of colour. However, Impressionists for example, do not paint that way. I suggest that if you can paint a perfectly even gradation, you can then paint a looser version easily.
Aim for the moon and hit an eagle, I say - better than aiming for the eagle and hitting a rock. Make a large mixture of White, the barest hint of Cadmium Yellow Medium and a touch of French Ultramarine Blue, and paint a band across the bottom. Add a tiny amount of French Ultramarine Blue to your colour, and paint a band above the first one. Pull the two together so that you have a smooth blend.
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Repeat this process upwards, gradually adding more French Ultramarine Blue. When you are about three quarters of the way up your canvas, start adding tiny amounts of Pthalo Blue and French Ultramarine Blue to the mix, to "cool" the highest part of the sky. There you have it - a beautiful bright sky.
The white, yellow and ultramarine blue combination is the lower part of the sky that is tainted by dust. It is a good idea to exaggerate the contrast between the high and low parts of the sky a little, if you want to paint a bright day. If you must add clouds, try these softer ones first. Remember to be aware of creating the illusion of atmospheric perspective.
Dirty up your white a touch with the barest hints of Cadmium Yellow and Dioxazine Purple But be careful. You only need the most miniscule amount. Paint the clouds low to the horizon. Make them small and flattish. Add white and come up the canvas making them larger as you go.
This one will help illustrate the shift from warmer to cooler when painting sunsets in your skyscapes. For this exercise, we won't use my normal painting process. Normally I would start with the darks, and gradually work my way across the whole painting to lighter, whiter colours. For the purposes of this exercise, I will paint the sky, and then add the clouds into the wet paint. So let's chuck some more paint around!
Take a blob of white and put it in the bottom middle of the canvas. Add a tiny bit of Cadmium Yellow Medium, brushing it in around the white, and pulling the two together. Add a touch more yellow and come out a little further. Add a teensy bit of Dioxazine Purple, coming out and around in a circular movement around the yellow. Using a large dry brush, blend the colours together so you have a smooth-ish transition.
Add a tiny tiny touch of French Ultramarine Blue and continue outwards and upwards, blending nicely with a large dry brush. Add a tiny bit more French Ultramarine Blue and continue to blend upwards. A large dry house painting brush is great for pulling the colours together. Add more French Ultramarine Blue and blend almost to the top edge of the canvas.
Add more French Ultramarine Blue so that from the top edge of the canvas through to almost the bottom there is a lovely progression of warm through cool. You should have something that looks a bit like this. Now we are going to illustrate the shift from warm to cool with some very basic clouds. You should have a poo-ey purpley brown colour more technical terms!
Add this colour to the bottom edge of the canvas - this will give you the effect of clouds close to the horizon and close to the light source. Add more Dioxazine Purple to that mix, and add to the bottom edge of the canvas, working up into the clouds. Making the colours cooler as you come up the canvas gives the appearance of the clouds coming toward you.
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