Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Abstracted Cloudscape #5

Here is #5, completed yesterday.  I should title it "Overworked", since it started pushing the envelope of what the paper was capable of dealing with, pastel-wise.  

This one is probably the most surreal and truly abstract of those I've done so far, since it resembles nothing most people associate with clouds.  It's not a commonly seen cloud, and I've never seen on in sunset colors before.  The photo it is based on was taken off my deck during a most fascinating sunset we had last week.   I'll probably post photos at some point.  The clouds you see are known as "mammatus", and are distended pouches seen on the undersides of a cloud.  The name comes from the resemblance to mammary glands.  I've actually seen them several times since being out in CO, usually associated with a cumulonimbus cloud.  These were on the south-facing surface of a large stratocumulus cloud.  No rain, though.  

What happens is as the sun sets, these distended areas are what catch the sun's rays, while the rest of the cloud remains darker.  The curves and shapes of the clouds are made much more visible by the bright light and it produces an eerie and really dramatic effect.  

abstracted cloudscape #5 - mammatus en sunset
pastel on Strathmore 400-series paper
12 x 12 inches

For this piece, I felt it was important to capture the curves of the lightest sections of the clouds, so I applied the pastel in sweeping motions to emphasize this.  There are multiple layers of purples, blues, rusts, and yellows applied, and I had to use lots of finger blending in order to try and achieve the soft transitions seen throughout the clouds.  

I really need to get some good sanded paper to work on, like UArt or Pastelmat, as I think the process would have been a bit less of a struggle.  Nonetheless, I rather like this piece.  It's got purples and oranges, which are two of my favorite colors.

On an unrelated note, we are going to be heading up to the north rim of the Grand Canyon tomorrow for a car camping trip with a few friends over the Labor Day weekend.  I'm hugely excited, as the Canyon is my absolute favorite place on this earth to be.  

I don't know if I'll have time to get another painting finished and posted, but I'm going to try and have several posts scheduled to post Thurs-Mon.  They'll be photos of a variety of subjects that I hope you'll enjoy.


  1. Beautiful! I love the colors. I must say I've never seen a sky like that, but sure would like to! Have a great weekend at the Grand Canyon. Sounds like a fun outing. I'm covering Subway Gallery this weekend and will probably take pastels and scrapy tools and work on encaustic while I sit there.

  2. Hope you've had (are having?) a great trip. Believe it or not, I've never been to the Grand Canyon. Someday.
    Funny, as soon as I saw the pastel, I knew they were clouds and what kind. SamArtDog had some photos of those kinds of clouds on her blog a while back. They always look so strange but interesting.

  3. Oops - missed replying to this last night!

    Liz - thanks! I was pleased with the palette in this, but golds and purples are my favorites. I hope the gallery is busy, but if not, have fun being productive with your time :).

    Jala - never been to the GC? Wow! You must go - it's an amazingly spiritual place, among all its other features. And that's cool that you recognized the cloud type - they aren't *that* common, but if you've seen them, you never forget what they look like. To see sunset light hitting them was unreal!

    We were originally going to leave for the Canyon yesterday (Thurs), but because of some difficulty getting a pet sitter, we decided to make it Friday. I am packed and ready to go, and after a quick note to the petsitter, we are gone!

    Have a good Labor Day weekend, ladies, and happy painting!

  4. And also the paintings are wonderful!


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