When you consider how much area a sky occupies in the average landscape painting, its strange why many landscape painters regard the sky as merely a backdrop to the subjects in their paintings. For me, the sky is an important part of the painting. It may have something to do with the fact that I live in a very flat landscape and here you can’t but notice the sky in its entirety.
After a few woodland paintings, where the sky is also a backdrop, I needed to produce a sky. Whatever about the rest of the painting, a sky is definitely a work of the imagination. This should mean anything goes but not so. If the sky is in anyway ‘peculiar’ it upsets the entire painting. When I paint clouds I’m always watchful of the accidental ‘odd’ shape that can creep into a pattern and dominate the painting. You know what I mean, that wooly sheep, Homer Simson profile or prancing pony that you never noticed until its pointed out to you and you can’t understand why you didn’t see it before. The funny thing is that all these shapes are in the natural cloud world as any child will show you but are not acceptable in a painting.
This painting has a dominant ‘grotesque’ cloud shape. But as I was painting it I was still conscious of the possibility of producing a shape which would have the viewer thinking about something else, other than a cloud. I think I’ve managed to produce such a shape but it was not easy. There was a lot of shaping and reshaping.
The fact that its seen as deliberate and not a mistake makes it more acceptable. To strengthen this idea, the tree also has an unusual shape but the rest of the scene is mundane and normal. Recently I’ve been experimenting producing random patterns into otherwise normal landscapes. By using lots of solvent and allowing it to flow helps in this. For example, the trunk of a tree seems to look more natural if there is a pattern of random shapes produced by the flow of liquid. But as with cloud shapes, this can produce unwanted ‘peculiar’ results.
The painting is 18″ x 14″ and has 3 colours, Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna and Cobalt Blue plus black and white. As usual I’ve used solvent only with no medium.
Here’s the video. See you soon.