"The sky, a perfect canvas, offers clouds nonetheless. They shift and drift and beg interpretation...such is the nature of art."- from Jeb Dickerson
I have always enjoyed looking at clouds. When we are day dreaming, or as children, we may see them as animals or a fantasy scene. One moment they are there and then they are gone. We look at clouds to see what weather is approaching. Watching the clouds as they move, come together, and are blown across the sky is fascinating. We just have to slow down enough to look up, and appreciate their fleeting beauty.
Many songs, poems, and stories have been written about clouds: Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell, "I wander lonely as a cloud," from a poem by William Wordsworth, and the childrens' story, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, by Judi Barrett.
Watercolor is the perfect medium to portray clouds. With it's transparence, and wet-in-wet possibilities, it is easy to capture the softness of clouds.
Techniques: Be sure to have plenty paint mixed up in the mixing area of your palette. Load up your brush with color before you begin on your wet paper. I suggest blue, a mixed grey, and whatever else you might need. I like to mix my greys to add depth and interest to the painting. Raw Sienna is my favorite for adding a warm yellow color to skies. It does not turn green when added to blue like most yellows do. I prefer to use granulating colors like Ultramarine Blue and Manganese Blue in my wet-in-wet skies. Even though I usually have a photograph of clouds to work from, I do not try and copy that image. Instead, let the paint show you where the clouds belong.
"Why do I love clouds? Because you can't save a cloud like you can save a leaf or a rock- clouds are now." from Terri Guillemets
I hope you enjoy painting clouds. Until next time...
I have been an artist and craftsperson all my life. I have lived in Willits for over 30 years and am very active in the art community. I have been the recipient of several arts grants and artist residencies in the local schools. I have been teaching watercolor for Mendocino College for 16 years.