Watercolor Cloud Study Process

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Hello everyone and welcome! My name is Noelle, and today I will be sharing my painting process from a watercolor cloud study. The purpose of this study was to exercise my cloud painting skills since clouds are a subject that I have struggled with in the past. Though this video is not meant to be a tutorial, I will talk about my process and what I’ve learned from each one. I began this cloud study with a layer of clear water across the entire surface and applying paint while it was still wet. Clouds are tricky in watercolors because if you want an object to appear white without the use of white paint, it is important to paint around the object instead of the object itself, which is much easier said than done. To paint soft and wispy clouds like this one, I found that it was easiest to use a wet on wet technique, which is a great way to prevent hard edges. It is also important to note that I’m using mostly Mijello Mission Gold watercolor paint because the paint is not spread very much in water. For tiny studies like these where I like to have more control, that can be an advantage. Tissues are also a great tool for lifting paint. I use them a lot in these exercises. Once the first layer was dry, I painted the shadow of the clouds as a second wash on top. This technique and others in this video would not work as well if your paper or paint allows you to lift paint easily once it has dried. I also like to build up my colors gradually and play around with the shapes. For this second study, I also began with a layer of clear water and began painting the sky sunset gradient. The trick is to make a gradient from yellow-orange to blue without mixing green in the middle, and this requires a bit of experimentation, practice, and color theory. I cut out a fair amount of footage from this step since I struggled to make a gradient that matched the reference photo I was studying from. Once I finished this step, I waited until my paper was slightly more dry, but still wet and painted on some soft purple-y grey clouds. Like the previous cloud, I slowly built up my shadows and smooth things out a lot. If your paint likes to spread this may be more difficult on a smaller scale painting like this one. If I were to do this again, I would wait for the gradient to dry completely before adding my second cloud layer; that would make it easier for me to shape my clouds without lifting paint from the sky gradient behind it. Unlike the last two clouds, this one is puffier and has hard edges, so I need to utilize different techniques. I started by painting the sky first painting around the outline of the cloud carefully with my mop brush. Looking back I probably could have used a round or flat brush because that would have given me more control. While this wash was still wet, I lifted paint in a few spots to create a few fuzzy distant clouds. The main cloud in the study was primarily painted by adding small grey strokes for shadows and softening them with a clean, slightly damp brush. I slowly built up layers until I was satisfied with how it looked Working on this piece, I realized that I probably could have been painting with different materials because this Arches cold pressed paper was too textured for my liking, and my brush was a bit too soft to lift the paint easily. Hot pressed paper may have been a better option, or a smoother cold pressed paper from another brand. If you have any recommendations for cold pressed cotton watercolor paper, let me know! Maybe I’ll experiment and try to do some cloud studies on hot pressed paper in the future and see how that turns out, it might even be harder, but who knows? Overall, I really like how this cloud turned out For this study, I chose to draw a light pencil sketch before painting since this piece has more detailed than the previous three. Like the last one, I painted the sky first but ultimately played with it too much. I should have stopped painting the background clouds once I was finished blotting paint using the tissues. Instead, I chose to add another layer for the sky to make it darker and attempt to get a stronger gradient, but this ultimately made the sky appear splotchy and uneven. If I had used masking fluid or tape to mask the cloud, this would have been a lot easier, so perhaps that would be worth a try for a future piece. I painted this cloud using the same process as the last one, adding and taking paint away little by little. I know some of you may be wondering how I mix my greys for the clouds, and I’ll be honest and say I have no preferred method, it changes all the time. For this specific study, I believe I mostly used Viridian, Rose Madder, and Cobalt Blue from my Mijello Mission Gold paint set to mix this cool purple-y grey. It’s also important for you to know that I tend to over mix my paint with too many colors, so be aware of that, I just throw everything in! Overall I think this turned out okay, it’s one of my favorites just because of how the cloud turned out. For my fifth cloud study, I began by wetting the entire surface with clear water and painted a gradient with Mission Gold Burnt Sienna, Cobalt Blue, and Light Red. When I am painting these gradients, I am actually testing the durability of this paper because I am severely overworking this wash. I’m not even showing you close to how many times I’ve brushed my paint brush back and forth because honestly, we would be here all day. Once that was finished I brought out yet another tissue and lifted paint to make space for some cool clouds. I did not have a clear idea about how I was going to approach painting this type of cloud, I used a reference like the rest of these but it doesn’t have all of the information I need to paint it. What color should I use? What technique should I use? And when? I began with the areas where the sun was reflecting off of the clouds right after I painted on the purplish shadows which became messy after some areas have dried and I chose to add more paint to the washes. For funsies, I included some small specks of clouds around as well hoping that those would make the piece look better as a result. I ended up with some funky looking clouds that made me conclude that I should practice those types of clouds some more! They were kinda cute, but it really wasn’t what I was going for. Afterward, I thought it would be cool to add some mountains underneath but I decided not to. Of All six studies, I would say that these clouds turned out to be my least favorite. This was most difficult in my opinion because of the shapes and colors. Like the rest of the studies I painted the sky first and moved on to the clouds afte.r My plan was to paint this cloud on one wash which includes the sky as well. I eventually realized that this was a bad idea, and if I were to do this again, I would plan to have at least two separate washes since this one turned out to be a bit of a mes,s and you can probably tell that I struggled with it. The orange, purple, and blue paints mixed colors I didn’t want, I wasn’t able to blend properly, and who knows maybe I wasn’t even using the right materials! One of the reasons why I believe this was the hardest study to illustrate is because unlike the other studies, the color and outlines of this one are more vague, so without enough context, a viewer might be confused about what they are looking at. This is why I painted trees after I was finished with the clouds; it was meant to give the piece more context and maybe hide some funky spots in the clouds. I made the trees closest to the viewer darker than the ones farther away which I chose to make more purpley. The birds were also a nice touch, too. Not sponsored (no one asked me to say this), but if you want to learn how to paint clouds or anything watercolor related yourself, I would really recommend this book called “The Complete Watercolorist’s Essential Notebook” by Gordon MacKenzie. I bought it a while ago, and it’s actually two books in one, so it has a lot of great information in it about how to paint landscapes and even just basic watercolor fundamentals. If you want to check it out, you can find it on my Amazon Storefront list through the (Affiliate) link in my description, I’ll get a small Commission, and that’s also where I bought mine. If you enjoyed watching this video, consider giving me a thumbs up or subscribing to my channel. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, feel free to let me know! Thank you so much for watching. Make it a great day! You

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