Clouds in Pastel

Before I embark on a colour version of my cloud study, I’ve had a go at changing the composition by making a pencil sketch. I’ve propped the charcoal study in front of my laptop screen, but shortly I’m going to refer to the original photograph, keeping in mind the tonal contrasts that I worked on in the charcoal sketch.


I much prefer the horizontal composition. Now I start on the pastel, working on the light/dark tones in all areas: the sky is darkest at the top, the clouds are darkest in their centres, and the landscape has warm and cool colours as well as tonal contrasts, which help to suggest distance. I’m using the same warm brown paper I used for the pears, as I think it helps the blues to glow.


This is the basic colour scheme for the clouds, but you can see I’m also adding an indigo pastel to the darkest parts of the clouds, and using the purple sparingly as it’s closer in hue to the warm ultramarine blue of the darkest part of the sky. I want the clouds to stand out from the sky, so I use mostly cooler blues for the shadows in the clouds.


Two things have gone wrong with the final version. The clouds are looking too heavy, as I’ve made them too 3 dimensional.  And I made the mistake of spraying heavily in one area. When I worked over the area after spraying, the pastel had compressed into a shiny layer and I couldn’t lay other colours  over the top. I’m also not happy with the heavy texture of the paper. It doesn’t help to convey the clouds’ ‘fluffiness’.


On this occasion I think two of my students were much more successful than I was. These are their works in progress.

2 thoughts on “Clouds in Pastel

  1. Pingback: Clouds in Pastel | Mi Mi Designs

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