Exercise: Ron Ransom Skies

In today’s class, we watched two videos:

  1. A field scene in Andy Evansen’s Plein Aire painting in the Cotswolds.
  2. A Ron Ransom video tutorial on painting skies, especially clouds

Cirrocummulous Clouds, “A Mackeral Sky”


Tilt up the paper to let gravity help with the painting.

Wet the sky area on the paper with a pale wash of Raw Sienna. While will wet, but not sopping, paint the full strength of Cobalt Blue and continue down the sky without adding paint to the brush.

While it is wet, blot out the clouds using a wadded up tissue. Don’t do too many, it’s a symbol rather than literal view.

The background hills are put in with Burnt Sienna with the sky still a little bit damp to fuzz them out letting them remain in the background, indistinct.

The trees are Payne’s Grey, which makes green on top of the Burnt Sienna.

The foreground was dry brushed in with Raw Sienna, with some grasses and what not added with dry Payne’s Grey.

See notes below painting

Cirrostratus Clouds, “Mare’s Tails”


Similar to the previous painting, except instead of blotting the clouds, I took long deep swipes with the tissue. Again, not many (3 I think)

Background and foreground similar to previous painting. I dropped the horizon nearly to the bottom, because the sky is the thing we really care about for this exercise.

Cummulous Clouds – First Go


This was far less successful.

The same start, with a pale wash of Raw Sienna was too much pigment, the wash needs to be much, much paler.

Painted the blue around the clouds. The tops are the whitest, and the bottoms are the darkest. Using Payne’s Grey again, this time to put in the shadows of the clouds.

Cummulous Clouds – second go


This was a much better go at the clouds. I got a better pale wash, though it’s still picking up more of the yellow than I’d like.

This time, the bottoms of the clouds were done much better with the Payne’s grey.

The trees were stippled in since I was kinda of bored.

The thing he told us to remember is the clouds are bigger near the top of the painting, i.e., it’s closest to you, and as they approach the horizon they get further and further away. It’s almost like the painting curve away from us.

Materials used


  • Arches Aquarelle, 140lb cold press, 9×12 block; each painting was on half of a sheet


  • Raw Sienna
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Burnt Sienna
  • Payne’s Grey


  • Dreamcatcher round #10