Painting the Desert

This is an excerpt from my manuscript on oil painting nature and landscapes.

Desert Rain Cloudburst, oil on Aquarelle Arches cotton rag 140 lb paper, 1998, 5.5 x 12.5 inches, private collection.

An August cloudburst at Cima Dome in the Mojave National Preserve, California Desert. A desert tortoise emerged from its burrow to find a drink of rainwater. I watched this summer monsoon cloud open up and drop a cloudburst of rain onto the dry creosote-burgage desert. I had to paint this remarkable weather scene in the arid landscape.

This is a great example of how to paint clouds. Notice how the cloud shadows and rain columns are painted more thinly and the light areas painted thickly and opaquely with the brush loaded with white. Colors used: Titanium white, Naples yellow, permanent rose, cobalt blue, cerulean blue, ultramarine blue, and terra rosa. 

Fortunately the storm did not rain on me, but the air was humid and a welcoming coolness filled the air. Another special day in the desert.


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