Thursday, 11 June 2015


I have heard it said that if you want to be a landscape painter you must become proficient at painting clouds. Clouds consist of colourless tiny drops of water which work like little mirrors to reflect the landscape and light around them. They also create prismatic effects when sunlight filters through them. Therefore, although the beginner my think painting a cloud is a matter of placing a few strategic splodges of white in a blue sky, it is far more complicated than that. A cloud can actually be any colour and any shape, which is why so many artists have a hard time painting them.

John Constable is renowned as one of the foremost landscape painters of the UK. He lived at a time when wandering the countryside to appreciate vistas, was extremely fashionable. He was born amid the flat land of East Anglia, a place of outstanding beauty, where sky dominates the wide open spaces. Like the early Dutch painters it was not surprising therefore that John Constable was a great observer and painter of clouds.

If you want to improve your landscape painting, get out in the local park or the countryside with a sketch pad and your favourite paint and sketch clouds every day for a week at least. Do a little research on the internet and discover how to read the different cloud formations. Observe and make careful notes on your sketches about the colour that accompanies each type of cloud. Stormy clouds are quite dark, breezy Cirrus are almost transparent and Cumulous are tipped with sunlight and opaque luscious off whites.

I would be happy to publish your cloud paintings on my blog, so send them with any insights you have about the process to my email address. Towards the end of June I will show the results of all that healthy fresh air painting.