Monday, April 11, 2016

Painting Dramatic Skies Using Oils - 2

Royal Sunset
16x12 Oil on linen

This oil painting “Royal Sunset” is an attempt to create another evening sky with dramatic clouds. The post is a continuation of the last and includes additional tips.
Riverside Light Show
11x14 Oil on stretched canvas

Define the Clouds

Place highlights around the edges, consistent with the direction of light. In “RS”, the sunlight is beaming from the right side of the canvas. Even though the sun is not visible, you can gain a sense of its position above the horizon.

With the second painting, “RLS” the sun is obviously behind the clouds. I used bright white at the edges. The rays extend to the upper portion of the canvas. I avoided painting the sun rays too far to the upper right corner. The majority of the cloud is dark, which also helps to define its opaque qualities.

In both paintings, the value range between the edges and largest cloud surface is wide. The cloud edges are light in color, and the main surface is several shades darker. The surrounding sky is painted in the medium tonal range.

Placement and Use of Silhouettes

Dark or black forms in the foreground and sky can help to define the time of day, add points of interest, and introduce another element into the scene. Keep in mind that silhouettes may become the focal point when they are the “darkest dark”.

The placement of silhouettes should add to the overall composition of the painting. For example, the bird silhouette at the bottom left corner in “RS” was added for balance. It was positioned diagonally from the three birds near the focal cloud, rather than directly underneath them. My intention was to form a visual flow from the lower left corner to the spacious right upper area.

In the next painting, the silhouette is the tree line. It serves as a divider between the water and sky. The sky then becomes the focal area, given more space, activity, and tonal variation than the land or water.

Vary the Layers                                                                

In these paintings, I approached the sky, water, and foreground as individual layers. The top layer contains the most detail. It has the most color and brush stroke variations. Lines in the water layer are created with a finer width and appear softer than the cloud highlights.  The wave lines are similar in color of that entire layer, so the focus shifts to the layer of complexity.

Selecting Colors for Time of Day

Paintings of sunrises and sunsets can often be challenging to distinguish the time of day. I tend to select warm colors for sunrises and cool tones for sunsets, based on color theory. For example, using amber, orange, and yellows can create a sense of energy. Cool colors such as purple, pink, and blue tend to have a calming visual effect and foster a sense of relaxation. In “RS”, I used a small amount of yellow in the sky and cloud’s edge for subtle contrast, while ensuring the overall application was low in saturation. You can see in my last post how a mix of warm and cool colors was applied in sunsets, forming a higher level of intensity.

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