Particulars Acrylic, 6x8 inches on watercolor sheet, limited palette.
One winter day over the jogging trail, this late-afternoon sky came together ahead of an approaching storm. Luckily I had completed the run, and whipped out my camera to capture the Horsehead Nebula rearing against a sunburst spearing up from the horizon. It was the perfect opportunity, back in the studio, to emulate the Impressionists by painting fast, as they had to do in rapidly-changing conditions.
A thin wash of cobalt fills in the left side. While it was still wet, I overlaid with full-strength white in outward strokes to portray the sunburst. Edges softened when it bled into the blue. That's rule number one with clouds: soft edges. Rule number two is confidence. If you're timid, your sky will look labored rather than spontaneous.
Likewise, a thin wash of black fills in the borders. Successive layers of the same hue provide 3D form. The light creates subdued shadows from the intense source at the horse's nose. Very little detail appears at lower right, a brooding area that contributes to the ominous mood.
Ol' Nick will admit to some Bob-Ross-style happy accidents (love 'em). One of these is the double curve of light at center left. Curved light? Why the hell not! It adds to the windy, chaotic feel. A final touch is muted orange at the bottom, a squall line bearing the earthy scent of dried leaves.
Wanna try this style? It's loads of fun. Work fast, work confident. Of course, you do need to know what you're doing. . . .
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