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Silver Linings, Southwold Beach, pastel
Silver Linings, Southwold Beach, pastel

How to Use Pastels to Paint Dramatic Seaside Skies


John Patchett 

John Patchett uses pastels to acheive dramatic seaside skies in this extract from
Leisure Painter July 2009

Demonstration Another Perfect Day

Another Perfect Day-Step 1 paint skies

Step 1

Loosely sketch the basic shapes of the cumulus nimbus clouds using a stick of thick willow charcoal.  Avoid using compressed charcoal, as it is too dark and intense
and will make subsequent layers of pastel dirty.

Another Perfect Day-Step 2
Step 2
Using the side of your pastel, block in the sky with ultramarine blue at the top then, in descending order, cobalt blue, cerulean blue and a lightly-applied pale mauve in the
lowest part of the sky and in the shaded areas of the clouds. Add touches of the different blues to the sea as you go along.

Another Perfect Day-Step 3

Step 3
 Using a very pale yellow ochre, stroke in the lit up areas of the clouds. Then apply mauve grey to the shaded areas of the clouds, the top of the sky and parts of the sea.

Another Perfect Day-Step 4
Step 4
1) To give the clouds some life, add pale Winsor orange and medium raw umber. Use a tissue to blend some of the colours together. Apply a gentle glaze of Winsor orange   
over  the beach, which will help to unite the land to the sky.
2) Now for the exciting bit! Make a small wad of soft tissue and start to blend some of the colours in the clouds with it. The tissue will get dirty quickly so keep turning it around and use a new clean wad if the clouds become too dark and even. If you blend parts of the sky as you go, you’ll find that some of the blue on your tissue can be mixed into parts of the clouds.

Another Perfect Day-Step 5
Step 5
At this point, you should be able to see which areas need to be highlighted and refined. I used a cream shade white to lighten parts of the clouds. Resist the temptation to repeat the same process on every cloud or you’ll end up with a series of clones! Put in highlights with a soft intense Schmincke white, which creates a thick impasto where you need some clouds to stand out more than others. Finish refining the blue sky, putting touches of darker blue against areas of white cloud to create stronger counterchange in places. Then correct any parts of the composition that you are unhappy with. Push some of the clouds back with a tissue or Colour Shaper, if you feel they are all rushing towards the front of the picture.

Another Perfect Day-Step 5Step 6
In the finished pastelpainting, you can see that modifications have been made to the sky. Areas have been softened and some of the colours used in the sea and the beach have been introduced to parts of the clouds and sky. The clearly defined horizon, the deep tone of the sea and the warm hues of the beach help push the clouds back into the middle distance and create the illusion of space. The inclusion of the figures walking their dog and the two yachts help give a sense of perspective and scale to the composition.

Another Perfect Day, pastel, (29x46.5cm)

<< Back to Seascapes

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