Painting clouds has been a passion of mine for a long time ~ nearly two decades!
I didn’t realize how much I LOVE painting them until my retreat in Tuscany this fall. I was taking a lunch break from the easel and took my sandwich and drink out on the veranda.
As I sat there soaking up the Tuscan sun, my eyes and heart wandered. I had nothing in particular on my mind. I simply rested.
The next thing I knew ~ a vision of this cloud riveted my attention.
I took my drink back to the studio and squeezed some blue pigments on my palette. With the Charvin Paint, I use full strength pigment without any medium ~ just like pastel.
Clouds & Dreams
It’s a dream come true to have my oil paints behave like pastels. I’ve been dreaming of this for such a long time, I thought it would never come to be.
Like pastels, I scrub the pigment directly onto the linen and mix the colors on the canvas ~ not the palette. Oh, some preliminary mixing does happen on my palette. But I love letting the viewer’s eye blend the colors.
When this happens, each person becomes a participant in seeing the painting in their own way. Colors meld with each person’s energy fields, you know how everyone has a different aura. And how it can change from day to day, mood to mood.
I have been experimenting lately. I am experimenting with bold color shapes. Pink Cloud is a wonderful example.
As you may know, my painting method involves gestural calligraphy and intuitive color use. This approach has served me well. It’s a fine line between thinking too much and just doing it. We are talking about the marriage between head and heart here!
A dear friend asked me once, ‘why I paint so rapidly?’ I’m sure she was thinking, ‘if she would slow down and do it carefully, she wouldn’t have to re-do it so many times!’
What happens when I try to do it carefully, is that I have too much control of how it goes down. More importantly, the creator has too little influence when I hold the brush so tightly!
Cutting loose is a fine balance. Creating a dance between head and heart in which neither gets toes stepped on ~ and both shine!
Everyone loves clouds! Dreamers and scientists, artists and accountants. What is is about clouds that speaks to us all?
People have told me for many years how much they love my clouds. I love painting them. Perhaps being a Gemini, an air person, helps. There are some essentials to remember when painting clouds. These will help painters and viewers alike in enjoying being in the clouds.
3 Essentials of Cloud Painting
1 Establish the Mood
Clouds are moody. Drama, uplifting or brooding. Know what you want to say with your clouds before you start painting.
This painting was inspired by my plein air painting yesterday. The clouds overhead shadowed my subject. Yet few actually appeared in the painting. In this painting clouds would be the subject.
I wanted the brilliance and warmth of an October sky. The way one feels ~ peaceful, elated and uplifted ~ on such an October cloud
2 ~ Establish Grounding
Clouds are best appreciated from a human perspective. Keep the viewers’ feet on the ground.
Use a vantage point from earth, not above. Use grounding colors.
Selecting my vantage point for this painting, I walked through out the town looking at possible painting locations. One had distant landscape with many clouds high above it. Another had several hillsides with wispy clouds. Yet another looked up at this same hillside from a lower vantage point.
I selected this one from my balcony. It put me eye to eye with the distant villa and tree line. This vantage point raises the viewer to the mountain top, nearly touching the cloud. I like the idea of bringing my viewers up here with me.
3 ~ Keep it Simple
Don’t put in so many details. Let your viewers wander the space between earth and clouds. A few choice details provide stabilization. Too many overwhelm.
Use a big brush to paint as much as possible. Switch to a small brush for the final touches. If you don’t need it, don’t use a small brush at all.
In this painting you can see the unfinished one on the easel becoming too busy. Too much detail in the cloud and foreground begin to distract from the mood. I used a dry brush to smooth out these unwanted details. The final version leaves much more space for the viewer to be in the painting between clouds and earth.