Big Sky: #1

I wanted to do two things here: 1) Paint a huge amount of sky. 2) Try out some white pigment.

Until now I have steered clear of white pigment because I have heard it can become a crutch, and because I have heard it can counteract the highlights of the paper. I really enjoyed using it, both as a solid gouache and thinned with water. I like the way it gives an effect like oil color where the thickness of the paint and appearance of brush strokes adds another dimension to the composition.

I don’t like the way the white “fakes” light. The luminous quality that I get by leaving the paper bare is very different from the reflective quality of the white paint. I don’t think it’s something I will use all the time, but it’s definitely something I want to experiment more with.

The sky itself I wanted to give the impression of depth by making the sky very saturated at the top, and more muted at the horizon. I also wanted the clouds to be huge at the top, halving in size as they approached the horizon to provide perspective. Then, I wanted to add some tonal qualities to the shadows to give the clouds some character. Near the horizon I tried to use warmer tones, and cooler tones in the top. I thought that would make the clouds at the top seem higher in the sky, maybe as if they were colder because they are closer to outer space, whereas the distant clouds near the horizon are warmer. I think the coloring worked, but as I think about it, the clouds should be just as close to outer space as the clouds at the top, so I don’t know why that worked.

I also wanted to add shading to the clouds in such a way that the sun appeared to be in the lower third intersection on the left. Everything below that needed to be shadowed on the underside, everything above should have been shadowed on the top side. Clouds to the left of it should have shadows on the left, clouds on the right should be shadowed on the right. I think this is the right idea, but I didn’t preserve enough white paper to really make those highlights stand out. 

Finally, I wanted the land to be very simple. I wanted the clouds to be the only thing providing perspective, so I painted almost nothing on the ground. I did add a thin line of trees at the horizon which helps with scale a bit.

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