Between not sleeping well and worrying about rain (winter) and heat (summer), I look at the night sky often during the night. As a result I notice things. The first thing I have noticed is that clouds at night seem mostly either to be ragged small clouds or to cover the whole sky. Here in California we don’t have big puffy clouds at night, I don’t know why.
I have also noticed that in comparison with the dark sky, clouds almost seem white. My first attempt to do a cloudy night sky took this as a cue, using a very light blue as the clouds. It looked terrible and I ripped it out.
Thinking about it I decided that a dark blue that was hand-dyed so there was variation combined with a color that ranged from medium-light to medium-dark might work.
The second critical thing is to get those rags of clouds so the light areas read as clouds.
To do this I used a Colour Complements hand-dyed Pearl Cotton for the clouds and Watercolours for the sky. By choosing a slightly different color of blue (blue-violet instead of blue), I further emphasized the difference without making things too obvious.
My next step was to stitch large clumps to be the clouds. I basically followed my rules for clumping (learn the technique here), but made the clumps bigger and more irregular. If you look at the Kathy Schenkel Santa Fe canvas I used for this, you’ll see some variety in the extent of the cloud cover. On the right side it mostly cloudy, with sky subordinate to clouds. On the left it would be mostly clear, with only a few bits of cloud, In the center it’s cloudy, with plenty of sky showing.
I stitch the clouds in Continental, largely because of the irregular sections. Because I used an overdye for the background, Continental was stitched here as well. Basketweave could be used, however when you use a solid-color thread.
The result came out like the night skies I see from my window.
BTW: If you are wondering about this building, which does not look Southwesterns, it is the Catholic Cathedral in Santa Fe. It sit on the Plaza right in the middle of downtown with some of the best Pueblo Revival buildings around it. Its an impressive repository of Native American and southwestern art.
I love it.
If you want to read the story of the man who built it, Archbishop Lamy, read the only slightly novelized biography of him, Death Comes for the Archbishop, by Willa Cather. Its one of my favorite books and he is one of my favorite people.