In this blog post I will discuss the techniques that I use to paint the shy and water in the painting “Thoughtful Spot”.
First let me point out that I use Golden Fluid Acrylics exclusively and LOVE them. They are the best on the market as fare as I am concerned. They are a creamy consistency that has all of the pigment as a heavy bodied Acrylic. This allows you to thin them with water in order to get the type of detail that I like to get in a painting, and still keep the coverage and bonding ability. Fluid Acrylics are a must for anyone painting detail!
One thing that I have learned after doing it several times and then being disappointed is, you do not need to put a lot of detail into the background of a painting that will eventually be covered up with detail in the foreground. Even though I have learned this, I am still guilty of putting too much detail into part of the painting that will gust be covered up later on in the painting process.
In this case the sky in “Thoughtful Spot” will be covered up for the most part with the tree limbs, branches and leaves. Because of this, it is not necessary to put a lot of clouds in the sky. This particular sky is a very, very pale blue, as is in the photograph. Most skies are lighter at the horizon and deeper as you get to the top of the painting. If you work from a photograph as I do you can easily see this. With this painting being only 12” x 24” the shy is not all that large, however when your are painting with Acrylics they dry so fast that it can be difficult to blend from the lighter to the darker parts of the sky. You can use a Retarder which will slow down the process but you have to go by the directions on the bottle or the paint will become gummy and not dry. I prefer to not use a Retarder myself but just work fast. I have a four fluid ounce bottle of Retarder that I have used for the past ten years and still have a third of it left.
When I first started painting skies I had to paint them over and over until I got the look I wanted. Some times it took me two or three hours just to get it right but that was part of the learning process. One shy took over four hours but I found myself going to hat painting over and over again just because I could loose myself in the sky. It was just perfect to me and I learned more in those four hours from that experience than I had learned my whole life until that time about painting skies. You too, will learn a lot by just doing. This is how you will develop your own technique.
In this painting I mixed my darkest blue for the shy on one side of a Styrofoam plate and put a small pile of white on the other side of the plate. I left the blue in my brush from mixing the paint and mix that with pure white and begin the sky at the horizon adding more of the light blue, which I have already mixed up, gradually until I reached the top of the painting. By the time you do this the paint on the horizon will already be dry and you will not be able to go back into that part of the painting or it will mess it up. You have to work with the wet edge as quickly as possible.
This is the technique that I used with this sky, in this particular painting. I also used this technique in the water reflection just in reverse, with the lighter sky area at the top of the reflection and the darker sky area at the bottom of the reflection. In this particular painting I did the sky and the sky reflection of the water with the step of laying in the color as in the early blog on this painting. This is a short cut for this painting because the shy is simple and the water is only the preliminary painting that will just have the reflection painted over it at a later time.
There are a lot of different sky techniques that I have used and I will discuss them in a later blog. Some with a wet technique like painting with water color and some with a dry brush technique depending on clouds and what affect you are looking for.
The best thing you can do with painting skies is just practice and practice. With my first few paintings, after not painting for twenty five years, I found painting the sky and water always the most challenging. But to me, the finished effect of the shy and the water is the most rewarding as well. I find the most challenging things about painting the most rewarding once you have mastered them. Painting water was my greatest challenge at first and the sky being my second greatest challenge. I don’t know if that will be the same for you or not but it was for me. Jump right in and tackle the thing that you fear the most with your painting and you will find that will give you the most reward in the future. Good luck and happy painting.