Painting Morning Light, By Still Waters, studio painting by Everglades artist JoAnn Sanborn

By Still Waters

Here's my new studio painting, By Still Waters. It's the first large painting I've done in a few weeks that isn't a commission, and I'll leave it for a day or two before doing a final check. The composition is a bit unusual, maybe too direct, and I may want to further define some directions for the eye. On the other hand, I like how it carries the eye up and around, so we'll see on a fresh look.

Different times of day require different lighting and color considerations. Here are some ideas for a painting you want to portray morning light. The colors are softer and more pastel, as the cooler purples and blues of the night sky still have an effect in shadow as the light comes up and brightens at the horizon. The morning sun is warm, so add a touch of yellow to the greens in light. Shadows can be laced with blue-greens to help portray the remaining coolness. Yellow Azo, or Lemon yellow are good yellows for morning, and can be toned down if too intense. Use a cooler yellow, like ochre or Naples in the distance and added to your greens as the foliage recedes.

The value of the shadows won’t be as dark as some other times of the day, so leave off some of the darkest darks. Remember that shadows are darkest near their source and lighten as they move away and are influenced by reflected light. Here the foliage is still in deep shadow. The tones will lighten as the sun climes higher in the sky.

Some mornings have a pinkish aspect. Portray it with a warm red with a touch of yellow, giving it a salmon glow. Near the distant horizon there may be both warm and cool tones in the sky. When the light is pink, the shadows will be warmed with reflected light taking on browner tones.


Painting Clouds, Morning Promise, studio painting by Everglades artist Jo-Ann Sanborn

Morning Promise
30x40 Sold

Morning Promise is a studio painting I've been working on over the last couple of weeks. The water reflections will be a little bit more defined, and the background brush will have a little more contrast before the finish.

This is a commission, and my client is coming on Monday to view, so I'll be finishing up this afternoon. I've got a second painting ready, too, something I often do for commissions. That way the client has a choice, and I have another nice painting for the shows.

While working, the clouds reminded me of a few years ago when I was teaching my first class and someone asked about painting clouds. We discussed them, I did a demo, but wasn't really prepared to "teach" them. My observations of clouds hadn't translated into intellectual knowledge in a way easy to pass on. Today I'm better prepared for cloud questions.

Clouds are part of almost every day here in South Florida. Observe them to determine their inherent character. There are several different kinds, and they each have their own particular characteristics. Sometimes there are several types in the sky at the same time. Here are a few basic hints for painting them.

1. Design your painting and determine where the horizon will be, and how much will be sky.
2. Determine the wind direction, usually from particular quarter of the sky.
3. Start with a grayed-down color darker than you need. Build the volume first.
4. Paint Quickly. Once your clouds are blocked in, don’t worry that the shapes in the sky change.
5. Clouds are made of water, so they will reflect what’s around and below them—the blue sky, the warm earth.
6. Use a mix of warm colors where the sun hits and cooler colors on the underside and in shadow.
7. Observe the density. Dense clouds reflect more light, edges are sometimes transparent.
8. Use atmospheric regression for clouds, too.
9. Overhead clouds are lighter and larger than those further away.
10. Clouds are warmest just above the horizon.

If you're observant, I'll bet you can add a few of your own!