Clouds, painting “en plein air” & dragonflies

I make no apologies for this post – I like clouds. I love the subtle colours and textures, the whispy trailing cirrus and the more solid forms of fairweather cumulus and altocumulus.

I photograph and paint clouds whenever I get the opportunity – they add character to a landscape and I love the spatial characteristics of a good cloudy sky. I like the way colour bursts out from different layers and how the sun illuminates the clouds, either directly or indirectly – from above or below. Yesterday afternoon, there were bands of very dark grey rain clouds but intersperced between the layers were patches of pink and white, which were in strong contrast with the colder greys and prussian blues. Whilst I’m not a photographer or film-maker, I love the cinematic quality of the weather in a typical English landscape. Being from Suffolk, (UK) I was brought up to appreciate the work of the famous landscape painter John Constable and the East Anglian School of painting. In common with those artists, I enjoy attempting to capture the constantly changing light and whilst it can be frustrating when you are painting “En Plein Air” (out of doors), I always have my camera handy and take a series of photos to use as reference when I get back to the studio.  That said, if you know your subject well, over the years you can get by without quite so much reference material. For example when I paint a sea – I know what seas look like under various different conditions and at different times of the day, so after doing an initial colour sketch, I might not use any photographic references at all. However, by the time you are 59, if you live on the coast, you have experienced quite a few good seascapes ! I’ve also sailed since I was a baby so I probably have salt water flowing through my veins !

I took these photos yesterday in my back garden – and in case you were wondering I deliberately included a hint of the built environment to give the pictures a bit of context.

This is an enlargement of the image above and clearly shows the first dragonfly that I have seen this summer (31.8.12) I’m not sure what species it is but its probably a common darter. When I took the photo I didn’t realise I had caught the dragonfly – so he was a bonus that I discovered when I enlarged the image !

More on dragonflies and plein air painting later !

About chriswoodartist

painter, print-maker and illustrator


  1. artdoesmatter

    Gorgeous photos and skies you have!

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