Storm Clouds – Pictorial of Drawing Process

For Thursdays Drawing you’ll find the pictorial showing the drawing stages of Storm Clouds (9×12), charcoal on Strathmore Bristol Vellum.  The subject was chosen for this drawing project because of the complex cloud structures and as an experiment I wanted to see how well value ranges could be developed with charcoal to give the cloud forms depth, density and texture.

Stage 1 – developing land and sea:  because the clouds are the main subject the scene was divided 1/3 land/water mass and 2/3 sky.  This stage concentrated on developing the land and water – charcoal was applied to the water areas and blended with a stump toward those areas that would reflect the lighter cloud forms.  The landmass on the left side was drawn in by charcoal pencil and blended strategically keeping in mind it’s a rougher texture than the water.  The bit of rock in the middle of the water was layered in with charcoal pencil and backed out with kneaded eraser.

Stage 2 – developing cloud structures:  keeping lighter areas free of charcoal, the base foundation of the sky was built up with layers of charcoal and blended with a stump.  Charcoal vines were used to add the darkest value of darks and blended in various spots to begin developing depth and density.

Stage 3 – refining cloud masses and landmass/water:  Three things that were worked on at this stage  1) the focal point was better established by developing the cloud textures and then blended out smooth areas to show the different cloud levels and atmospheric changes – edges played a large role here too, 2) depth and density was increased by establishing more of the middle value ranges in the cloud structures – so the darks and strategic lights stood out, 3) the rock formation in the water was made smaller and pushed further back toward the horizon, so it didn’t draw attention away from the focal point.  This particular stage took about 8 hours to do.

Thank you as always for checking in ~ click onto the image for a larger view.

Storm Clouds

Storm Clouds, charcoal (9×12)

The reference image used was from Gary Jones of pmp.


About Mary

Oil Pastelist
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42 Responses to Storm Clouds – Pictorial of Drawing Process

  1. Leya says:

    Clouds are changing and enigmatic…this you have captured excellently, Mary!

  2. Wonderful cloud study Mary.

  3. I of July says:

    always wished I had a hand for drawing… love the way you share with us the creative process

  4. This a beautiful drawing Mary, so good to see the progression. Clouds offer so much don’t they?!

  5. Oh WOW! Mary, you have outdone yourself this time!! It’s the best sky ever 🙂

  6. This is one of your best skies you ever done! Love that you show the start and the end, it gives a full view of the immensity of work what was required to accomplish such an effect! It is absolutely impressive to see the difference between the two!

    • Mary says:

      Hi Eva, thank you for your generous feedback – this mass of clouds was an interesting exercise, from learning how to achieve charcoal values to getting the density of the mass. Really was a good project for me.

      Besides stepping back to analyze a piece, I take photographs of all my work whether paintings or drawings through the entire process. I find the photographs give me a different perspective of the piece while working on it showing depth, perspective, values proportions, etc. – it helps in my analysis.

      Thanks again and have a beautiful weekend.

  7. Millie Ho says:

    Excellent work, Mary! I enjoy reading about your process and seeing your landscape progress from start to dramatic.

  8. Wow Mary,
    Another beautiful drawing. You really captured the mood in this one, and got great form in those clouds! Love it! ~Rita

    • Mary says:

      Hi Rita, thanks very much – love reading your feedback on this drawing series. It was a really cool piece to develop with charcoal. Have a great weekend (just sent you an email).

  9. Mary, you’ve outdone yourself. These are fantastic! I wonder, have you ever tried a charcoal sachet? I’ve been itching to try it myself, but haven’t thus far.

    • Mary says:

      Hi Elena, thanks very much. I haven’t tried charcoal sachet, but I’m going over to check out the link – excited to see what this is. Thanks again, have a great weekend!

    • Mary says:

      Oh yes, Elena I didn’t realize it was Casey Baugh’s sachet. Yes, I’ve tried it but my little sache didn’t have enough charcoal in it and wasn’t broken up enough to get the initial effect he does in his work. But most of his results comes as he adds more interesting layers of charcoal and then some interesting techniques for different looks. His work is incredible and love it, I’ve studied it and some others that have given me some ideas of how to move closer to the portrait look that I’m after.

  10. aFrankAngle says:

    As a non-artist, I greatly appreciate knowing a bit more about the process. 🙂

  11. Miss Mary
    Your work is always of a high standard; such consistency
    is no accident.

    uncle john

  12. Jess says:

    So full of drama! Stunning work!

  13. Really interesting post, Mary, Your work is amazing and inspiring. 🙂

  14. Really impressive, clever Mary ! 🙂

  15. Such a beautiful work, my dear Mary and I love seeing the process! We’ve had lots of those lately btw! Happy New Moon, my dear friend! 🙂 xx

    • Mary says:

      Hi Marina, thank you so much for your lovely comment – appreciate your encouragement! Happy New Moon back to you my friend – have a wonderful weekend and hope to hear your progress on the album!

  16. Amy says:

    Thank you for sharing the process! clouds are so fascinating through your charcoal.

  17. Awesome! You did an amazing job! 🙂

  18. Painting for Joy says:

    Fascinating! Do you use a fixative and a drawing bridge Mary? Thank you for sharing your method and the details of your process.

    Enjoy your weekend! xoxo

    • Mary says:

      Hi Rhonda, thanks so much. Once I’m done I use the fixative to seal the drawing. I’ve had situations where I could have used fixative during the drawing process, but didn’t – I will one of these days soon as some of the projects I have coming up are more complex. I don’t use a drawing bridge – I tried once and found that my lines and perspective were even more off, if you can believe that. So I go free-hand which takes a while to get my initial drawing correct, but that actually gives me time to really analyze the subject and get to know it a little better. Thanks again ~

  19. ladyfi says:

    Wow – dramatic and gorgeous.

  20. oh wow, i hope those clouds stay on your paper and don’t find a way to reach our coast! i’m watching the australia storms and hope they fare ok.. i think those waves will eventually reach up..

    anyway, your theme of storm clouds seems quite appropriate! lovely work, amiga! do you ever get tired of hearing me say how amazing you are? you are a great example for beginners and professional artists… love, lisa

    • Mary says:

      Hey Lisa, so good to hear from you. Thanks very much – I know the storms are kicking up all over the place, stay safe. Thank you for your beautiful compliment and comments – you are my inspiration, the creative one! And, why did I start to draw again? I have to thank you for that! Have a lovely night ~

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