Edward Seago (1910-1974) was a British landscape painter. He is one of the best known and widely collected British artists of the 20th century. He enjoyed enormous popularity during his lifetime including royal patronage by several members of the Royal Family, including the the Queen Mother, the Duke of Edinborough and Prince Charles. Seago painted all sorts of subjects, but is perhaps best known for his paintings of boats, skies and the countryside around his home in Norwich. He painted in watercolor and oil.
Although Seago was given some direction by Sir Alfred Munnings he was essentially a self taught artist. He studied the works of Constable particularly as well as other masters.
Here are some beautiful Seago skies. Notice how Seago carefully orchestrated his skies, playing the lights and darks against each other. Enjoy!
P.S. Our upcoming online class The Painted Sky starts August 7th! Take a look at our previous posts on painting big, atmospheric skies and join us!
One of the most important ingredients for painting big atmospheric skies is getting the values right. We know that generally speaking the sky will have the lightest values in the landscape because it is the source of light (think Carlson’s Theory of Angles- if you don’t know about that you should!). The value of a typical sunlit sky will grade from light to dark from the horizon to its zenith. But it is helpful to assign an actual value to these gradations so we can place them in proper context within the entire landscape . If you key your sky too dark, it will look leaden and lower the value of your entire painting. First, here is the Munsell value scale, running from 10 to 0, light to dark. All images can be clicked for a larger view.
So, remembering that the sky is a vault (right?) here is what that might look like, assigning values to the sky. You will note that there is just a slightly darker value that occurs right at the horizon. Often this is not visible because objects (buildings, mountains etc) are in the way. But, when it is visible, making this value adjustment is crucial.
The values in the sky also grade light to darker from the source of the light to the opposite side of the sky. So, near the sun, values will be lighter and get progressively darker farther away. Here is what that might look like.
So, go outside and look up! Observe these gradations and how they look in different parts of the sky. The values might be somewhat different from what is shown here depending on weather conditions. For example, on an overcast day, the values will actually be lighter than they are on a sunlit day!
Often we may be painting a smaller part of the sky or a lower part of the sky than would include the whole range of gradations. But here is where some artistic license can be taken. Showing both vertical and horizontal gradations, even if not the entire range, will help make your skies look big and atmospheric.
What shape is the sky? As landscape painters we must remember that the sky is not a flat plane in the distance, but a vault which arches up toward and over the viewer’s head.
The fact that we are depicting a vault rather than a flat plane affects the perspective we see in the clouds, the colors and values in various parts of the sky and the amount and quality of light.
But, it should also affect the way we depict it in paint. Specifically, the direction of our brushstrokes! When we want to depict other shapes or forms we often think in terms of the direction of brushstrokes. For example, we might use a horizontal stroke to help define the volume and girth of a tree trunk, or a short curved stroke to suggest the shape of leaves and foliage. So, when we paint the sky, we should use vertical strokes to help show that it is a vault, arching up and over the head of the viewer. Using vertical strokes will instantaneously add a sense of “bigness” to your skies. Even a cloud filled sky can benefit from some well placed vertical stokes. So, give those vertical strokes a try!