Clouds on a spring day (May 9th 2020)

A long succession of fine days during the Covid 19 quarantine lockdown has left not much else to do than sit in the garden and stare into the bluest of skies. Skies that are untroubled by airplanes for the first time in memory.

The few clouds that cross the sky are therefore worthy of study for any artist. Careful observation reveals that the clouds have their sharpest, most detailed edges towards the top of the main mass. The lower, shader levels if the cloud are the most amorphous, mist-like parts of the cloud, often shaking imperceptibly back into the blue.

Purest blue sky

How to mix that blue shade? Ultramarine is a rich dark blue with a purple hint to it, but lay down some strokes of the purest Ultramarine and you can see that it’s a pale imitation of the true blue sky. Likewise Cobalt, which is too chalky (at least in acrylic). Pthalocyanine blue perhaps comes closest, but we need to add Ultramarine to counteract its green shade. But these are good problems to have!

May is always a month for pure colours. The pure blue sky I photographed this week is a matches by the pure, intense greens from the trees as they develop their leaves from their grey trunks. Beech tree remain my favourite, common in my local woods.

Beech trees, late April 2020

And if course at this time of year these woods are skimmed by drifts of bluebells, of a shade of blue that echoes the sky above them.

Loughrigg Tarn Painting by Lake District artist David Pott

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