Clouds are a lovely image and motif for artistic work. Whether working on a landscape painting or creating a mural or border for your walls, clouds are symbolic for romance, dreaminess and natural beauty. There are several factors to consider when painting clouds, based on your medium, experience, and goals.
To paint clouds, you must first decide what kind you would like to see. Depending on composition and height, clouds come in all shapes and sizes. You may want to paint clouds that are thin and wispy, or heavy thunderous storms. Some people love the fluffy, marshmallow-like texture of cumulus clouds, while other prefer the patchy patterns of a mackerel sky. Consider taking reference photographs or researching types of clouds online to refine what you want to paint. Many artists believe that intense and studied observation is a key to being a skilled painter.
You will also need to determine the color of the sky in order to paint clouds for your project. Do you prefer a multi-hued, vibrant sunset, or puffy white clouds against an azure blue sky? Using acrylic or oil paints, you can paint clouds and sky at the same time, blending the colors together on your canvas or wall to create the right texture and ratio of cloud to sky. Little or no blending will make distinct clouds against a clear sky, while heavy blending will result in wispy, barely existent clouds.
You may think that you will only need one color to paint clouds, but observation will show you that clouds are multi-layered. Even the puffiest of white clouds have some shadow to them, giving them the appearance of depth and weight. Consider blending shades with your base color to make shadows, and be ready to experiment with the best placement of shade and highlights. If your clouds are primarily white, consider using an acrylic paint that will allow you to paint right over any mistakes.
Some famous artists are noted for their ability to paint dramatic and fantastical clouds, and may serve as a great reference for aspiring painters. Maxwell Parish’s famous art-deco paintings frequently feature landscapes with prominent and wild cloud details. Similarly, many of the works of French artist William-Adolphe Boguereau feature traditional cloudscapes used to evoke or enhance the emotion of the painting.
Clouds are meant to fire the imagination and inspire daydreaming, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Use bold colors and stylized shapes, and feel no need to make your painted clouds look perfect. Like snowflakes, each cloud is unique in size, shape, and composition. Your painted clouds can be your own perfect daydream, unique to you and your own artistic vision.