Clouds At Night Study

AllieAllie -
edited October 1 in Post Your Paintings
Hi Everyone,

I'm really not very happy with this study and I'm thinking about just chucking it. I have not painted clouds before and find that they look quite amateurish. I would really love any feedback about how to do better for next time. This painting took about 45min. (obviously not complete). To me, the clouds look wayyyy more like fire or a dragon even than they do clouds! What is strange here is that my print out picture of the clouds is a lot more orange than it appears to be here on the screen. I was following the printed version as a guide, but I can see that the original picture here the clouds are much softer in colour. I like that better and will definitely bring down the value and intensity of the painting.

Also, I did not follow the reference pic totally, but rather used it more as a guide. Would love any insights.


  • edited October 1
    Well, @Allie, despite you dissatisfaction with it, it's almost there. As in the thread about painting white objects, it's about subtlety. Just tone down the chroma a bit and make the gradations from dark to light more subtle. 

    But it doesn't look like "fire or a dragon". I knew immediately what it was - a beautifully lit cloud. 

    I would need a lot more than 45 minutes to do the photo justice. 45 minutes wouldn't have been enough to see me through the planning stage, much less the actual painting. That would have taken me 4.5 days. So, take your time. That's the only way to get the subtlety I mentioned. 

    You have an eye for beauty. Keep going.  :)
  • @tassieguy is right.  It's all about the values here, and definitely tone down the saturation.  I think the cloud needs more blue in it.  

    Take a tiny square of the photo, and match it to your painting value by value.  Make it a little meticulous.  When the one square is done, do another section of the reference photo.

    You aren't that far from it :)
  • I wood blend the heck out of it and remove the halo around the moon.  But that’s just me.  I know many here prefer not to blend as much as I do. It’s a cool photo to work from.  Kind of reminds me of the fires out west.
  • @GTO do you blend a lot?  I did not know this...  Your paintings are flawless!
  • @GTO do you blend a lot?  I did not know this...  Your paintings are flawless!
  • I love the movement in your cloud.
    Input: Where's the shadow? The darks define the form against the light. Create the muscular colossus of the form in tonal statements. You've replaced darks with colour maybe? And that's where the colours should be more muted. I agree also that colour sings best when used with lesser chroma to allow the big colours to sing. 
    I agree it's almost there.
  • You are on the right track, but I would suggest (as others have, that you are more subtle and subdued with your colours and leave the intense hue for just a few highlights.  I would lose the halo around the moon and make it more pale and ghostlike as in the photo (unless you were changing it to a cheesy moon for a particular reason of course).  I would also use similar darks of the sky for the dark areas of the clouds and that, plus the odd highlight will help them become more fluffed up and give the illusion of depth to them.
    I have often thought of doing a sky series to learn to do clouds with less effort than it normally takes me to achieve something realistic.   I labour over them sometimes and exert a lot of angst in trying to perfect them.   You seem to be heading in the right direction here, the main thing being is to analyze what you are seeing and paint it, rather than painting what you think you are seeing.
  • @allforChrist Here is my story on blending.  When I started out painting using DMP method I refrained from blending (as much as possible).  Then while painting a ceramic vase and comparing what I painted with what I saw in the shadow box I saw that the colors and values matched quite well but the edges were too hard.  Even the edges of the variations within the surface of the glossy vase.  So, I took a Chinese blender brush and holding my breath and with the lightest most delicate touch slowly, carefully, with a single stroke I drew the brush across the paint.  And magically the vase came into focus and looked like the vase in the shadow box.  
    Ever since then I at times cannot restrain myself from picking up that Chinese blender. 😀
    You can see that painting at this post link below. (Scroll down in the post for the final image)
     I’m submitting it to a show this week so we will see if it gets accepted or not.
  • Thanks for giving me your experience with that, @GTO.  I really find that interesting.

    That's an amazing painting, by the way.  Hope it gets accepted, it certainly deserves it!!
  • @tassieguy
    Thank you so very much for your kind words and words of wisdom! Your comment really gave me the push to keep working on it. It really was a flop in the end and I overworked it and then just threw it out, but I learned a lot from the failed painting and am happy that I continued to try. I SO appreciate your feedback. I'm about to post another cloud painting that I worked on today. It is definitely getting better! I think I just needed a fresh start.  <3  
  • @allforChrist
    Thank you for your insights! I so appreciate the feedback. This painting just didn't work out in the end but, I really went back to it and gave it a good try (not even worth posting!). I just completed a new one that worked out better. You know what they say, if at first you don't succeed.... ;)
  • @Abstraction
     Yes! That is exactly what I did; replace shadows with colour. I found it confusing to paint a cloud, as strange as that sounds! But, I gave it another go and think I'm starting to get the hang of it now. Thank you so much for your feedback! It was very helpful!
  • @toujours
    Thanks for the feedback!! Painting this cloud was definitely a learning experience for me! I went back to it and tried to tone it down, but ended up just making an overworked mess! LOL! I learned a lot from the failure though, and have tried a different cloud painting that I will post soon! Thank you again!
  • @GTO
    Thanks for this helpful comment! I haven't heard of a "Chinese blender brush" before and will have to google it!! You are definitely right about the blending. This painting was a bust, but I tried again with a different reference photo and spent more time blending the clouds. What a huge difference that makes! It really taught me a lot. There are definitely times when blending works better than not and when it looks better too!
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