By now, I should be getting used to the fact that the exercises are often harder to execute than I imagine. I have been waiting weeks for the white, uniform clouds to move on and to see some variation happening in the skies above. On a positive note, I have been observing the sky more than I normally would, and noting how fast the clouds move on windy days and how they hardly seem to budge at all when calm and still.
I have ended up drawing from photographs as I couldn’t wait any longer for the weather to change.
The first one is drawn in soft pastels, which are becoming my favourite thing to use, I like things I can stick my fingers in, and move around. I tried using a brush but it didn’t really work well, I think because it is too hard.
This was a real case of layering in chunky strips of colours in blues, whites, and grays, then rubbing in softly with my fingers and then more finer, sharper layers for more details. I was thinking of Vija Celmins, thinking of how long she must spend creating her intricate works, and I’m just trying to recreate a semblance of clouds.
After I finished I sprayed it with hair spray, which has made it rather grey, which I don’t like but I think it has added some texture, which I do like. A few people had recommended using hairspray as a fixative but personally I won’t be using hairspray again.
clouds in soft pastels
I spotted a dramatic cloud photo on Facebook so I decided to attempt a version in oil pastels, which I am still learning to use. They are somewhat tricky and I used my fingers again, and the hard brush. I’m not sure about the end result if I’m being honest but here it is anyway.
clouds in oil pastel
This was not very successful. I found myself really laying the oil pastels on thick so I could manipulate them and blend them but I may have reached the point of resistance! This is often a problem for me, I need to learn when to stop and pull back. Using a wet wipe to remove some of the pigment worked somewhat but I find this overworked.
For my final cloud I chose compressed charcoal which seemed the perfect medium for an overcast day. My approach this time was rather like an underpainting with the darkest points marked in first, then adding medium grey and white for the highlight. I blended it in and ended up with this:
clouds in compressed charcoal
As soon as I saw this uploaded, I decided I wasn’t convinced it was finished so I added a layer of white slanted lines, that looked like this:
clouds in compressed charcoal version 2
I quite like this effect but it looks like rain, and it wasn’t raining. Although I think the diagonal lines add some movement, the clouds still don’t have enough weight to them.
clouds in compressed charcoal version 3
I blended in some more and am left with an amorphous tone, which lacks definition.
Finally, I worked into this some more.
final version of clouds in compressed charcoal
I don’t think I can do any more on these clouds. I’m not fully convinced by them so have decided to stop anyway. I think I have to settle for these.
From a distance some of these images seem to work well, especially the first two attempts. My conclusion is that clouds are very challenging to capture well.