Losing mountain peaks in cloud

It’s always good to leave some parts of a painting indefinite, especially when it is a busy composition. With mountain scenery it can become a little boring if the whole scene stands before you in crystal-clear detail, so when we do come across such a scene beneath blue skies it will usually help if we can deliberately obscure part of the background peak, yet still retain a sense of a majestic mountain range.

In this scene, while much of the background mountain is depicted with a fair amount of detail, the left-hand slopes are only partially visible because of the cloud streaming off the summit ridge. This not only simplifies that part of the mountain, but it creates a different shape encompassing both mountain and cloud formation, and this can be varied according to the strength of tone you employ for the cloud and shadow areas, as well as the overall shape. I achieved this soft transition by working the cloud-shadow washes (in this case French ultramarine and cadmium red) onto paper that had already been wetted.
If you enjoy painting majestic mountain scenery without the hassle of hiking far into the mountains, why not join Jenny and myself on our painting holiday to the Canadian Rockies in September 2013? The holiday is organised by Spencer Scott Travel in conjunction with Leisure Painter Magazine.

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