I have now been painting in oils for six months (since I was a student 40 years ago, painting hard-edge abstracts) and this is my first summer as an oil painter! So far, I’ve been doing small still-life daily paintings, and huge vases, with a tulip interlude. But summer beckons with the big skies of Oxfordshire and I just have to paint these vistas of clouds.
Where do I begin? I’ve never tried to paint clouds before (other than a brief watercolour flirtation last summer). So here is my Plan:
- Study actual clouds and learn about them
- Photograph clouds
- Do plein-air watercolour studies
- Use a how-to book & try these out from step-by-step watercolour projects or my photos
- I have to force myself to copy another artists’ work and feel a bit impatient but it is such valuable way to learn – it is helping me figure out the colours and the shapes and what clouds do. Of course, I will be working from my own photos and using oils, so this is only a process. Luckily it is summer holidays and its quite fun to become absorbed in studying clouds.
- Look at how-to videos by artists, whose clouds I like and take copious notes – I just google ‘You-tube landscapes oils’ then choose the ones I like.
- Plan compositions by camera and sketching.
- Learn the colour theory and make-up of different types of cloud
- Pixellate my digital images to find the colours. You can see the ceruleans and ultramarine blues and all the shades of white!
- Look at the work of other artists to see their approach.
I have set August aside for clouds and I’ll see where to go from here. I’m hoping to do a watercolour nearly every day and can’t wait to get my photos back from the lab, so that I can start to apply what I am learning. When we go to France I hope I’ll do some plein-air studies!