How Do I Paint Clouds

This lesson is for intermediate to advanced painters that are interested in expanding on their vocabulary of techniques! These under-painting ideas can add spontaneity and excitement to your work.

This is a two-part lesson. First a Follow-Along Demo. Follow along at your own pace but remember my suggestions for time limits!

Next is an Independent Assignment meant to expand on some of the principles presented in the Follow-Along Demo and to personalize your work. When you have completed both parts you can upload one or both images to receive a personal video critique on your work. Remember that the more mileage you get, the more progress you make, so I recommend that you complete both parts before submitting your images.

Who it’s for – This lesson is a nice warm up for all levels! It’s also a great beginner lesson on how to plan for all your shapes rather than painting the clouds over the top of the blue sky. Follow along for a first try then do three or four small versions of different types of skies! Eventually you’ll want to be able to paint all kinds of skies, from billowy clouds to dramatic sunsets!

What’s it’s About – Planning for the shapes of the blue sky and the clouds and knitting them together.

Set a Personal Focus – Maybe you’ll work on getting some soft gradations or soft edges without using your fingers to blend!

Set a Time Limit – Keep it simple and don’t spend more than half and hour on it. If you find yourself spending two or three hours on it, it’s time to STOP and try another version! I recommend looking at the supplemental video: To Blend or Not To Blend

Materials

  1. Your Pastels
  2. An 8 x 10 piece of Colorfix paper. I used the Elephant color for this lesson, but you could use a different color or different brand of paper if you like. Please use sanded pastel paper!
  3. Sketch book, pencil, pen or markers for thumbnails

Extras:

  1. Easel
  2. Baby wipes
  3. An apron

Part I
Follow-Along Demo

Before You Start, a Few Tips for This Lesson

  1. Stop the video whenever you need to – it’s one of the great things about learning this way. Plus, you don’t need to take notes!
  2. Don’t feel funny about copying my pieces! It’s a time-honored way to learn and I know you’ll develop your own “style” in due course. I give you lots of ways to take off on your own and expand on the demos/lessons.
  3. Take your time, but not really! I want you to speed up a bit so you can start to develop the “whole” piece all at once.
  4. Do it differently. If it feels uncomfortable, you’re likely on the right track.
  5. Remember the three “P’s” Perfection, Procrastination, Paralysis. There is no such thing as a perfect painting, so don’t even worry about it.
  6. If you have trouble, ask for help! My team and I want you to have a great experience doing the lessons!!
  7. There are 5 stages in each lesson. The beginning of each stage is a good time to pause the video, take a short break and check in on how you’re doing.

Part 2
Independent Assignment

Do a several small versions using a variety of reference material, either the ones provided or your own. It’s nice to try different kinds of skies so you’ll feel more confident to try something similar on a larger piece later. Maybe a photo-taking excursion is in order! I’m a firm believer that mileage is one of the secrets to progressing as a painter.

When You’ve Completed Both Part 1 & 2
When you’re done, click here to upload pics of your painting and I’ll send you a Personal Video Critique. I’m curious what you’ll come up with! The first critique request is a free bonus for you. If you’d like additional critiques, normally a Personal Video Critique is $97 but you can send a message my support team to get a discounted critiques package – I’ve already told them that since you are taking lessons from me, you get at least 40% off.

If you aren’t ready for a personal critique from me, then be sure to upload your work to our Community page where your peers can take a look. I often comment on the Community submissions as well – it won’t be a video critique but I really enjoy seeing your work and helping you when I can.

Next Up!
Try Lesson #2!

The Stages (applies to both part 1 & 2)

  1. Planning
    • Crop your reference, (feel free to crop it just like mine or change it up a bit).
    • Do a quick 5 to 10 minute thumbnail. This is a great way to get a feel for the piece and visualize the final version.
  2. Drawing
    • Scale up your thumbnail to the correct proportion Watch my video on scaling a sketch!
    • Lightly sketch in the essential shapes.
    • Use your thumbnail sketch more than your photo reference at this point.
  3. Blocking In
    • Establish the essential shapes of the piece, (3 to 5 largest shapes) Use the sides of the sticks).
    • Establish values for each of the main shapes. What is the overall or average value of each shape?
    • Get a feel for how the piece works as a whole.
  4. Adding On
    • Add a variety of hues (colors) of the same value to each shape.
    • Add texture and smooth out gradations where needed. Watch my video To Blend or Not to Blend.
    • Add a light source or direction of light.
    • Add detail.
  5. Finishing
    • Resolve any areas that need attention or TLC.
    • Slow down make color adjustments where needed.
    • Go the extra mile and exaggerate contrast and intensity where needed. Give yourself permission to do this!
How Do I Paint Clouds
Download the Lesson PDF

Enjoy “How Do I Paint Clouds”!

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Download the Images PDF
To Download the PDF file:
Ctrl-Click (MAC) and choose “Save File As”
Right Click (PC) to download files.

Click Here to Download the PDF

SUPPLEMENTAL VIDEOS

Lesson Library I, Bronze & Silver

Watch Marla's Previous Critiques of This Lesson

Complete This Lesson?