July 29, 2011 - How to Paint Clouds (Finally)

Believe one who has proved it.
-- Virgil, Aeneid

I thought I could live with my previous clouds, but I could not. Ergo, I set off on a cloud-chasing mission.

A lot of folks will tell you how to paint clouds. But Tim Gagnon will tell you how to do it right. This generous soul has posted fabulous YouTube lessons on the art of cloud-painting. I tried to be an apt pupil. Here's what I've concluded:

1. A square brush makes bad clouds.
2. A round brush is a Very Good Thing: see further Tim Gagnon commentary on this issue.
3. Clouds are three-dimensional and must be modeled accordingly.
4. To beat the acrylics clock, you need to pre-mix three or four shades of grey.

Thus armed, off we go.

First, I pre-mixed several shades of grey and kept handy a big blob of unsullied white gesso. I also trimmed off a sponge brush for dabbing:

I next applied the shades of grey in layers (darkest to lightest), blending each layer out with a dry filbert brush:

On the final layer, I preserved a few hard edges:

What a beautiful difference.  At this point, much emboldened, I set down my practice canvas and again attacked the poor tragic clouds in my actual workpiece.

Workpiece before:

Ew. Workpiece after:

Ah-ha!  These were vastly improved but still a bit harsh, so for the next 24 hours I slapped on a gesso glaze every time I walked by the dining room table. The final product:

Splendiferous. Float me away on a fleecy cloud o' bliss. Now I must go write a thank-you note to Mr. Gagnon.

1 comment:

Maarit said...

Ah, excellent. I had no idea how to paint clouds, only stormy Turner skies.