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Rain, Rain, Go Away... Wait... Rain, Rain Stay and Play!

Updated: Nov 18, 2020

Painting rainy scenes takes a bit of skill but the potential for a great painting is worth the effort. Here is why.

Just before a long stretch of rain, the atmosphere builds up with a momentum of activity that has clouds gathering, dancing, swirling and pushing up against each other, jockeying for position. The heat from the earth rises and the cool air falls, precipitating chaos in the sky. When the rain breaks out, the cloud formations can be jaw-dropping. Giant puffers bubbling up and disappearing as fast as they are born. Perfect for sky motive paintings.

The clouds alone can offer up beautiful scenery, but the land can also be a breathtaking display. Like a stone when you wet it, all the vibrant colours appear. The moisture intensifies the colours and deepens the values, making your painting easier to manage. Greens are exotic and luscious. Purples emerge out of hiding. Blues are saturated. Ochres become vivid and glow. Barns are redder. Fences are not grey but purple. Flowers are nuclear. Shadows have saturated colours dancing inside them. Magic.

How does this magic happen? Paradoxically, cloud covered days give off more light than sunny days. The clouds act like a frosted piece of glass and disperse the sun's rays. Single ray divides into many, softly illuminating the ground. The rays are not so harsh and direct but more evenly laid out across the land, allowing values and colours to be easily identified.

Next time the forecast calls for rain get excited and instead of dwelling in your studio go out for a drive and bring your camera. If you can't find shelter or don't enjoy painting from your car, at least take pictures. Copious cloud movement, stellar colour saturation and great photo ops make for a perfect rainy day painting.

Your friend in art,



PS: The hatch on my old van functioned well as an umbrella allowing me to paint under it. With my minivan days long gone, my trusty Tundra doesn't come with this option and painting directly in the rain isn’t as easy as it once was. I have had to pick and choose my rainy sessions a little more carefully, either by painting the scene from a distance or by taking reference photos.

How do YOU paint in the rain?Do you use an umbrella? Do you sit in the car's passenger seat with your pochade box (inset link) on your lap? Do you hideout under a bridge or a picnic shelter in the park? Do you stand on the front porch of your cabin overlooking the lake? Can I come visit?

Share your results with us so that we can share them with all the other drenched artists on ourFacebook Page.

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