Saturday, November 25, 2017

Painting Clouds Over a Sky Gradation

You can paint a cloudy sky in acrylic over an acrylic sky gradation that you prepare first in the studio.

This new video shows how fast the sky changed over the hour and a half that we were painting. (Link to video)

I set up my easel with the full sunlight on the pages. That way the brightness level of the art was close to the light level of the scene itself. I shot the video with a Canon EOS M6, which has a built in time lapse video feature.

Pro Tips
1. Acrylic is good for this because the paint film is durable. Casein might chip off a bit on facing pages.
2. The sky should gradate from a more saturated blue at the top to a paler and warmer blue at the horizon.
3. Don't make the blue sky gradation too dark.
4. Use a small spray bottle or mister to slightly dampen the sky first. That will give you soft edges.
5. Paint from background to foreground.
6. If you make the objects on the ground plane small and far away, the sky will look bigger.

The same idea works fine in oil. This plein air study is 16x20
Supplies and Links
For the sky, I used Tri-Art Liquid Acrylic 
For the clouds, I used Acryla Gouache, which is opaque and handles like gouache
I keep a fine spray mister to dampen the sky gradation on location before painting the clouds.
I'm using a Pentalic watercolor sketchbook
Check out my videos on Sellfy and Gumroad. They're inexpensive, fun to watch, and packed with information.

Previous posts
Using "sky panels" for oil painting
Clouds: Growth and Dispersion
Sky Blue (Explaining the two gradations in a normal sky) 


Susan Krzywicki said...

how long did you leave the sketchbook open to allow for thorough drying?

James Gurney said...

I painted the sky in the studio first the day before.

Glenn Tait said...

As Acryla Gouache is an basically an acrylic was there an advantage using regular acrylics for the sky versus the Acryla gouache?

James Gurney said...

Glenn, You could use the same acrylic for the sky and the clouds, as long as it's opaque enough. I was using Richeson "Tri-Arts" for the priming color. It's a liquid acrylic with good flow properties that made the gradation easier. But a tube acrylic would work fine too. This is where you'd want to experiment on scraps in the studio first until you know what they're going to do.

Glenn Tait said...

Thanks James. I recently recived a sample of liquid acrylic I'll have to give it a try. Yeah, those scraps of paper are indispensable!

Unknown said...

Seeing those clouds is so inspirational. Now I want some acrylics for Christmas.

arturoquimico said...

Maestro... I have been using gouache, acrylics and acryla gouache almost exclusively to oils since following your blog... I have no problems with hard edges... but making soft and lost edges with these materials is difficult... for the past 2 years it's like every week I'm struggling... You make a passing comment about it here... a video / blog on creating hard, soft and lost edges with these materials would be appreciated and probably purchased! Thanks.

James Gurney said...

Arturo, Yes! Soft edges are the challenge in any water based medium. I'll keep that in mind for future videos.

Howard Lyon said...

Wow! What gorgeous little paintings. I am inspired!

Tobias Gembalski said...

Great painting, great video and great tip for painting sky motives. Thank you.

Brian Pittman said...

Very beautiful painting.