Peninsula clouds

Peninsula clouds, 2010 by frankeber

Peninsula Clouds, 2010
24″ x 19″ : 61 cm x 48.3 cm

Before the big storm moved in I took the time to get some good shots of the Palos Verdes Peninsula with clouds billowing above it. I always wanted to paint this view looking south from the pier. Most of the time it looks a bit ‘boring’ with cerulean blue skies, the ocean, the headland and the sand. I wanted to paint it so the center of interest would be the sky. In our area you don’t get to see a lot of cumulus cloud formations as it is almost always sunny and cloudless. Not that I am complaining but this time of the year is perfect for nice and interesting skies.

This painting is all about the sky. Painting clouds in watercolor can be tricky, but with a few preliminaries it can turn out quite nice. One thing to remember is that they paint themselves if you let them! The sky needs to be painted in one go and it helps to pre-wet your paper to create nice soft edges. But not everywhere! It is important to leave some areas dry to also have some hard edges where clouds meet the blue sky. Of course, that depends on the look of the actual sky you are doing.

When applying the washes it is imperative to work quickly, roughing in the shapes of the clouds and painting the sky areas around it. I premix two big puddles and use two paint brushes so I don’t have to go back to mixing more right in the middle of it all. Since the paper keeps drying while you apply the washes you should get a wide range of beautiful edges, from soft to broken to hard. I love getting the broken shapes that only happen on damp paper. They are the trickiest and riskiest to achieve as the paper is just about dry, the possibility of explosions imminent! The key is not to fiddle with it, NEVER go back in with the brush trying to correct! Usually I like to put some figures in my paintings, but I felt it unnecessary this time. The seagulls rising into the sky give it some life and the absence of people add to the desired mood, in my opinion.

I wanted to take this last post of the year to thank all of you who showed interest in my blog this last year! I appreciate your visits and supportive comments! They give me confidence to keep this going, not just to promote myself but because I feel like some things I say are actually useful to some of you and that makes it all worth while!

Happy Holidays everyone.

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10 thoughts on “Peninsula clouds

  1. lesliepaints

    Excellent description of how to lay in a sky, Frank. It does seem to work best to not keep going back in after the paper has dried. I really like the bits of sparkle on the water. Did that happen from drybrushing or frisket drybrushing before water was painted? How did you do that? I really like the heavy and wet, misty look on the landform in the background, too. Beautiful, Frank. Thank-you for blogging. You have helped me, but more than that I truly enjoy having the opportunity to see your work! Happy Holidays to you too!

    1. frankeber Post author

      Hi Leslie! It’s all dry brushing, no masking fluid or tape for this bad boy! I use rough paper and a big squirrel mop to achieve those results. So both the waves and the distant water near the shore are just the white of the paper. The misty look comes from connecting shapes, you always want to have a seamless transition (almost always) It’s hard to explain with words, just try to have no isolated shapes sitting by itself anywhere. Connect the headland with the water etc. there are no real hard edges in nature. you can omit all details and things as long as you have your shapes connect, it ALWAYS looks right.
      A special thanks to you, Leslie for your regular visits here. You have no idea how much that helped me this last year! I feel like I just get going here and your support is much appreciated!

      1. lesliepaints

        Thank-you for blogging! You have helped me when you share some of your technique. I know I paint completely differently but your composition and your attention to plein air work somehow helps me stay focused. I need to sit down with a piece of paper and practice drybrushing with several different brushes. Then, perhaps, begin to learn where I can possibly use it in my work. That misty look is like large granulating washes cinnected to each other. Awesome. Merry Christmas!

      2. frankeber Post author

        thanks Leslie, you are right on – it is like large granulating washes that are connected! Nice to know I am helping you in some obscure way, sometimes the hardest part is to just keep going! All the best, Merry Christmas!

  2. Nicholas Simmons

    Thanks for the visit, Frank, and I really like all of the paintings you’ve posted here – great work! Congratulations on the show and your signature award – I think NWS is the more progressive society, and they made a good choice with you. (I’m even more progressive – I forgot to enter. lol) I’ll look forward to meeting up with you one of these days, keep cranking out the hits, tovarish. 🙂

    1. frankeber Post author

      Wow, Nick! Great to see you here and thanks so much for that note. That really made my day! I was actually hoping you’d be at the NWS thing but like you said, we’ll meet eventually! I know you are very progressive, I am a big fan! Not just saying that – there are only a few artists out there who have a unique style and you’re one of them. I can spot your paintings anywhere. It’s an inspiration because that’s my goal for my work as well. Thanks again.

  3. Noemí

    A very relaxing landscape. I like New Year’s Day to be on that beach to begin the year with this great beauty around me.

    Merry Christmas and a Creative New Year!

  4. Carol King

    Love your dramatic sky painting. I like the fact that the sky is the focus of the painting. There is so much movement in the sky as well as great drama.

    I also love the bright sunlight on the water. And the birds are a great finishing touch, adding more movement to a very vibrant painting.

    I really like painting skies. Thanks for the info. I find that the less I do with a sky, the better it is.

    1. frankeber Post author

      Carol, thanks for the comment! Less is more- for sure- although that probably goes for watercolor painting in general. A happy and successful 2011 to you!

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