Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cloud sketch

oil on paper 21x12.5cm

I sat down by the kitchen window on Monday to sketch cloud forms as they flitted past. It’s impossible to paint a particular cloud, as they change so quickly and my memory isn’t photographic. This is just one exercise to get more acquainted with the vocabulary of clouds, so what you have here are shapes and tones painted over about an hour.

As it happens these are ragged stratocumulus late on a bright windy afternoon.

The paper has several coats of acrylic primer, with a little blue acrylic paint added. I’ve mixed up a whole batch of this, and have a few blank skies prepared already for when the sky gets extra interesting again. Although there’s no tone change in the blue background I think it’s a good system for sketching, though the initial wipe of turpentine/oil mix, for fluidity, means that the oil paint takes ages to dry. I’ve used titanium white, not my usual flake/lead white which would dry much quicker, even with the extra oil. For sheer whitening power it’s really the only choice for this type of work, especially on a coloured background. The two other colours used are Payne’s grey and ultramarine.

The blue tinting in the primer is pthalocyanine. Even in the weakened student product it is a ruinously powerful pigment, and can infect a whole palette if not carefully contained. In this case, it is safely quarantined in a base layer, in a different medium from my active paint, so hopefully nothing horrific is going to break out. In fact I think it does the job here quite well.

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