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Learning how to draw means learning to see. A good art lesson teaches us not only to create but to look at, think about and understand our world through art.

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Paint the sky: Silhouettes and sunsets



Paint your trees black

 On watercolor paper or illustration board, use waterproof ink or diluted acrylic paint.

On canvas board use acrylic paint.

It is very important to choose a waterproof media for the trees. Set your picture aside and let the trees dry.

After you have allowed your black tree silhouettes to dry, decide on a color scheme for your sky.

Before painting your sky,
Click here to read my post, color theory 101 and
Click here to read my post on Impressionism
Pick a dominant color scheme for your sky

 If you are painting a sunrise or sunset,
choose predominantly warm colors

If you are trying to capture the colors of twilight, try using predominantly cool colors:

If you are using both warm and cool colors, paint the cool sections of your picture first
(leave the sections where you plan on painting your warm colors white until your entire painting is dry).

 When it is time to add your warm colors, start with a clean palette to avoid unwanted color combinations.

Use enough water when painting your sky
to create smooth brush strokes. 

Keep some newspaper handy and test out your brush on it to control the amount of paint and water you are using.

 Start at the edge of the trees and
paint away from the branches.

Use a square shading brush to create clean edges.

 Use horizontal brush strokes to depict a calm sky

Use diagonal brush strokes to depict a windswept sky

You can completely alter the mood of your painting by the colors you choose and the direction of your brush strokes.
Watch the video below to learn why sun rises and sunsets look different:

When you are done with the sky, allow your painting to dry once more and then use black paint, one last time, to touch up your silhouettes.

To learn how to create the pine trees, practice painting the trunks on a piece of scrap paper. Then dry brush the branches and needles using a fan brush for texture. Keep in mind that the branches get smaller the higher you go, forming a rough, irregular triangular shape and not a perfect, sculpted and trimmed Christmas tree shape (trees in a wild landscape aren't manicured by gardeners). Compare your brushwork to photographs of real trees until you are happy with the results. 

Here are some of my reference photographs of skies that you can use to create your background.

Aliciasmom's sky reference photos album on Photobucket

The Sky reference photograph album uses Flash player and may not be visible on some mobile devices. To view the slide show on a mobile device, click here.

Millet was Van Gogh's favorite artist. Van Gogh did not copy Millet's Starry Night. He gazed at the night sky and painted his own picture based on his own feelings and his own experiences. We cannot go outside at night to look at the night sky in art class but we can use the 'star walk' app on the classroom iPads to see what the sky would look like right now if it were a clear night with no light pollution. Can you create your own personal 'Starry Night'? How do artists learn from other artists without copying? How do artists develop their own ideas from observation and experience? 

Each individual artist, Looking out at the night, will see something different. What do you see when you look at the evening sky? How will your painting look?
Georgia O'Keeffe, The Lawrence Tree, 1929

Nocturne, James McNeill Whistle circa 1870-1877 

Watch the video below to discover how the silhouette of a distant planet, as it orbits a far away star, teaches scientists about alien solar systems

Acrylic paintings by 7th grade students

Student Gallery 2013
5th-8th grade students

Student Gallery 2017, Grade 8 bilingual students:

Using Adobe Photo Shop
to plan your color scheme

Unfinished Student Painting

Selection Tool:Highlights
Gradient Tool:Warm Colors

Selection Tool: Highlights
Gradient Tool:cool colors

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