Monday, May 17

How I Paint Wispy Clouds in Watercolor

My Watercolor Clouds

The watercolor that I’m currently working on is a landscape view in which the sky is almost 50 percent of the composition. So, the sky is important to the overall picture.

The day on which the reference photo was taken was partly cloudy to overcast at times during the day. That is, it was not one of those dazzlingly sunny days where everything stands out in bold relief.

At the time of day the photo was taken the clouds were rolling on by. I confess, I wouldn’t know meteorology or the different names for cloud types even if they were to introduce themselves to me in the park.

I do know these clouds were relatively high and benign. By that I mean these clouds were somewhat wispy with a few puffs. They did not contain rain, and they were mostly the same color of white or light blue all over—no giant puffs, no thunder heads, no purple underbellies.

I want my watercolor to capture the essence of these clouds since they are an important part of the painting.

Here’s how I painted them.

Key point:  I treated the white clouds themselves as negative space, and the sky was the space I painted. In other words, I only painted the sky and not the clouds. This may seem counter-intuitive, but it works well.

Using the reference photo as my guide, of course, I dampened the paper using a 1-inch foam brush only where the blue sky was.

I got the paper pretty wet so that it warped a little and even formed puddles. I used a paper tissue to remove excess water and get rid of the puddles, but the paper was still juicy. Do this ever so lightly so that you don't make fingerprint indentions in the paper that will hold pigment and appear as dark spots.

Then I mixed Ultramarine Light blue and Cerulean blue with water in a small flat container. I tested the color on a paper strip to make sure it would be the right color and value of blue in the sky.

Using the same foam brush, I quickly brushed the blue paint onto the wet parts of the sky. Do it quickly and haphazardly. If you’re too deliberate, it won’t look natural. I gave the foam brush a twirl around the edges of the "clouds" and this gave them a finite space.

Where it was needed (in my artist’s opinion), I dabbed some spots lightly with a paper tissue to remove excess paint. Again, do this ever so lightly.

Then all you have to do is stand back and let it dry. Beautiful wispy clouds!

Until next blog…

1 comment:

  1. Oh, thank you. I've always been wondering how to do that!