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Painting Dramatic Skies: Senstitive Edges

Painting Dramatic Skies: Senstitive Edges

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Painting Dramatic Skies: Senstitive Edges

5/5 (2 ratings)
208 pages
1 hour
Aug 4, 2015



Painting skies has fascinated artists for centuries. We are aware of the sky because it sets the rhythm of our lives as the sun rises and sets.

This ebook explores the sky and how to paint it.
Look at the clouds and discover how to harness and control the creation of hard and soft edges that instil clarity and intrigue into your painting. This skill ensures the transience of your cloud formations
Color -learn how to work with any hue and develop interesting grays. Discover how to infuse your sky with the warmth of a real scene. The sky sets the theme for color in the landscape.
Painting convincing illusions of distance in a sky gives any landscape painting either a fabulous focus or a dramatic backdrop. The spatial strategies needed are specific to the sky and are not the same as those used for the land aspect of a landscape. These differences are clearly enunciated.
Mood is obviously the most exciting aspect when painting a sky and discussion of tone and how this is the key to produce magical moods.
Finally the book discusses composition and how a sky can be the total focus, a background or how a reflective segment of sky can add interest in an image that does not technically have room for a sky above the landscape.

This is the last volume in a series of 10 ebooks in the “Painting with Ev Hales”. It is another ebook full of ideas, instruction and inspiration. Reinforcing the value of en plein air painting for this subject, it is a fitting way to complete this collection of ebooks. All of these ebooks will inspire you to continue your journey of discovery into the magic world of painting.
Aug 4, 2015

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Painting Dramatic Skies - Ev Hales



The sky is a constant in our world. The sky holds the sun, moon, stars and clouds. As such it is the source of the main elements of life - light, warmth and rain.

No matter what happens on the ground, in the sky every morning the sun rises and every evening the sun sets. It is a universal constant. The rhythm of this natural phenomenon gives the world an order and is the indicator that the world is in sync. It is amazing to think that people, since humans first walked this earth, have looked to the sky and seen almost exactly the same thing we see today. Perhaps it was clearer in the past without all the reflected light and pollution from our cities, but essentially the sky has not changed. It is sobering, comforting and unifying to think that the fascination associated with painting the sky has not diminished. I am just as in awe of the sky and challenged by it as were any of the great artists in history. I have no doubt that artists in another 100 years will be similarly inspired.

What is it about the sky that poses a never ending challenge?

I think the fascination has something to do with the transience of the sky. Indeed it is only since photography that we have been able to freeze a sky moment and really examine what is happening at a particular instant in the sky. Does this detailed analysis help us in our attempts to capture it on paper or canvas? Are artists since photography more convincing with their portrayals than those who worked without the aid of this technology?

Plate 1 was painted on location as a storm was approaching across the water. I finished the foreground rocks later in the studio but the sky sensation has been captured.

I do not think a static photograph of a sky moment allows an artist to capture the essence of a sky. It certainly makes it easier to see the detail, but is that where the essence lies?

I am asking a lot of questions and the answers or suggestions that will help you find the answers will be addressed in the following chapters of this ebook. However if you are looking for a simple formula then you are perhaps in the wrong place because nothing is simple about a sky and it is in the continual variation that the magic is held.

Structure of this ebook:

I have divided this ebook into 3 sections.

1. The first section covers the characteristics of the sky and the tools needed to paint it.

2. The second section deals with the mood of the sky and how to establish this effectively.

3. The third explores different ways the artist can use the sky in a painting.

Section 1:

1. Clouds

Clouds, or lack of them, provide a key indicator of what is happening in a sky. Clouds are the informal shapes that break the constant blue of the sky. On the land, trees, buildings, rocks, hills and water all feature as different objects in a landscape. The sky is just filled with clouds - all different kinds of clouds and levels of clouds, but all clouds and all insubstantial in their form. Learn how to use a variety of clouds to create interesting skies when you are painting.

2. Edge control

Transience is one of the key words associated with clouds. To create a feeling of imminent change you need to be able to control the quality of the edges you make. If you can diffuse an area where blue turns to gray this implies movement and an interchange of spaces and shapes that suggests transition and transience. This fundamental skill is needed to create the elusive feeling of a sky filled with clouds.

3. Color

A sky can include any color on your palette. The sun provides light which when broken into the colors of the light spectrum creates color. Gray is one color, and I use this term deliberately, found in the sky. I see the gray in the sky as a flavor or hint of hue rather than a neutral as found when black and white are mixed together. If you want to learn about how many grays there are in nature then looking at the sky is the place to do it. If you want to discover how gray is not just a mixture of black and white then all you need to do is look at the heavens and you will see a myriad of grays that suggest one hue or another. I will explore the colors that are found in the grays seen in the sky and focus on how to interpret this neutral element in your painting. Painting skies can become a lifetime fascination.

4. Distance

When travelling in outback Australia I am constantly amazed by the vastness of the sky. It completely surrounds you. When driving in a flat sparse landscape, the sense of a majestic sky is amplified. When approaching a more undulating and foliaged area the space becomes crowded and cluttered with detail. The big sky fills your view when set against outback plains or an ocean view. You do not need anything else in your painting unless you want it.

The sky is as rich in dimension as a landscape where foreground, middle ground and background include overlapping objects as well as changes in hue. It is just not filled with stable and solid objects. The changes in size, detail, hue and the degree of overlapping are similar but need to be treated a little differently from the land component of a landscape because nothing is solid. Creating the sensation of a never ending space in a sky is one of the main painting challenges discussed in detail in this ebook. It explains how to achieve this illusion of space simply and what to avoid when working on a small piece of canvas or paper.

Section 2:

5. Mood and tone

The sky is not just above us, it completely surrounds us and we are most aware of this when the sky has become a dense mist or fog and seems to envelop us in its density. This is seen in Plate 22 where the children riding their bikes on the mountain are being swallowed up within a few meters, so dense is the mountain mist. Whatever the sky is doing, be it clear blue and filled with light, diffused by mist or covered by dark ominous clouds, it is the barometer for the day’s mood. Each morning we look out the window at the sky to assess what kind of day it is going to be because the sky communicates the changing moods of each day. These aspects are extensively discussed in this Section 2.

Tone and color, which both affect our personal mood, are also linked inextricably to the expression of the mood of a sky. I explore how to use the tonal element of the sky to harness the potential of this phenomenon when painting skies.

Section 3 explores how to use a sky in your paintings.

6. Composition

Air movement provides energy and this occurs when there is a wind or a change in air pressure. The movement will push the moist air held in a cloud across the sky sometimes so fast you do not quite believe what you are seeing. The way the clouds move can bring a dynamic quality and diagonal movement into a tranquil setting. This

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