During the first two weeks, Landscape Painting students focused on the effects of light (sunrise, midday, moonlight) on buildings, land, and natural forms. For the third class session on Tuesday, October 9, Landscape Painting students shifted their attention upwards. Before ‘going into the wild’ (as undergraduate painter Julie Ferris says), students learned about cloud types and viewed the work of historical and contemporary artists for whose work the sky and clouds were an inspiration.
The students’ primary challenge was to capture the shift of color in the sky and clouds from side to side in a panoramic work in which the sky accounted for at least 2/3 of the composition. They were also asked to include at least two layers of clouds – one cloud type in front of another, and to complete each of three sky studies in thirty minutes. Graduate painting student Kim Bates captured the shadows cast by clouds onto the distant mountain ranges, and in the work of other students, such as Sujay Shah, the sky accounted for 100% of the composition. The students commented on the difficulty posed by painting from observation a subject that did not stay still. To our good fortune, the clouds couldn’t have been better for our purposes if they had been custom ordered: they shape-shifted slowly in a light breeze. As the clock ticked toward the end of class, the setting sun created a raucous array of hot pink and coral clouds, and parts of the sky took on a greenish tint. And now, the weekend homework is to create three vertical panoramic sky studies, to convey the color shift from the bottom of the composition (at the horizon) to top of the painting (as the dome of sky nears and rises overhead).
For the sky paintings, students are using Arches Huile (Oil) paper. The beautiful paper was donated by Canson, a French company. Without the watermark “Arches Huile,” one would never know that oil paint can be applied directly as this paper has the texture, weight, and deckle edge of mold-made archival paper. Because the students didn’t have to prime the Huile paper, they could spend more time painting. Tyler Giordano created vignettes in which the white of the paper created a spatial sensation relative to the painted areas of the sky, and I applied a layer of pure medium to the paper before creating my own panorama.
By Sandra Reed, Professor of Painting
Photo Credits: Sandra Reed