My name is Jonene Ficklin, and I'm a full-time wife, mom, writer, and professional artist. I've been drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. I use colored pencils, oil paints, and watercolors. I love what I do!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Lesson 34 - Watercolor - Clouds

Contest alert:

Tuesday I announce the winner of an 8x10 Giclee print of your choice from my website. Last chance to enter will be Sunday at midnight. There's still time to enter. Go here for details:

Watecolor lesson - how to paint clouds:

Now that the frisket has been removed, we have a nice cloud shape, but the edges are hard. Most cloud edges are soft and fuzzy. Let's go in and soften them up.

 Take a paintbrush and dip it in water. Squeeze most of the liquid out of the brush, then scrub along the cloud edge.
Some of the paint will be rubbed up into the white area, or overlap the sky. If you leave it, it will tint the clouds or leave lines in the blue sky. To prevent this, after an inch or so of scrubbing with your wet brush, stop and take a dry washcloth.Tap over the area you just scrubbed. The cloth will pick up the color and any excess wetness.

 The right bottom of the cloud has been softened here.
 Now we're ready to soften the left side. I've finished the bottom cloud piece, but need to do the top one.
 Here is what it looks like after.
 And we'll do the top of the cloud next.
Okay, those edges are softened. We're ready to begin laying color in.

 This is my watercolor palette. There are many sizes. I prefer large. My colors are dark blue, sky blue, yellow ochre and grey. The middle area is where I mix them.
 With watercolors, it's best to start off light. You can always go darker. This is light grey mixed with yellow ochre that I'm using along the bottom of the clouds. As soon as I've made a few strokes, I take another paintbrush with just water on it, and go along any edges left from my stroke. This keeps the area soft, with no hard lines or edges.

We're adding wet paint to a dry area. This technique (surprise, surprise) is called 'Wet on Dry' painting.
 Next, I'm adding a little blue to the grey and creating a break in the bottoms of the clouds.
 Mixing grey, blue and a little yellow ochre, I add color into the body of the clouds, taking it right up to the area with frisket.
 The area is getting wet and starting to buckle. I stop for about a half hour to let it dry, then go back and add more color into the clouds.
 This is what my main tone looks like on my palette.
 I add a bit more color. I like the cloud shapes. After letting this dry a little, I want to add some deeper tones.
 I've added more grey and dark blue to my color mix and then lay it in on the clouds. The paper isn't quite dry, so this mixture makes it buckle quite a bit. But I'm happy with the tones now.
 After adding a light skiff of very watered-down yellow ochre along the highlighted edges of the upper clouds, we're ready to erase off the frisket below.
 It's good to step back and look at the painting every once in a while. I noticed that my upper cloud tilts and doesn't look right. I need to level out the bottom left side. Okay, now I'm happy.
See you soon for the next phase!


  1. It's official. I don't have the patience to do watercolor. Wait until it stops buckling? I'd keep painting until I broke a hole through the paper, LOL!

  2. Lydia, yes, it's an adventure, that's for sure. : ) (I've painted until the whole painting's surface looked like waves.)

  3. Julie, thanks! I'm looking forward to meeting you next week.

  4. That's awesome! Thanks for doing it. It was great to get to know you better.

  5. OK, you're making me want to try watercolors. Why am I suddenly scared? :)

  6. Leisha, ha ha! I know - it's crazy, isn't it? And so scary to try something else, but I know you'd do great!


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