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Painting Clouds with Acrylic Paint


There are almost as many ways to paint clouds as there is clouds to paint! It can get confusing. What method should you use? 

Truth is there is no right way or one way it's whatever way suits you and the sky you are painting.

When I first changed from watercolour to acrylic paints I had to learn a whole new way to paint clouds as the methods I used in watercolour wouldn't work with acrylic.

As I paint a lot of seascapes and sunsets it was very important for me to master clouds. After a lot of experimenting and practice I came up with a few methods that worked for me. 

I thought I would share them with you and hope you find them useful. Basically there are two methods. Wet into wet and dry brushing. You can get different effects with different brushes or by combining the two methods. Depending on the type of sky I want to paint will depend on the method I use.

1, Wet into Wet with a Fan Brush.

 This works well for big fluffy clouds or skies that I want a lot of movement or texture in.

In case you are not sure what wet into wet means, it just means that you paint the whole thing while the paint is wet on the canvas without letting the under layers dry.

For big fluffy clouds in a blue sky first choose your blue for the sky and paint all the sky in making it darker at the top and lighter at the bottom. 

Then get you fan brush. I used one with stiff bristles for this one but you can experiment and see what you like.

Fill it with white paint and while the blue sky is still wet make big cloud shapes using a circular motion with the brush. Do one cloud starting at the top then wipe the paint off your brush with a towel and lightly run it along the bottom of the cloud to flatten it out to blend. Leave the top of the cloud alone. Do this to each cloud you paint. Working down the canvas.

2, Wet into Wet with a Flat Brush, and Mop brush for blending.

This is good for long flat clouds, distance clouds or clouds you want a very directional look to.

To read how I do a glowing colour for a sunset click here

Do your base sky colour then using your flat brush working from the bottom up put in flat long clouds working your way up the sky and using darker cloud colour as you go. You can do this in stages as you don't want that paint to dry. Then get a big soft brush and with a feather light touch brush up and then across the clouds to soften them. Keep this brush clean and dry. If you start getting drag marks in the paint you may need a fresh clean dry brush. 

3, Dry brushing.

Great for storm clouds or whole sky clouds and very large clouds you want to shape within the cloud. Also for those wispy bits coming off the clouds.

 Read more about how I did this painting by clicking here

Use any stiff bristle brush either a round or a flat round of what ever size is good for the size clouds you are painting. You can put a background colour in if you want so you don't have to worry about white canvas showing though. Then with a dry canvas and a dry brush and paint with little or no water in it start with white on one corner of you brush and your dark on the other. Just a little of each. Using circular movements scrub the paint into the canvas where you want your clouds. The dark and white paint will help you make the highlights and shadows on the clouds. Pick up different amounts of paint each time to change the tones. Once this layer is dry you can always go back and dry brush in more lights or dark's as need.


If you would like some more tips on painting clouds and would prefer to watch video rather than read about it then come check out my YouTube video below.

Here I have used both wet on wet with a flat brush and dry brush methods.

Love to know how your clouds are coming along and if you found this useful, so be sure to comment below.

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