Skies
International Artist|August - September 2021
More than just blank space, John Lovett explores how skies can add balance and ambiance to a painting
John Lovett

With landscape-based paintings, no matter what the main subject is, the problem of what to do with that empty bit at the top often seems to crop up. It should be considered in the planning stage of a painting, not as an annoying space to be dealt with toward the end. The sky can have a big impact on, not just the balance of a painting, but the general atmosphere of the work you create. In this article, we will explore different approaches to painting skies and their effect on the balance and atmosphere of the final result.

The soft translucent haze in the sky of this painting was made by layering washes of cobalt blue, permanent rose and aureolin, then adding a final graded wash of white Gouache. Each colored wash was allowed to dry before the next color was applied. The colored washes were made darker at the top, lighter toward the horizon, then darkening down through the water. Once the three colored washes were thoroughly dry the region around the distant hills was dampened to give a soft edge to the application of the hills. As the glazes were applied, the white paper was preserved around some of the boats and buildings for the highlights. After all the detail was painted in and everything had dried, a gray wash was painted vertically down each side of the painting to concentrate attention in the focal area. The final step was to mix a watery solution of white gouache and wash it down across the sky to the top of the mountains. The bottom edge of this gouache wash was feathered out with a clean damp brush to make it invisible. As the gouache wash dried out, the result was a beautiful pearly gray.

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