How Passing Storm Came to Be
by Frits Hoendervanger
Since I just started painting with oil about a year ago (I’ve used acrylic most of my life), everything is still new to me, especially the technique required to paint clouds, which I usually avoided with acrylic.
I wanted to bring focus to the dramatic sky since I knew it would need to be a big painting. I stretched a 6-foot x 8-foot cotton duck canvas with heavy duty Fredricks stretcher boards, then gave it three coats of Utrecht acrylic gesso, thinned with a little water because I still wanted to have teeth left.
The canvas was too big for me to see its entirety at the same time. This presented a bit of a challenge, so I used the grid method to sketch out the basic cloud formations and used reference photos. I started working from the farthest distance, the clear blue sky, and worked my way forward, having fun making clouds swirl and moving the paint around wet-into-wet.
Once the canvas was covered, I started using different colored glazes on top of each other, letting them dry in between coats. This helped me capture the depth and atmosphere of the clouds.
I experimented with different blues, blacks and umbers beforehand on an old scrapped canvas, and ended up using Winsor & Newton Prussian blue, cerulean blue, Payne’s grey, yellow ochre, burnt umber, titanium white and my favorite, old Holland Schevening’s blue. In the foreground, I used mostly old Holland Schevening’s green and Gamblin chromium oxide green. My medium was Winsor & Newton blending and glazing medium and Gamblin gamsol. My brushes were Filbert and Utrecht finest bristle, and I used round sables in the foreground. I also used a nice, long homemade mahl stick. My palette is glass on white board.
Amazingly, Hoendervanger has had no formal art training but says he’s learned much through books, fellow artists, museums and magazines such as The Artist’s Magazine. “Learning never stops—to me, that’s what life is all about,” he says. “The best advice that I can give someone is that if you want to be good at anything—in my case, it’s painting—you have to do it every day. It’s called discipline.”