Stormy Weather – in more ways than one!

You’re heading west on a hot August day, REALLY grateful for that a/c and wondering how those first travelers ever made it through this God-forsaken land. It’s late in the afternoon, and you’re already tasting those frozen margaritas in El Paso and hoping you have enough gas to get there. Suddenly on the horizon you see them – those clouds heavy with the promise of rain, and you can’t wait to feel the first drops on your windshield.

Today, we’ll try to capture that moment.

Only two colors, ultramarine blue and raw sienna, mixed with a little white, to block in the sky and the land.

Add a little Alizaron Crimson to blue sky mix and rough in a winding road. Remember that either an “S” or “Z” shape is a good pull on the viewer’s eye. With Titanium White, rough in your clouds and then imagine some mountains in the distance. With a lot of water and only a little paint, drag some of the purple mix from the clouds to the ground in the left – that’s where the showers are moving in.

Dip your brush in the raw sienna and dot a little texture into the foreground for interest.

With a lot of water and a little white, add to clouds. Remember clouds are many layers, and they are mostly water, so don’t be afraid to get it really wet! Using your purple mix, drag more suggestions of rain falling.

With Hooker’s Green, or your own blend of yellow and blue, add some sagebrush. Build your road, suggesting ruts where the years of traffic have worn through the surface.

Add interest by placing a rock formation at the side of the road.

 With Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium and a little Raw Sienna, warm the foreground. Add a little detail to the cactus, making some of the green darker with blue, and some lighter with yellow.

At this point I will share a common mistake. I goofed! I got so carried away with the texture of the land that my painting lost its focus – the rainclouds are just a blur in the distance! Time to step away, have a cup of tea and look at this painting from a distance. Yup, it’s time to edit out a bit. Don’t be afraid to paint over – the lesson here is that sometimes we lose our focus and need to find it again.

I like the colors, I love the textures, but when I stand back and think about it, I know it isn’t going to work. Something has to go.

Leaving just enough texture in the ground cover to add interest, the ravine was painted out. Now the road leads the eye to the rain clouds, the cactus in the foreground is balanced with the large rock on the left, but the storm on the horizon is the focal point. This painting is finished. We’ll paint a ravine another day!


2 Responses to “Stormy Weather – in more ways than one!”

  1. Good to see you painting for your book once again, at least publicly?! viva la vida extraordinaire


    • Thanks, I’ve been in a shell for a while, but I am slowly crawling out. The weather has felt like August for weeks now, and I am not responding well at all. I think I’ll go live in Alaska.


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