Cloud Study - Making plein air oil sketches

Study of Cirrus Clouds by John Constable, 1822. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

For almost forty years Williams has been making oil sketches of skies to use as reference for backgrounds of larger works. Through this process he developed an interest in the ephemeral characteristics of the sky as a primary subject rather than one that is subservient to another work. 

Williams describes his approach,“ The pace of making a cloud study is dictated by the behaviour of the sky. Time is often limited and so working on small panels enables me to stay true to what I’m seeing, no matter how fleeting. The challenge is always how to note the trajectory of cloud, a subtle change in light and not lose the essence of the moment that nature is presenting. Unquestionably in this area John Constable is the artist to study as he established the practice of painting clouds (referring to it as ‘skying’ ) as a subject in its own right and by doing so laid a path for future generations to follow”.

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