Head in the Clouds

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Before the observing begins, explore the science of clouds. The invisible air around us contains droplets of water we can not see until they mingle above to form a cloud. This formation is the result of warm water on Earth evaporating and condensing in cooler pockets of sky above. We've all interpreted the shape of clouds, but scientists have categorized and named them. There are cirrus clouds and cumulus clouds and others too, and there are variations in many combinations: altostratus, cirrocumulus, cumulonimbus. 

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Now you are ready to explore. Over the course of many days, observe the sky, making little sketches of what you see. You will discover that no two clouds are alike. Clouds may have similar attributes (puffy, streaked, swirling), but from there, when you look closely and really think about what you are seeing, the similarities disappear.

So how do artists recreate clouds in two-dimensions? They begin just as you've begun, by looking. Using chalk pastels is a fun way to capture the essence of a cloud on paper. Begin by sketching your cloud shape in white, then begin smudging shades of blue in your sky space and tinted white. Sometimes clouds have bits of pink, yellow, blue, even purple, look closely. 

With a handful of chalk pastels, a small stack of 3 x 5 rectangles of bristol board, an aerosol of spray fixative (to spray on completed drawings so they won't smudge), pre-cut mat board, and your head in the clouds, you too can create a wonderful little museum of clouds.

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