Clouds are not coming out right

I loved the help I received so far. I am still having an issue with paint. It is this, the white(for clouds) not really sticking to the blue in the sky,  when I pull it to load more white the brush is full of blue, and no white is really sticking to the canvas except for the first touch of the brush. Wondering if my paints and still too thick.


  • edited November 21
    Can you give us more information? What brand paints are you using - the blues, whites, etc? Is the blue dry? How many coats? Did you use any medium or solvent?
    Oil paint should adhere to oil paint. I'm wondering if you are using a lot of medium, stand oil, linseed, liquin, etc? Too much and it can form a 'glassy' surface with no tooth. The tooth (mostly from the pigment) is like micro sandpaper that helps pull the paint off the brush (is my understanding). Any of these mediums should be used no more than 20% - others would suggest 5-10%, others none. I almost never use them as the paints in the tubes are usually at the correct pigment/binder (the oil) ratio. To glaze or scumble I just brush thin. And I don't tend to use solvents as (too much and) they can cause the pigment to be unbound by oil. I used to use both because I uncritically absorbed the practice from others and thought you were supposed to, and haven't missed either. A few exceptions I will turn to them.
  • Mark_Stevens22

    Lightly oil your brush before picking up any white. Add a touch more oil to the white, a fatter mix.

    I suspect your blue is partly setting up and is at a sticky stage. You could leave the clouds for a few days until the blue forms a skin.

  • Is it possible my liquid white is too heavy?
  • It will depend on how stiff your paint is and the stiffness of the brushes you are using.  If you use a soft brush to carefully lay in fairly fluid white paint over a thin layer of stiffer blue, then the white shouldn't mingle with the blue. As well as the stiffness of the paint and the brush, it will depend on how you are using your brush.  If you gently lay in a stroke of white over blue the colours won't mingle or be picked up by your brush. So, a fairly fluid white paint over a thin layer of stiff and lean blue. And lay in your strokes in one soft action. If you are swishing your white brush around on top of the blue, then of course the two will mix. The other thing you can do is wait until the blue has started to dry before doing the clouds. Clouds don't have to be blended if you use enough intermediate values between the darkest and lightest parts of the cloud. This also looks more painterly.
  • But... clouds are normally not that difficult to plan in advance and spare overpainting. Make outlines and paint the sky around. That would surely be difficult when doing something with complex outlines over a complex backround.
  • I don't worry about such things when painting clouds. The blue sky dome, the cloud layers are all one intermingled space. Planes. Spheres. Light. Atmosphere. It does help to have a solid vision of how you see this. It also helps to do many practice color sketches and paintings to find 'your' way. 

  • Here's a video I did on my take on clouds and skies.
    The sky is a dome overhead. The shortest distant to the dome is straight up. The darkest blue in this case. The far horizon is the longest distant. The most atmosphere. Clouds can be very complex having multiple cloud planes. I this case it's pretty simple. Cloud plane generally follow the surface of the earth. Seeming to be flat planes. I paint skies as an atmospheres. A whole lot of mixing' goin' on. This is a touch painting. No drawing no checking. Simple colors. Neutrals and their components. The sound suck.
  • @KingstonFineArt the video does not play on my phone, YT says "private" content.
  • edited November 23
    Is it possible my liquid white is too heavy?
    I doubt it the paint is too thick. Even incredibly thick oil paint like Vincent Van Gogh used will stick to the previous layer unless there is a problem.
    If you answer my questions in the first post I may be able to answer your actual question which I understand as a technical query about why the white paint won't stick to the blue. What is the brand of paint you are using? Was the underpainting dry? Did you mix the blue or white paint with something else like a medium, oil, etc?
    The next level would be to ask about the painting surface - canvas, canvas board, something else? Brand? Did you prepare it or did you buy it already prepared?
  • I think if you follow the three old rules of thumb you shouldn't have problems with colors mixing on the canvas.

    1. Light over dark

    2. Thick over thin

    3. Fat over lean

    I think your problem with the clouds probably relates to 2 and/or 3. And perhaps the stiffness of your brushes and how you are applying the paint.
  • @adridri
    Try it again. the posting may not have settled yet. It's supposed to be unlisted not private. I just checked it it show as unlisted. The sound sucks so bad I have to redo it. But I'd rather do other things.
  • Hello, answers to your questions about sky and clouds. 
    I'm using Bob Ross supplies. 
    How long do I need to let the liquid white dry for before starting to paint?, I've been putting on the right thickness, if I touch the canvas I can see my prints. Then I start to paint. 
    Canvas: 8 Oz. stretched, triple primed, cotton by Phoenix-Artist Canvas. 
    Thank you.
    I saw in the 1st video someone posted, how much thinner if any do I put on my brush to lay down the sky?
  • Any chance you could upload some photos so we could see what the problem is?
  • In this link is a discussion of Bob Ross paints, as I'm not familiar with them:
    It appears that Bob Ross paints are student grade (which is usually fine to learn with. Artist grade are the more expensive paints). These ones are apparently formulated for his style of wet on wet painting - which means that you shouldn't have to wait for the paint to dry - oil paints should stick to wet or dry paint. It sounds from your description that while it is still wet the brush is sliding across the layer beneath rather than 'catching' it. (?) If so, I would let the layer dry a little more - but you should be able to paint over the top of the blue.
    Mark_Stevens22 said:
    How long do I need to let the liquid white dry for before starting to paint?, 
    Zero time. If you are painting white over a blue sky you don't wait for the white paint on the palette to start dry, you can use the paint as soon as it's out from the tube. If it's reasonable quality you should be able to use that paint all day. If it has driers in it, it's possible it might start to thicken up after a few hours.
  • So, I have coverd my canvas with liquid white, Do I need to let it sit for a while.
  • I loved the help I received so far. I am still having an issue with paint. It is this, the white (for clouds) not really sticking to the blue in the sky,  when I pull it to load more white the brush is full of blue, and no white is really sticking to the canvas except for the first touch of the brush. .
    My understanding is that you were painting white over the blue. If you're painting Bob Ross style, 'wet on wet' the video @adridri shared is very helpful for understanding painting wet on wet, otherwise if it's dry it should work also.

  • The cloud in question. This was Wednesday, the near the bottom of my attempt, was made by me pulling my finger across still wet paint this morning. After I made this happy accident where my brush was loaded with the blue from the canvas. 
    Do I need to spread my liquid white thinner?
    Do I thin my blue out or my white, or neither?
    How much white do I load my brush with?
    This area is a little less than 1/4 of a 18x24 canvas. 

  • Do I need to let my liquid white dry for any length of time before painting over it?
  • edited November 25
    Hello @Mark_Stevens22
    These are a lot of new questions related to the same problem you seem to be having. You need to experiment about quantities. You can only learn about general rules. Watch others paint to learn how much paint and thinner they put in the brush, don't loose time reinventing the wheel. That will depend on the style you want to pursue.
  • @adridri is right. You need to experiment.  There are a few general rules, but no recipe book.  Learning happens when we get down and dirty with the brushes. 

    It might be best to finish your painting and post it here. Then we'll be in a better position to advise you.
  • edited 8:43AM
    Painting alla prima "really wet" into "really wet" needs a lot of skill. If your white is really "liquid" then of course it will be hard. Get a stiffer white to mix with blue for the sky layer. For example, Winton won't be liquid and is cheap and good quality. With the sky layer more stable you could try to use softer white for clouds. Either the brush must be soft or load more paint and touch lighter as to not disturb the blue. That all is said above, I am just reiterating. Soft over stiffer . Stiff over stiff may also work. But soft over soft is hard because you need fine control.

    But again, why suffer if you could spare white areas just like when doing watercolor.
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