A mentioned in previous post this painting nearly ended up in the scrap heap. The sky part of the painting was a problem. To understand the issue let me explain the process I use to produce a sky for a landscape. After the scene is decided, I make multiple tiny thumbnail sketches (3″x2″ approx.) to decide on the composition. At this stage I will know if I need to add ‘weight’ to a part of the design by using the sky. For example, this painting had a lot going on in the left hand side with a more or less, empty right hand side. So the sky was going to have more going on, on the right, to balance this.
In a way the sky is an inverted landscape, the closest part is directly above the viewer, on the ground the closest part in directly below, both run to the horizon obeying the laws of perspective. So there are 2 landscapes. I try and paint the sky to completion before starting to finish the ‘second’ landscape.
Nowadays I paint the sky ‘landscape’ in a completely different way to the way I paint the ground. Every colour is blended with a large brush. As you can see in the video, I use sweeping diagonal strokes and then vertical and horizontal strokes to blend the shapes. Morphodidius commented in the last post about the magic in paintings. Well if you want magic, this is magic. Blobs of paint turn into a sky in a few strokes. It’s an acquired skill but not overly difficult to master. Look at the videos and practice. The vital ingredient is courage. After you spend a lot of time constructing the sky, with its highlights, mid tones and shadows, you swipe a wide brush through all this work. When it works, its magic.
At the 6 minute stage in the video, the sky wasn’t working. Overworked, hard, fussy, I could use a few other descriptive terms, but I won’t. At the 7 minute stage the sky was transformed – it just needed a little more blending, upwards. I still had the shapes to add weight, but there was also a chaotic randomness to the shapes of the clouds which worked in this tranquil landscape with its ‘human activity’. The painting took longer than usual to complete, about 3 hours.