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The sky is the limit

In my most recent blog post, I described the start of a month-long series of sky studies. My intent was to do one pastel study per day with a goal of completing 24 over a period of one month. At that writing I was about halfway to my goal. (If you missed the preceding post and want to read it first, you may do so here, just don’t forget to come back and finish reading!)

24 completed sky studies in pastel

Mission accomplished! I have completed 24 miniature studies of skies that I have photographed over many years. It was an enlightening experience. Although I know there are no “art police” to tell me I must be completely finished this series of mini studies, I have experienced a hint of disappointment, along with the satisfaction that it is over. Yet, it is time to move on to the next step. It is my goal, to take what I have learned from this month of discipline and complete a series of larger more complete paintings of this subject.

But before I do that, it is important to look at the key take-aways from this experience. Yes, I am writing this to share with you, but it is valuable for me as well, to look back and verbalize for myself the lessons learned.

1. My first fear was that these studies would become redundant. There was a point, part of the way through, when I thought I would run out of images without repeating the same scene. This is far from what happened. In fact, I still have images that I would like to use to continue the series!

2. The sky is not just blue! Seriously, I knew sunsets would have the range of yellows, oranges and lavenders. What I did not expect was the diversity from one sunset to the next. I used colors of my pastel collection that I have never used before! Deep purples to pale greens. Yellow ochres to deep turquoise. All were called into action to depict the skies I was painting.

3. I thought I might get bored just painting sky after sky. When I felt I was painting the same old scene, it was time to up my game and select more diverse skies, or skies with varying landscape/cityscape elements. The shapes and color variation continued to provide challenges.

4. I did not think elements such as power poles and lines would be aesthetically pleasing against a beautiful sky. I was so wrong! The studies in which I ventured to add these elements became far more interesting with an increased sense of depth.

Sky Study #11

5. A habit of painting daily over the course of a month, became a welcome part of my schedule. I looked forward to it with anticipation. It never felt like an imposed assignment. I was in my element and enjoying that dedicated time at my easel.

6. Posting the results each day to social media provided valuable insight. Others might see something in my paintings that I didn’t see. Learning how others interpret what I have painted, and how it may be different from my intent was valuable to me as an artist.

"Sky Study #26"

7. I found that others who were following my progress, began to look at the sky with new appreciation. They were taking sky photos and sharing them with me. I love that by following along with my work, others became more aware of the beauty that surrounds them every day.

So, what’s next? It is my goal to select at least several of these studies and translate them into larger, more ‘finished’ paintings. It is not my intent to just reproduce any one study on a larger piece of paper. My intent is to take what I have learned from doing all the studies and allow that to influence my approach to new work. I hope you will follow along.

"Sky Study #7"


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