In this third update of a portrait in progress I show how I struggled with part of the piece before totally reworking it. As you will see in the photos below, I changed the sky and clouds of the background a number of times before I settled on a variant that I thought worked.

In Part 2 of this blog series you can see how I originally planned to include a sky with some quite large, atmospheric clouds. However as I worked on the portrait further I decided these would be just too dominating within the composition.

Painting Clouds

Image 1: I started by picking out the lights and darks of the clouds that I originally planned to feature and while I felt they were going to look quite realistic I wasn’t happy with how they seemed to run the width of the painting. I also thought they could be mistaken for plumes of pollution, not what a Bride and Groom want featured on such a reminder of their Big Day!

Wedding portrait with cloudy sky

Image 1 | Original attempt at the clouds

Image 2: I next experimented with smaller Cumulus clouds. They were good fun to paint, blending the edge of the clouds to achieve the ‘fluffy’ appearance and giving them weight through the brown-grey shadowing but again I wasn’t happy with the way they distracted from the sitters.

Wedding Portrait Painting with Cumulus Clouds

Image 2 | Painting of Cumulus clouds

Image 3: Unhappy with the Cumulus style clouds I decided to start again. I also felt that the sky felt too warm and more ‘Mediterranean’ than East Lancashire so I cooled it down introducing more French Ultramarine and reducing the amount of Cerulean Blue.

Painting of Wedding Couple with Cool Sky

Image 3 | Reworking the sky to make it cooler

Blending Cirrus Clouds

Image 4: I finally settled on a relatively clear sky with Cirrus clouds. I managed to rework the painting on a sunny day when I could replicate clouds seen through my studio window. It helped to paint the entire sky in one sitting, blending the clouds with Liquin into the blue.

Wedding painting in progress with Summer sky.

Image 4 | Developed Sky featuring Cirrus Clouds

Images 5 and 6: These final two closer cropped images show how the clouds were carefully blended. I introduced some warmth to the clouds in the distance as they blended into the Pennines on the horizon (image 6).

Oil Painting of Cirrus Clouds

Image 5 | Carefully blended Cirrus clouds

Pennines in background of portrait painting

Image 6 | Clouds and Pennines on the Horizon

In my next update I’ll show development of the Bride and Groom as I try to refine their facial features and improve the skin tones.

Other Progress Updates:

Part 1 – Initial blocking in and under-painting
Part 2 – Building up of oil paint layers and consideration of background
Part 4 – Improving the skin tones of the bride and groom
Part 5 – Refining the detail of the bouquet and wedding dress
Part 6 – Painting the tiara and a bold change to the background
Part 7 – Finishing touches and oiling out

You can now view the completed wedding portrait in my portfolio and find out more about it here.