Drawing clouds... of course would coincide with the hottest, driest week for over 40 years in the UK, haha! Thankfully I had a few photos from previous drawing trips: layers of cloud over the Solent, feathery cirrus against blue skies and Google provided the rest.
Started by painting 'negative space' around clouds... not so successful: the negative spaces hold attention more than the 'clouds', I didn't capture their shapes well, and it was painted from life as the last clouds of the week were evaporating before my eyes, they moved too quickly for me.
Mixed water colours, painting the clouds not the sky around them... more successful, easier to catch the shapes, mainly because it's quicker to paint the clouds than the spaces around them. The mixed watercolours begin to separate out as it dries which gives additional depth.
Graphite & eraser
So here I applied graphite stick to smooth watercolour paper, rubbed it into the surface, first with crumpled kitchen roll and then with a kitchen sponge/scourer, aiming for an even surface. Mixed results, still some darker marks of graphite on the surface that I didn't seem able to push into the paper.
Working from a photograph, I then used several erasers to remove the graphite, drawing in the clouds by removing the graphite.
Quite a nice way to work, but very slow; certainly can't use this to draw from life as the clouds are gone before I've even made a mark!
On tonal pastel board
I liked using pastels for this as they were the quickest and most responsive medium, useful for quickly changing skies.
I like the tonal background of the pastel board, but I found the textured surface too rough; I found it difficult to apply pastel delicately. So from this, I moved onto brown paper, both 'smooth' with a light tooth and simple brown parcel paper with it's characteristic lined texture:
This seemed the most successful so far. I decided to complete the background of light blue, which I later regretted, I preferred the natural brown paper which I retained in the next series of rapidly shrinking clouds...
After this I worked from photos as we had clear blue skies for a week. I continued to use soft pastels: very quick, responsive, blendable and easy to alter. As they're in stick form, they can be sharpened for detail or used flat side on for quick coverage.
Solent i Feburary 2017
Solent ii Feburary 2017
The photos were taken on the coast at Lymington, Hampshire (UK), looking out over the salt marshes with strips of land cutting across the horizon, the Isle of Wight hidden behind low cloud. Because I'm working from landscape photos I'm looking at a wider expanse of sky and taking in the horizon. It would have seemed odd to lose that grounding edge at the bottom of the page here and it gives the sky a context. I've moved onto a pad of brown paper, which is less crumpled that the packaging paper.
Paris, looking south from the Sacré-Cœur, Paris, Feb 2016.
Cirrus clouds gathering to the north east. June 2017