Pastels: How to Paint Clouds

“Painting clouds is my favorite thing to do,” says Janenne Behl. Working within a narrow value range in pastel, Behl depicts the lush landscapes of the Pacific Coast. Here, she gives a step-by-step demonstration on how to paint clouds in this pastel landscape.

Making Clouds Move
By Jannene Behl

Pastels: Making Clouds Move in a Painting, composition
Composition

1. To create the composition, I pencil in the abstract shapes on UArt, La Carte or Wallis sanded paper. The clouds will comprise two-thirds of the painting.

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Pastels: Making Clouds Move in a Painting, watercolor underpainting
Watercolor Underpainting

2. I do a watercolor underpainting, making sure the shadow areas are the darker and cooler shades of blue.

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Pastels: Making Clouds Move in a Painting
Pastels

3. I start to put in my pastel; the darks are first. I use charcoal or Nupastel black in the foreground third of the painting, and softer pastels, such as Sennelier or Schmincke, for the clouds, so I can blend the strokes easily.

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Pastels: Making Clouds Move in a Painting, lighter values
Lighter Values

4. I start to soften the clouds with lighter values, using warm colors against cool colors to bring in the light. In the upper left corner, I make the negative space the color and value of the sky, rather than the color and value of the clouds. This small passage of warmer temperature will push the clouds forward and convey a sense of movement.

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Pastels: Making Clouds Move in a Painting, warm colors

Clouds (pastel, 16×20) by Janenne Behl

Warm Colors
5. I bring the warmest colors into the foreground and put a few touches of the same tones into the clouds—to pull the painting together. To make the clouds move and to unite the disparate parts of a landscape, I always inject a little of the color and temperature of the foreground into the sky and clouds, as I did in Clouds (pastel, 16×20).

Learn more about Janenne Behl’s pastel paintings of the Pacific Coast in the March 2012 issue of The Artist’s Magazine. Click here to view some of her pastel landscapes that didn’t appear in the magazine.


Bold Underpaintings for Lively Pastel Landscapes with Richard McKinley
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Click here to watch a preview of the video “Bold Underpaintings for Lively Pastel Landscapes with Richard McKinley.”


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