Here in part 3 of my oil painting demo of a Texas landscape I move on to painting clouds and the sky.
To begin the sky I start at the horizon. I do this to judge my values against the distant hill and values on the shadowed side of the tree up against the sky area. Click image to see a larger view.
Just as in the landscape portion of the painting the goal is to achieve a sense of distance. It is not some blue flat backdrop for the rest of the painting. There is aerial perspective in the sky and a diminishing size on the clouds as they move into the distance. The amount of dust particles or other adulterants floating in the air has an effect on the colors as the recede just as in the landscape portion. Typically white clouds are somewhat “whiter” for lack of a better word closer to you with often a discernible shift in the color of the white portion of the clouds towards orange to a pinkish hue near the horizon.
In the photo below of some white clouds you can see what I’m talking about somewhat at least. Notice how the whites have shifted to a pinkish gray towards the horizon.
Also the contrast becomes more subtle between the light and shadow areas of the clouds as they recede and colors become grayer. I’m not talking white and black gray here. Just duller in intensity. I chose a variety of violet grays for this painting. Also be sure to overlap some clouds. This will make your painting more authentic and create a greater sense of depth.
After I establish a few of the clouds I then paint in the rest of the blue portion of the sky.
Think of the sky of having 3 bands. A top section, middle and bottom and each section is further away. The top has more blue with a touch of red, so I use some ultramarine blue to the middle color which has more phthalo blue in it. The reason is that there is often a yellow element shifting the sky towards green as it recedes. I even use a little phthalo green. But once it gets to the horizon it shifts to a gray.
Here’s the sky in context to the rest of the painting at this stage.
In the next session I will move onto the rest of the landscape.