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Thursday, September 8, 2016

How you Look at Clouds may determine how you Paint them

"Vikeholmen Lighthouse , Skudeneshavn, Norway"  Acrylic on canvas
I once heard that unless your clouds are the center of interest, don’t paint what you see – paint what people expect and want to see clouds look like. In other words, don’t allow the clouds to “steal the show.”

I’ve had to work at clouds. Landscapes sometimes overwhelm me. I always do better focusing on portraits and close-ups of details. But I want to do better. I love to study cloud formations and enjoy their beauty.

What do you see in the shapes of clouds? I see teddy bears and turtles, and fat round babies. I see enormous faces from different places. My imagination depends on what kind of day it is.

Judy Collins saw things in the clouds around her (inspired by Joni Mitchell’s words):

“Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere, I've looked at clouds that way
But now they only block the sun they rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done, but clouds got in my way

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all.”




If you want to catch Collins singing, watch this video. 
 

Is there a right and a wrong way to paint clouds? Some people think so. I did not get into a juried show once because the judge did not like my clouds. I've since tried to improve upon them.

"Beach Buddies II" 20 x 16 oil on canvas
Two different artists below show you two very different techniques. One starts with the “lights” and makes small circles, adding the darks later. The other starts with the darkest darks making odd rather than defined shapes. Both agree that the results should suggest transparency.

Tim Gagnon likes to create fluffy cumulus clouds.


Mark Waller, the artist below, believes that clouds should be made up of random shapes. Like Gagnon, he believes that paint should be applied gently and loosely. “Little circles” should come after not first, and be defined by the dark straight edged underpinnings.


"Vikeholmen Lighthouse, Skudeneshavn, Norway" a close-up view 20 x 16 acrylic on canvas