Summer Sky Painting blog by Lauren Sinclair Morse Summer Sky Painting blog by Lauren
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...Winter contentment ...Spring serenity ...Summer tranquility ...Autumn harmony

"Summer Sky", oil on canvas, 24x24", my finished painting pictured here is not for sale.
All paintings are better than their photos. -Lauren


Summer Sky Painting

While on site observing a scene for a prospective landscape painting,
I like to take a visual memory of what makes the scene memorable and perhaps worthwhile to paint.
In the scene, a breeze is blowing bad weather through, revealing a clear sky, and the growing season is early-summer lush.
While there, I noticed the vibrancy and play of lights and darks in the central areas.
The greens of the foreground and blues of the upper sky were fairly similar in value - adding to the pleasant perspective.

I like a landscape painting to feel lively and natural and well-painted with a happy generosity of paint in meaningful areas.
To this end, I often begin with the darkest areas, the shadows in the below, to get them dark enough and thinly painted.
Covering the canvas quickly can help one's eyes adjust from the all-white canvas in order to better balance scene values and color.
I use a large brush and stay loyal to the key shapes and dynamics,
especially definitive borders between land and sky and dark and light.
Since it is natural to err, I've found it's better to err early if possible and perhaps with a few too many dark values.
And so, my paintings usually start out looking a little dark. I add highlights along the way after my initial lay-in.

early summer sky

I try to keep my colors clear even though I paint with a 'broken color' technique.
Broken color technique to me means I add a little of the primary color's complementary color to break its intensity and saturation.
For example, the cerulean blue sky is made up of white, cerulean blue, ultra-marine blue, cadmium yellow, and alizarin crimson -
essentially, the yellow and red combine and create orange, blue's complement.

I try to 'work the whole scene' at once - not an easy task!
I tend to go after what I believe to be most wrong first, whatever most jars my sensibilities,
and sometimes that is the stroke that I just painted... For example, you might notice that
I softened the lower sky a bit before completing more green areas.

early summer sky 2

early summer sky 3

A challenging painting day in shifting light conditions, I worked long and hard on the sky.
I've heard that I shouldn't change it, that 'the detail is good' as is above.
I truly value having a friend with a good eye share their honest opinion with me. Every artist should be so lucky!
The sky does seem to have better movement to me. I tried not to paint over the best parts,
or, lay down too many strokes on top of one and other since I am going for a fresh look, one that isn't too fussy or staid.

Looking at my painting above with refreshed eyes, I decided to limit the tree on the left which seemed to overwhelm
the dynamics of the sky. When I noted that I 'worked long and hard' on the sky, mostly I thought long and hard about
painting the sky and how I want it to look and feel. Claude Monet is credited for saying "begin with the end in mind."
Painting for me is both a performance art and a visual art, a satisfying result might not take too many strokes
but they must be intentionally and/or delicately placed and executed. Good experience makes a better foundation.
If I am not motivated to paint for better results, I do something else until I am. I've learned that certain kinds of small details
can make a significant difference, for better or worse. I'm planning to paint a little more in the coming days.

To liven it up a bit, I added many new details, highlights, and lowlights throughout my painting below.
Since I'm happy with the atmosphere effect, vibrancy, dynamics, and better sense of depth, I'm calling it finished. Enjoy!

Summer Sky Painting

Summer Sky palette
My water-based oil-paint palette included, titanium white, cadmium yellow pale, alizarin crimson, French ultramarine, cerulean blue, sap green, viridian green, and raw umber.

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