View Full Version : Painting Clouds in Pastel

07-09-2008, 07:08 AM
In the interest of several people, a suggestion of the creation of a cloud thread was mentioned, so here we go. ...
Anyone interested in painting clouds, doing cloud studies, learning about clouds,atmosphere,etc...please join in, and post your stuff!!!
Soft Pastels, PanPastel, Pastel Pencil, all welcome!

Here is one place you can learn a lot about clouds:
www.cloudappreciationsociety.org/tressa-hommel (http://www.cloudappreciationsociety.org/tressa-hommel)
I was invited to show my "Waynesville, NC" painting on here. You can submit your clouds to their gallery...

One of the keys to painting clouds is volume, and I acheive this by multi layers. Don't be afraid you are going to ruin that perfect mark you put down, by adding more; my clouds have tons of layers, although in the case of the PanPastels, some are very sheer.
Here are a few of my clouds to get started...

07-09-2008, 09:25 AM
Here are two quick demos using the same four colors on a different surface. The first is Richeson Black sanded paper...
These are the four colors, normally I use a lot of different colors, but kept a limited palette for this. Is a dark #17Unison Blue, a Great American Blue/Grey, Great American Light Blue, and Mt Vision Very Pale Blue

I started out by toning the paper with the blue...

Then I added the dark and mid value blues, also the high cirrus clouds...

Now I have blended the midtones, and added more of the light blue...

Here I have continued blending the clouds and softening edges, while adding my lightest value, a very pale blue...

And here is the finish...

07-09-2008, 09:27 AM
Second is on a neutral suede...same four colors...

Here I toned the paper again and added the darks and midtones, and a bit of the light...difference in this surface, is no finger blending, is all done by burnishing the sticks lightly over each color...
Then I gently move the sticks in the direction I want to blend, add the lightest value, and the cirrus clouds at the bottom this time, creating a different perspective of distance...

Here is finish...

07-09-2008, 01:15 PM
:wave: Hi, Tressa,

Nice demo!
I like the lightness and yet you can get the dark feeling of possible storms!
Here on the Wisconsin priairie land, I love watching the sky.

07-09-2008, 03:33 PM
Thank you Elsie, and get those new Pans out and show us some of those lovely Wisconsin skies!! They do clouds beautifully!!!

07-09-2008, 03:56 PM
Thanks for the demo Tressa. I especially love the ones you did over Baltimore. I love clouds too. So infinitely interesting.


07-09-2008, 03:59 PM
Thank you Helen, and you guys get some really cool skies down the Ocean, so jump in and try one!!!

07-09-2008, 04:14 PM
Here is a pic of the area... try it out ....off Kent Island

07-09-2008, 05:28 PM
Tressa, This is great. Thank You for sharing with us!! I love your clouds and can hardly wait until I have time to try out your instructions.


07-09-2008, 05:35 PM
oh yea! binkie, jump right in when you have time! and thank you!

07-09-2008, 08:02 PM
Hi Tressa,

In my opinion, the main problems that beginners have when painting clouds are :

They never observed the clouds in the real sense, especially with artists' eyes.

They are affraid of being bold (unless we're talking photorealism, the work of an artist is to create a scene that will provoque feelings).

They continue to paint what they think they know, as if clouds were not influenced by many aspects such as light and wind.

So, my advice is : go outside and see the observe the clouds.


07-09-2008, 08:23 PM
Yea! Thank you Tressa, I'll be adding some here right shortly. I have to say first I love your clouds and the demo's are great I have not photographed a demo and will have to do that.

07-09-2008, 08:27 PM
Ok here is the first one.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Jul-2008/125922-Distant_Storm_Pastel.jpg Titled "Distant Storm"
I did two versions, this is the first

07-09-2008, 08:34 PM
Hi Jose!!!:wave:
I totally, completely agree, study long and hard the classroom that surrounds us 24/7....I learned from Albert Handell to go out sometimes,and no painting, just sit and study elements I wanted to learn more about;clouds, running water, still water, leaves;in wind, hanging with no breeze,and so on...I have a lovely huge front porch that I spend a lot of time on, thinking, and observing just in my most immediate area, and as it faces South, I get sunrises in the morning, and sunsets in the evening, sitting in the same spot! I am constantly doing this even on the go...

Scott...thanks and I look forward to your postings!!!!

07-09-2008, 08:35 PM
Ok here are a couple of other one's I have shown here before but this is about clouds and sky so I will add them. the last one is distant storm II.

07-09-2008, 08:37 PM
Scott, we must have double posted...
oooh..this is so cool. I love the colors, and the lightning just pours energy!!
Great reflections,

07-09-2008, 08:41 PM
I recognize the first two from your banner, and this third one is yummy also!!!
Wow! a great way to really push color!!!

07-09-2008, 08:55 PM
This is going to be a great thread.....I love to watch the clouds...but feel pretty awkward when I go to paint them. I hope to learn alot by studying how you guys do it.:thumbsup:

07-09-2008, 09:26 PM
Cynthia, you can learn a lot by doing them also, so come and try it out!

07-09-2008, 10:23 PM
Thanks Tressa, :) I hope that the others will join in too :D , Comment, or give it a go and show :clap: & Maybe some one like Dianna or deborah :wave: .
Yes Cindy grab them pastels, CP's and give it a go I have no doubt that you will do them justice.

07-09-2008, 11:29 PM
OK, I'ma joining this thing you've got going, I am TOTALLY intimidated when it comes to clouds.

As an aside, my sister,(also a pastelist) has been taking cloud pictures for several years, and presented me with a notebook of about 100 different clouds, that she suggest we adopt in pictures that need them.... So I will try...

Thanks for getting this started Tressa, and Scotty thanks for all the inspiration you have provided in your posts... Here I go....


07-09-2008, 11:42 PM
Carol here is one for you:thumbsup: . with a touch of a little artist lic :D .http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/09-Jul-2008/125922-Pastels_013.jpg I am not quite done yet.

07-10-2008, 02:17 AM
Tressa, I love that website, what a great idea!:thumbsup:


Thats my picture! I love it!!!!!!!!!:clap:
I'm doing it next!

Here is my first feeble attempt. I just spent an hour on this, on 4.5x6" Wallis. I plan on not saving any of these. I will reuse this same sheet for all the studies. I just need to get comfortable. Not happy with my efforts with this, I will work some more on this one... but as I said I just jumped in to get my feet wet. I plan on doing lots of these, so I hope I don't overburden t his thread. The first is the ref, then my attempt, then Scottys ref. I hope they attach.

07-10-2008, 03:47 AM
I'm joining in too. I love to look at all your clouds and I can learn so much.

Funnily I've taken many photos of clouds during the last weeks and now I know for what!

07-10-2008, 05:02 AM
Here is one I've posted before. It's a Florida sky at dusk. I painted this last winter on Siesta Key beach in Sarasota. I just had to after I saw that sky.



07-10-2008, 06:57 AM
Luscious red sky Scott, colors are similar to the demo of Louise Frechette.

Carol, a great beginning for this thread! I love the almost abstract feel in this one.
For more realism, don't be afraid to blend layers; and on horizontals, to soften and merge line, I use a gentle up and down motion across the edge.
And that is the idea, post as many as you want!!!:thumbsup:

Pastel love , do join in, and let us see some of those clouds!!!

Helen, I remember this one, a very lush tropical sky...Florida has some beautiful and energetic skies. I always used to get a kick out of the sun shining on me, and across the way, I could see a storm with rain falling.

07-10-2008, 08:43 AM
Carol Just a note I used three colors in that study that was it. A mid gray a dark blue and a pink. will add a couple of other colors just to spice it up a little.
Pastel love looking forward to seeing them.
Helen very nice painting love the clouds, I used to live in Sarasota from 1976 to 1984 just off of tamiami trail or us41 spent lots of time on siesta key, longboat key. Watched many sunsets and storms roll in and out.
Thanks Tressa, not sure I have seen that demo.

07-10-2008, 08:52 AM
Scott, She is in the PJ newsletter, along with Deborah's sky demo(which btw, is wonderful for those of you who have not seen it:) )...she (Louise)does a red sky and wave.

07-10-2008, 12:58 PM
These are wonderful Tressa. I love clouds and to paint them but i am hesitant to keep adding to them. Thank you for doing a demo of them. i will work on practicing more and being less afraid! = )

Scotty love your clouds too. what colors!!! what paper and pastels do you use?

07-10-2008, 01:02 PM
Carol, oh yes, you need to let that fear and hesitation go! Experiment! I like to play the what if game sometimes...what if I do this, what if I do that; change my direction, color, temp,blend, don't blend, underpaint, let it run, keep it in control, ...and so on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, but you always learn something!

Come on Scott! Ya gonna have to add a demo!:thumbsup:

07-10-2008, 02:58 PM
Tressa, you're a gem! I just discovered this thread, and I believe I was one of those mentioning wanting to do clouds. I'll join in, but not immediately, the next few days are packed with non-artistic stuff, like attending a wedding between two young people I've only ever said "howdy" to (Hubby knows the groom).

07-10-2008, 03:01 PM
Have fun at the wedding Charlie! We will be here!!!

07-10-2008, 03:05 PM
For those of you who want to try a blue sky, here is a pic of Provence, This is Gordes and the air is so clear, even though I was very far away, you can still see detail..

07-10-2008, 03:07 PM
Wander full its what artists need to do, show how they work.

Lisa Fiore
07-10-2008, 04:10 PM
Tressa your clouds are beautiful! Clouds and ocean waves are the 2 things I'm most terrified to paint. :o I just spent several days at the beach and took a lot of gorgeous sunrise photos, but to paint these?? I don't even know where to begin! Thanks for this thread and your demonstrations--I plan to try a few and hide or destroy the results!!

07-10-2008, 04:58 PM
xssif...fell free to join in and paint some clouds!

Elizabeth, thank you, and one of the best ways to learn is to try, and then ask for feedback on how to improve. Everyone in this forum are happy to help you on your artistic journey!!!

Lisa Fiore
07-10-2008, 05:25 PM
Thank you, Tressa. You're right, of course!! I agree that all of the people on here are very nice and super talented--I've already learned so much from you all!!

07-10-2008, 09:14 PM
Carolann color depends on mood for the most part along with a photo ref. and the paper is mostly Canson Mi or Fabriano Ingres and the pastels are undercoast with Nupastels and then Schmincke to finish.
Tressa I will try to remember on the next one to take photos as I go.

07-10-2008, 09:20 PM
Tressa what a great photo and you are right, it is so clear. I will be updating the last one I posted here shortly but I have a little tweeking still to do on it, then I'll start the demo one. :)

07-10-2008, 09:36 PM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/10-Jul-2008/125922-Pastels_017.jpg Ok Carol here is the update I finished,
Tressa it's on to the demo while it is still fresh in my mind.

07-10-2008, 09:39 PM
I submitted a pastel called a day at the beach a year or so ago and a few people asked me how I did the sky and clouds ,this is my technique for a sunny blue sky where its not necessarily the subject but forms a pleasant back drop:-


I'll tell you my method ,simplified of course,:-

1. Pick a pastel of the darkest shade and hue of blue you wish to have in the O/Head sky. (say - Ultramarine or cobalt)

2. using it on its side " wash " in the upper sky for about 1/3 of the total sky height .

3. Pick a pastel of the ligtest Blue/Grey you want in the distant sky and
"wash in the bottom 1/3 - i.e the horizon upwards. (any pale blue or bluish grey)

4. using a cerulean blue "wash" in the central portion.

5. Blend all three colours to form the equivalent of a graduated wash in w/colour.

6 . outline the upper shapes of the clouds in white and then gradually
blend in pale grey making the strokes more horizontal at the base of each cloud.

7. reduce the size and the spacing between the clouds as you progress down the sky to the horizon.

With practise this can all be achieved in about 15 minutes or so
depending on the size of the work.
This is my way,It may be wrong but I,m self taught so I dont do wrong!

Its not great drama but it gets people over that cant do skies moment.


07-10-2008, 10:02 PM
Good statement Wilt would love to see it, or even other coluds you have done.

07-10-2008, 10:50 PM
I dont know how to post the link to the thread perhaps a moderator can direct you to it.

Kathryn Wilson
07-10-2008, 11:04 PM
Tressa, I promised to show a few of my clouds - these two painting are currently at a show in North Carolina.



07-10-2008, 11:15 PM
Oh my Kathryn what a great show of color, really love the sky in the first one & the ocean in the 2nd one and that touch of peach in the clouds. Impressive

07-11-2008, 07:01 AM
OMG Kat! These are delicious! I am so glad you posted these, and can see why they are in a show!! The subtle hint of life(gull, figure and bldgs) just make them perfect!!! Absolutely beautiful!!!

07-11-2008, 08:40 AM
ok here is my demo the first one is just laying in some basic color and shapeshttp://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jul-2008/125922-Pastels_demo_001.jpg

this one I began to blend in the color

now I have things blended and am adding more color and shape adding form to the clouds just about done stillhave some things to work on will post the finished peice later.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/11-Jul-2008/125922-Pastels_demo_003.jpg
this was done on Ingres paper, undercoat with Nupastels then Schmincke, oh yea the tree line was done with terry ludwig dark greens

07-11-2008, 09:04 AM
This is great Scott! Thanks..Love the colors , and it is always great for newbies and experienced artists to see how other people approach a subject!
Looking forward to the final!

Also, for me, I highly prefer the sanded surfaces because I do use so many layers, and I like the feel and texture. I can explore without worrying about building up too much pastel too quickly.
Can you post your feelings on your choice of Ingres and other non sanded paper, as I am sure this is good info to be added to the thread.

07-11-2008, 09:26 AM
Ok Tressa here goes: Well I like the Fabriano Ingres because of the texture but it is the same on both side kinda like the Canson Mi's ruff side the two are very similuar to me in that respect. I have the Fabriano Trasiano also which has a softer texture to it ( not as ruff) I bought several large sheet just to check them out then cut some of them into smaller sheets to study with, I like all three alot. I like the Canson Mi because it has both a ruff (textured) side and a smooth side, I like the smooth side for a very soft look to the painting. I do use the sanded Colorfix and like it to but is hard on my finger because I blend alot and don't really like how things blend with other tools, I also make my own sanded paper with the colorfix primer sometime with a brush and other times with a roller gives me a different textured look. I use only the white and black because I can add Acyrlic colors to the white to get a lighter version of that color. Have yet to try the wallis thought I have heard it is the best, but the cost is pricey and I don't just want to by one sheet.

07-11-2008, 02:12 PM

07-11-2008, 02:16 PM
Wow, Wilt.
it's lovely.

07-11-2008, 02:21 PM
Thanks ,
and its simple to do as per my previous post :- just substitute Naples yellow or similar and say a light green for the lower & middle sky colours,
blend and add the fluffy stuff on top. easy, peasy.


07-11-2008, 02:55 PM
It's lovely Wilt...and clouds are a lot of fun to play with!

For those who are a little intimidated by the sky, try some of these techniques; you can always brush it off:cool:
Try picking out the colors and values before you start a cloud study, and this will keep you from being unsure what to do once you start. Try to commit yourself to these few sticks, and just start blocking in color, and blend edges and the undersides of cloud, and then put some lights on edges, softening some, and leaveing some with a bit of a harder edge.... you can even lightly sketch your shape in with charcoal, if you need a template guide...

07-11-2008, 09:28 PM
Wilt what a beautiful sky, love the color and the depth. Really nice work. Also a great easy way for us to get started making them clouds.

Tressa well said. Thanks lots.

07-14-2008, 10:38 PM
here is the finished peice I lightened it so you could better see the trees.http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/14-Jul-2008/125922-New_landscape_005.jpgnot sure what happened here so will reupload it.

07-14-2008, 10:44 PM
Ok here is another one with mountians. Having a problem with the image uploader again. but can still use the other :D .

07-15-2008, 12:06 AM
:wave: I love this thread, and today I finished my newest cloud attempt. Its where I live, and its from a group of photo's I took this spring. The smoke from all the Calif. Fires have filled our valley daily as we get mostly a westen wind in the summer, so everything was hazy and hot---I used my reference materials instead. So here goes:

07-15-2008, 06:43 AM
These are both really good Scott, the last one, I wonder if it would be better compositionally to stop the large cloud on one side and not take all the way off the plane;leads one off, and stops from moving upward. The cloud itself is very well done, and the first, love the light rays in b/g.

Imaybe, this is lovely, you have done a fantastic job on the under shadows, it looks like I could look up forever! Beautiful sky.
And I read your post on blue skies ; take a look at the photo back in the thread of Provence. Now that is a blue sky! The air is pure clear, and bright. I was quite a distance from the villiage up on a cliff, and the valley in the great distance is very visible!!

07-15-2008, 08:31 AM
What a great sky Imaybe love it and the landscape is beautiful, nice use of colors.
Tressa I thought of that but left it because it is a front moving in and they just strech forever.

07-15-2008, 02:19 PM
Oh this is a cool thread. I just happened across it - but I *love* clouds and yearn to be able to do them well. I'm so in awe of all the clouds posted here. They are just fabulous.

07-15-2008, 06:04 PM

The first one is super, the second one I agree that I would like to have broken that continouous line across the painting .Sometimes you have to defy nature for the sake of the painting, as Mr Ross always says "this is your world" when refering to the canvas .Still both great skies.


Cracking Clouds-- it would be hard to bother with any subject below that sky.


07-16-2008, 09:47 PM
Thanks wilt, I will see about doing something to hold the viewer in the painting with out altering the cloud bank. That front streched on as far as the eye could see, and that was the purpose of the study was to run the clouds from one side to the other. but I guess I forgot to do someting to hold the viewer in so I will work on that and repost it when i figure out what I want that to be :)

Mario V
07-17-2008, 04:32 AM
This is a piece I did for July challenge. I did the sky trying to follow pointers I got from this thread. Thanks everyone !!!!
Would appreciate some C&C on the clouds. Thanks :D


07-17-2008, 06:34 AM
Great job on the clouds Mario. The large bands of cloud look real good, and your light is nicely done. Be careful with small additional clouds as they do not look too off by themselves and not connected to the whole. Although this does happen in nature, sometimes is not good for a painting. Sometimes it helps just to soften the bottom edge of some, just to let them mix into the rest. Overall very nice sky!

07-17-2008, 09:36 AM
This painting is already framed but I wonder what I could have done to improve the clouds. I never was completely happy with them.

07-17-2008, 02:12 PM
A lovely painting Tammy; my suggestions for future, is to pull the cloud on behind the tree more. This one on the right large tree seems to butt up against the edge a bit, creating a tangent, and makes the cloud seem to be "centered". Also, looking up at clouds,creates a shadow underneath, and you could develp that more..overall very nice indeed.

07-17-2008, 09:00 PM
Really Mario, I really like the mutipal colors in them.
Nice one Tammy, I like how you set up the door I want to open it and see what is there , I also agree with Tressa about the clouds.

07-18-2008, 12:37 PM
Then again theres always vapour trails !


07-18-2008, 12:41 PM
Wilt, what a dramatic sunset sky.

07-18-2008, 01:32 PM
oh, yea, this is lovely Wilt! What drama, and I love drama:D

07-18-2008, 08:09 PM
All of your work is so inspiring!

Here is my sky. 9 x 12" on Colourfix Supertooth


The usual disclaimer: it looks better in real life, not so dull.

Thanks for looking! And thanks for starting thsi great thread Tressa!


07-19-2008, 07:59 AM
Wow Terri, this is gorgous! The way you have pulled the long "front" cloud thru the painitng, and the closer one at the top, and the distance in the sunset...peachy!!!

07-22-2008, 08:50 AM
Incrediable Wilt very nice.

Very nice Terri I love the sutleness of this.

07-22-2008, 08:51 AM
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/22-Jul-2008/125922-Pastels_001.jpg The latest one and I am about done with these studys of Clouds going to move on to trees soon.

07-22-2008, 09:03 AM
Here is my sky. 9 x 12" on Colourfix Supertooth ... The usual disclaimer: it looks better in real life, not so dull.
Terri, this is G-R-E-A-T. I am so there! If this is "dull", I'd love to see the original!

(Do you have a website where I can see bigger versions of your work?)


07-22-2008, 11:08 AM
this is a fabulous thread....I love clouds- esp. the redish sunsets and stormy ones...super job on this...

07-22-2008, 04:13 PM
I posted an earlier, smaller version of this ocean sunrise on the pastel gallery. I decided to push the colors in this one. It was done on Wallis Pro paper with Pan Pastels, Unisons and Terry Ludwigs. Those deep, rich blues were Ludwigs. I'm putting it in a show this weekend, so C&C's are welcome.


07-22-2008, 04:25 PM
Another nice study Scott..maybe we will have to do a tree thread!

Helen, this is a nice sunset, like the water and the colors of the sky. Not sure if is my monitor, but the sand reads a little off, I would either darken or warm it up, but if is not irl, feel free to ignore:)

07-22-2008, 04:37 PM
This actually is a sunrise, not a sunset. Think Atlantic Ocean where the sun rises, although they are probably similar in many ways. Tressa: The sand in the original is actually darker than it shows here. I think I lightened the image for the computer because they always seem so dark when I upload them. Thanks for the comments.

07-22-2008, 08:04 PM
well, duh...I have egg on my face!:D Yes it would be sunrise for you!
I thought it might be the monitor, that's why I said ignore me, if so..

07-22-2008, 08:07 PM
Can I post mine again? :o
I made a few minor tweaks and hopefully this one shows the color more accurately.


Thank you Tressa and Scotty! Scotty I'm looking forward to seeing your trees. I think it would be fun to have a tree thread too.

Thank you Jan! No, I don't have a website - hopefully someday.

Helen, lovely sunrise. I like the deep blue you've used in the sky.


07-23-2008, 07:18 AM
Still looks lovely Terri!

07-23-2008, 10:51 AM
Tressa - the is a wonderful thread, showing so many styles and a most delightful subject. Here is a larger version of the first painting in my signature. It will be hanging in the Angel Gallery here in Coeur d'Alene in September. Carb Othellos, Nupastels and a few softies on 9x12 Wallis.


07-23-2008, 10:56 AM
This is a very helpful post, thank you!:thumbsup: :clap: :)

07-23-2008, 04:50 PM
Oh Harriet! I'm glad you got my message to post your painting here! As I said in your gallery thread, this is a lovely sky, and painting overall!

Mike, glad you are enjoying the thread,join in and post some clouds!
I had posted this before the site overhaul, but it got lost in the transition..here is another cloud study, done with either GA's or Terry's, sorry, can't remember... on matboard coated with primer... Tres

This one is all Terry's pastels..

07-23-2008, 07:35 PM
Ooo Harriet, just gorgeous! I love the bright blue/purple that's in the dark buildings.

Tressa you are still the master of skies! Awesome. There's such beautiful light in your clouds.


07-23-2008, 08:08 PM
Simply Awesome Harriett, love the reflections, colors, the sky is fabulious.

07-24-2008, 05:34 PM
Very, very newbie here from New Mexico. I'm just outside Albuquerque, and I went to the Pastel Society Show last year just to see what is actually possible with this medium. OMG! My favorites were the photo realistic ones.

Anyway, could someone please tell me which colors of blue are used in skies?
Our NM skies are such a deep medium blue. I just don't have a clue.
Thanks! Sue

07-24-2008, 06:53 PM
Hi Sue, Deborah could tell you exactly as she lives in your area, and hopefully some others will chime in, but I recall her saying something about her blues and getting the NM skies dark and bright! I will say cobalts, deep ultramarines and turquoise with some mid values and lights of these for blue skies...that's my 2 cents...
Oh! And welcome to the Pastel Forum:wave:

07-24-2008, 07:05 PM
Thank you so much for the help and the welcome. That gives me a place to start.

07-24-2008, 07:26 PM
I had this piece in the other pastel section and "Idahohat" recommended that I add my "Into the Sunset" to this thread." It's a pastel on Canson paper, image size about 12 by 16 inches. Yes, I know there is an unfortunate repetition in the cloud shapes. Unfortunately the painting sold before I noticed it. However, had I been sharp, I could have said that the clouds represented the hand of God about to lift me gently to eternity. The upper left cloud could be a thumb and the repetative shapes fingers. The allegory actually fits the title which is my haiku which inspired the painting:

The sunset beckons
I fly the valley of clouds
Tracking the beacon home

07-24-2008, 08:07 PM
Thanks for posting it Hal, and it is a lovely painting! I looked at it in the Gallery! Hey, sometimes we don't catch everything, and it finds a new home, and we have to let it go, but you saw, and remembered..:)
The clouds are beautiful, and I bet you saw some magnificent ones from way up there!

07-24-2008, 08:22 PM
Thanks for posting it Hal, and it is a lovely painting! I looked at it in the Gallery! Hey, sometimes we don't catch everything, and it finds a new home, and we have to let it go, but you saw, and remembered..:)
The clouds are beautiful, and I bet you saw some magnificent ones from way up there!

I was one of my favorite things about flying.

07-25-2008, 06:19 PM
Hi :wave:

Hope I'm not last...

On the 24th of June, I shot a pic of these dramatic clouds out in the archipelago.

size 12x16" (30x40cm)
Colourfix natural white

This time I tried to be really careful with values (after sorting my pastels!), so I simplified the scene and blocked in the masses. This pic is when two layers of pastel are in place. The darks that are a value lighter than the landmass show up too pale.


Working on into the night, so the photo is poor, somehow the purples got lost and I couldn't find them in PS. Will try a daylight photo tomorrow.


The working name of this is "Dramaclouds", as those dark fingers of clouds reach out for you to grab you and drench you!

C&C always welcome!


07-25-2008, 08:14 PM
It beautiful Charlie! Glad you took a photo of the mass shapes!

07-26-2008, 11:50 AM
Thanks, Tressa. We were about to have a meal at an outdoor cafe when this cloud approached.... Meal was delayed an hour and half.

07-26-2008, 12:11 PM
HelenH - I love the drama in your Sunrise. Gorgeous colors.
Tressa - Thanks for the kind words. Your clouds are so inspiring. Last night we took a walk by the Riverstone pond and watched the sunset and I could kick myself for not having my camera! I've got to start carrying it always.
Again, I love this thread.

Terri and Scotty - Thanks. I love the blues and purples in silhouettes.

Hal - So glad you posted. The clouds you would see in flying would definitely inspire me to paint. And I love the haiku with it as well.

Charlie - Watching your work evolve and expand is one of my favorite things in the Soft Pastel Forums.
Blessings to all of you,

07-26-2008, 03:31 PM
Oh dear, the cybermonster just ate my comments to you guys! Nowhere to be seen. Sigh! OK, once again, in small bits. This is for you on page 5 of this thread.

Scott, this looks familiar, and there's no cloud in it! But that lovely branch that is so expressive!

Terri, it is wonderful! The sombre colours really makes the sun *shine*!

Wilt, very dramatic sunset colours, mirrored in the water. Good job!

Mario, lovely colours! I especially like how you intensified them around the sun.

Tammy, lovely and soft painting.


07-26-2008, 05:08 PM
Here is my contribution to this thread on CLOUDS. . .. (we artists would be lost without them!)
I love the mountains when they are partially hidden by the clouds. Luckily a little drive in almost any direction and I have mountains. . . and this being Seattle. . . CLOUDS, always!

07-26-2008, 06:30 PM
A simple but very beautiful painting... I love how you kept the edginess of the mts without overcomplicating them.You do have a nice choice of clouds in the NW:D ...I use to hail from Portland.

Deborah Secor
07-26-2008, 07:25 PM
Here are some of mine, too...






Deborah Secor
07-26-2008, 07:36 PM
Very, very newbie here from New Mexico. I'm just outside Albuquerque, and I went to the Pastel Society Show last year just to see what is actually possible with this medium. OMG! My favorites were the photo realistic ones.

Anyway, could someone please tell me which colors of blue are used in skies?
Our NM skies are such a deep medium blue. I just don't have a clue.
Thanks! Sue

Hi Sue--I live on the west side of Albuquerque. I can't tell you the exact color names, but if you go down to Artisan and look at the tower with the Schmincke pastels in it, you'll find a wonderful selection of blues.

I layer cobalt with turquoise in the same value. Don't let 'em get too dark and gloomy. Bright skies can look a bit dark, but they're really not. Use a red filter to prove it to yourself. Sometime soon I'll have a video demo that you can get at www.artistsnetwork.tv. The painting I did is this one, so I show how to do the sky colors!


Have fun!


07-26-2008, 08:22 PM
Ooh Deborah, these are all wonderful additions to this thread!!
I'm glad you caught Sue's question re NM skies...I told her hopefully you would pop in later!!:clap:

07-28-2008, 01:38 AM
ArtSavesLives - Soooo lovely. We see a lot of clouds below mountains, around them, in between them and hiding them here in Coeur d'Alene as well. You've really captured a soft quiet feeling there.

Deborah - Each one unique, just like skies are. Love all of 'em.

07-28-2008, 08:32 AM
Well I guess i know what Charlie is feeling as I know i posted in here so I will repost .
Very nice Charlie I like the colors and how it streches out

Nice ArtSavesLives I think its going to snow again.

Wow Deborah These are great, love the 2nd one and that awesome blue sky

07-29-2008, 06:59 PM
Has anyone seen this? A cloud demo by Marc Hanson on the Pastel Journel website.


Very nice demo.


07-30-2008, 07:34 AM
Really good demo, I like Marc Hanson's work!

Thanks for posting it Terri

07-30-2008, 02:40 PM
I LOVE to do clouds, with PanPs I knock them out in mins, a few more strokes with sticks or not, and thier done. I almost feel guilty when people comment on how they look ;)

07-30-2008, 02:45 PM
LOL, Same here Richard :lol: :evil:

07-31-2008, 10:38 AM
I just found this thread and i love clouds! here are a couple of mine..


07-31-2008, 10:52 AM
those are wonderful Joni.

07-31-2008, 10:58 AM
Thanks! :)

07-31-2008, 11:39 AM
Delightful paintings. I like your dark foregrounds, making the viewer look into your paintings. Beautiful.

07-31-2008, 01:59 PM
Ooooh! Fabulous clouds Joni, and that lighthouse is wonderful! Such crisp whites, and edges!!

07-31-2008, 02:58 PM
hey tressa who would have thought this would have been this popular

07-31-2008, 03:57 PM
lol, Scott, I was hoping peeps would like these, both clouds and water seem to create angst in a lot of atists!

08-01-2008, 06:18 PM
Wow, this is a great thread!

I've just recently bought Maggie Price's book and it has a great sky/cloud demo, but I haven't had the time or nerve to try it yet. I do horses mostly and am comfortable with my pastels in that venue, and I have learned how to do pastels by myself, but I really want to get into landscapes. I just need the nerve or the kick in the rear to get on with it.

I really wish I was in an area of the state/country to go to a workshop. While Deborah Secor lives in my state, I don't live very close to where she has her workshops.

Are there workshops on video that would give me step by step on doing landscapes?


08-01-2008, 07:02 PM
when in doubt ... try youtube... heres a jumping in link


08-01-2008, 07:40 PM
Your clouds are just beautiful.

08-01-2008, 08:09 PM
Oh thank you, Richard!

I never thought to look there! This is great!:clap:


08-02-2008, 10:37 AM

This is my first cloud pastel painting, any comments to help me improve would be appreciated. Based on a photo I took looking through my kitchen window.



08-02-2008, 02:27 PM
Your clouds are just beautiful.

Thank you Julia.:)

08-02-2008, 02:38 PM
Pam, really good first clouds!
One tip is I don't blend a lot with my fingers after the initial base is put down, That is the most I blend... after laying in the mass, the next layer I place I will gently soften one edge pulling the two layers together gently, and the other edge, some softening by gently"tapping" ,no rubbing ,the edge and volume of the cloud. I also blend using the stick instead of fingers. I let the color of my sky blend in with the first layer creating a new "color" of the cloud with undertones of the sky.
Rarely do I use grey, for storms, I'll use dark purples, blues/and blue/greys, but hardly every the warm greys, which have a charcoal look, as opposed to the cool greys which will lean toward purple or blue.
Just keep practicing and don't be afraid to play!

08-02-2008, 03:22 PM

Thanks for your comments and your tips. The colours I used were purple grey and blue grey but i think because they were darker shades of those colours and the fact I had blended them together too much I ended up with grey blobs! Never mind, this a good excuse to go back and play again.


08-02-2008, 03:46 PM
lol, I've had that happen before:lol:

08-02-2008, 03:52 PM

Hi - nice clouds and skies - here's a recent one of mine :)

I love skies and water and reflections :)

08-02-2008, 06:44 PM
Hi Vivien! Such a serene painting, and the monochromes work to achieve that. It looks like a rain shower in the distance.

08-02-2008, 06:46 PM
Ooh! Pam, one other thing, when painting clouds, watch for funny shapes in the patterns, cuz even tho they may happen nature, most find them distracting in a painting. (that's a tip, not to say your is:) )

Deborah Secor
08-13-2008, 09:28 AM

Just thought I'd add this wonderful step-by-step demo on how to paint clouds by Marc Hanson on the Pastel Journal website. Love his light touch and the buildup of color he uses.

It simply seemed like it should be included on this thread for people looking for how-to in the future.


10-24-2008, 10:08 AM
doing some clouds

10-24-2008, 12:22 PM
Beautiful, but still something I don't understand, especially since I'm a beginner. Everyone keeps warning me not to blend the colors with my finger, and I understand why -- it dulls the color. But in your first demo, I would swear that some of the color mixes are blended so well that you have to be using your fingers. Am I wrong, and if so, how are you blending?

10-24-2008, 08:12 PM
Phil, your question suggested something I'm going to try the next time I do clouds. I got good success finger blending the rough masses and then going over them blending with the sticks last time. But especially on a larger painting, your question just sparked my mind.

I bought a set of Pastel Tools from Blick a couple of years ago, it has two Colour Shapers that I use constantly, a short bristly round blunt pony hair brush for scrubbing out mistakes that I don't use as often and a nice big fan brush I haven't used at all.

It occurs to me that using the fan brush to blend a soft area might be less drastic than finger blending, so I'm going to try it the next time I do clouds on a big piece.

There was something in another thread or in one of my books about blending a soft edge with a Colour Shaper too -- by taking short 45 degree angle strokes with the flat Colour Shaper working down and to the left from one area to the next (it was a vertical pair of colors to mix) and then following that with an upper left toward lower right stroke. Very short angled strokes alternating direction all the way down mixed the two colors pretty well.

10-24-2008, 09:58 PM
Phil, I do some blending in the first stages, but then as I add more layers, the less I blend, and it is also a matter of sharp and soft edges. when I add a color, I will blend only one edge, and I don't actually blend per se as more of a tapping motion.

10-28-2008, 12:40 PM
Hi, what a great thread! I live in New Hampshire where we had such stormy humid weather this summer. The building clouds were so beautiful for weeks at a time, that my breath was taken away. I brought my camera with me in the car and took so many pictures. I'm actually surprised that I am alive, given that my focus was more on the sky than the road. Realizing that, I took to walking instead. The only problem with living in this area is that our beautiful hills are always in the way! I miss the west with it's huge open sky. Guess I'll have to plan a trip this summer.
As you can probably tell, I am fascinated by clouds and am happy to see that I am not alone. This summer I went through a phase of wanting to focus just on clouds, without any land, but feared that no one else would appreciate it. Then I relied on the fact that art should also be about the process, not just in making sales (although more of that would be nice!). I did a few, but the school year started so I am back to teaching without time to paint :(
Here are some of my past cloud paintings:





10-28-2008, 11:48 PM
Oh my Dancinlucy, I love them all what beautiful clouds, just wonderful

10-29-2008, 03:00 AM
Each of those is so striking in its own way, Dancinlucy. The colorful one at the last and the very first one are my favorites, but by a pretty narrow margin. You have me itching to do clouds again!