Saturday, August 19, 2017

When The Sky Isn't Blue

Summertime Haze, pastel, 11x14

When you photograph a large area of the sky on a vivid, blue sky day, your camera usually cooperates, and you have nice strong, saturated blue in our photo. But sometimes when you photograph just a low portion of the sky (near the horizon), or when the sky is blue but not a strong, saturated blue, the camera sometimes plays tricks on you, and it appears more like a white sky, even though you knew the sky was fairly blue when you shot the photo. Some artists will make the mistake of putting a vivid blue “back in” thinking the saturated blue must reach all the way down to the horizon, when it might just need to go lighter and warmer at that lower portion of the sky.

Reference photo for Summertime Haze.

Another common mistake is for artists to turn the sky blue when the lighting conditions are actually a very warm, glare, especially low in the sky in the early morning or evening. Capturing this warm light in the sky can be every bit as dramatic as a vivid blue sky. And one more mistake often made is to copy that type of lighting condition exactly as it shows up in the photo, resulting in a very flat, greyish-white depiction of the sky.

A Frosty Glow, oil, 11x14

For most people, to view a bright, clear sky in person when the sun is low, you either need strong sunglasses or you need to squint in pain to look in that direction…IT’S BRIGHT!!! Your camera rarely captures this intense light accurately.

Reference photo for A Frosty Glow.

Understanding the color temperature of this type of light will help you create this strong light sensation, which lends itself to a dramatic light capture in a painting.

Morning Glare, pastel, 11x14

The paintings shown in this post (all recent workshop demos) are all examples of this type of light. I’ve included the reference photos so you can see the difference in what the photo indicates in the sky and how I’ve altered that color to create the effect of what I knew to be the accurate light I observed on that day and time at each location. 

Upcoming Workshops: 

Bend, OR - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Sept. 23, 24 & 25, 2017 (Sat/Sun/Mon)
SageBrushers Art Society
117 SW Roosevelt Ave., Bend, OR  97702
Contact: Barbara Jaenicke,

Landgrove, VT - 4-day PASTEL/OIL workshop (studio with some plein air, weather permitting)
Oct. 16, 17, 18 & 19, 2017 (MonTues/Wed/Thurs)
InView Center for the Arts at the Landgrove Inn
132 Landgrove Road, Landgrove, VT  05148
Contact: Tom Checchia,, 802-824-6673

Bridgewater, NJ - 3-day PASTEL/OIL workshop
Nov. 3, 4 & 5, 2017 (Fri/Sat/Sun)
York Art Studio
350 Grove St. #4, Bridgewater, NJ 08807
Contact: Barbara Jaenicke,

There's more!!! ... For FULL WORKSHOP SCHEDULE, go to

My INSTRUCTIONAL VIDEOS are available at

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