Monday, August 19, 2013

Cloudy skies

I have been having lots of fun photographing and painting skies this summer.  We went to a family reunion a few weeks ago that was held in a rural agricultural park.  They use it as a gymkhana grounds so there were lots of pastures, fences and barns to house the horses (and feed them).  We parked our camper by the empty barn facing this pasture.  It was simply lovely - the big blue sky, fluffy clouds, sweet-smelling grasses and wildflowers, and the gentle mooing of the cows just over the ridge.  It was a perfect little spot and a beautiful reminder of how graceful the country can be.
For these clouds, I painted the sky with a wash of cerulean blue, and then blotted the clouds out with dry paper towels wadded up.  The downside of this technique is that you can end up with clouds all the exact same shape and size. So I scrubbed out some other shapes with a wet brush.  I like the effect.  The flowers are purple vetch which is the iconic prairie wild flower.
Do you have a favourite technique for creating clouds?

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Ominous skies

We have had a lot of rain this spring and summer. It rains nearly every day.  Not so good for the gardens, but it results in some pretty spectacular skies.  I live on the prairies so we have a lot of sky. Towards the end of the day, the clouds build up and darken.  Thunder rolls across the sky and lightning spikes downward in a fantastic display of power.  Funnel clouds have often been spotted this year but none have touched the ground.
I was speaking to a man who painted the most wonderful watercolor skies and he told me the secret is to put lots of paint on wet paper and then tilt the paper.  He admitted that it took a lot of practice to get it right, but when it was right it was very beautiful.  I tried that technique here, with mixed results.  I tried to darken the sky with a second layer which did not work at all.  I went in with indigo on a sea sponge and that made it a bit better. I splattered paint with a toothbrush on the foreground to add some variation and interest. So this is another painting that I have worked on fixing and tweaking rather than discarding. It's not perfect, but I like the techniques of tilting and spattering wet on wet, and will definitely try again. Nature is giving me lots of inspiration for dramatic skies this year.