The Atmosphere of a Moody Sky

This is a good composition to work to: a clear perspective leading to the background, a destination on the horizon, an obvious light source, and a very moody sky.

I drew the horizon line and then the trees, bear in mind the one point perspective that they make on the horizon line. This is a good way of measuring the proportions of the trees. I drew in the light cast by the trees, and then the distant building.

My main consideration was the colour of the sky. I experimented at first on swatches and came to the conclusion that the most appropriate colours were indigo, a mix of Prussian blue and Payne’s grey, and a cerulean blue. As a rule, I do not use masking techniques, so I painted around the shapes of the trees. I find masking can create too rigid an edge, edges that do not usually occur in reality.

I wet the sky area, using a large brush. I let that soak into the paper and wet it again. I then put a layer of indigo blue (washy) on the paper. My intention was to work on wet to damp paper over the course of a three hour period, so I wanted the paper to be soaked well, hence the two liberal coats of water. I painted the cerulean blue around the area of the house and left some of the paper white. I took some time building up layers of paint to suggest the almost opaque areas of cloud. I lifted off some colour using a soft tissue, to suggest the breaks in the cloud. The sky took me around two hours to complete.

I then started work on the trees and landscape. I underpainted both with a lemon yellow, I mixed three shades of green, worked light to dark on the trees, using mostly stipple style brushstrokes.

I painted in the pathway using colour from a dirty palette, the ideal vehicle for mucky tertiary colours. I painted in the shadows cast by the trees using a very dark green (green mixed with a burnt umber).

All through this process I kept evaluating my work by standing back and looking and by taking photographs on a mobile telephone.

I then painted the landscape using a mix of flesh tint and burnt sienna. I painted in the furrows with a darker tone of that mix.

Lastly, I painted in the ranch on the horizon line. I used a light red for the roofs and a white mixed with burnt sienna for the brickwork.

 

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