Live Painting Class | Clouds for beginners

by | Apr 21, 2020 | All Things Home, Art, Artistic Endeavors, Oil Painting, Tutorials | 10 comments

Last Friday, we did another painting class!  It’s become a fun little part of my week to look forward to (and because I’m doing a live video, I am uninterrupted!)  I know I’m not the only one craving some time alone.  On Sunday, I requested that everyone clear out of the main floor for a little while, so I could clean and putter, listen to my music, and have some productive time alone.  This seemed like a perfectly reasonable request from my perspective.  It was a beautiful day, we have two whole other floors where the three other members of my family could go, and my kids are not toddlers.  But, alone time was harder to get than one might expect!  After seeing that mom might blow a blood vessel if people didn’t give me a wide berth for a little while, I got some time alone.  Anyway, let’s talk about painting clouds!

Many of you may remember that I started my painting journey with landscapes, so that meant painting skies and clouds.  I remember clouds being one of the most frustrating things.  They are just so complicated and varied.  They really aren’t white cotton balls on a blue background as we imagine them to be.  I read books, took online classes, and practiced skies a lot.  In many ways, I’m still exploring “my method” for painting clouds and I’m sure I will for many years to come.  There are so many nuances.  And not only are there nuances, but there are artistic interpretations of those nuances.  There is just so much to explore.

how to paint clouds in oils for beginners | free video lesson | miss mustard seed

Most of the class is working on a 6×8 painting, but I also did a 5-minute speed painting.  The funny thing is that I like the way the speed painting turned out better than the one I spent the bulk of my time on.  I find it’s hard to focus on teaching and painting at the same time, so the paintings I’ve completed in these classes are not my favorites!  But, in the speed painting, I just focused on painting the clouds and the result was much looser.

As I did with the other classes, here are three viewing options…

The full class on Facebook…

The full class on YouTube…

And the 3-minute time-lapse version…

And here is how my speed-painted clouds turned out…

how to paint clouds in oils for beginners | free video lesson | miss mustard seed

It looks like a big cloud over the ocean to me.

As with the earlier classes, I’ve loved receiving pictures of the paintings other participants completed.  Here are a few of those…

how to paint clouds in oils for beginners | free video lesson | student painting | miss mustard seed

how to paint clouds in oils for beginners | free video lesson | student painting | miss mustard seed

how to paint clouds in oils for beginners | free video lesson | student painting | miss mustard seed

how to paint clouds in oils for beginners | free video lesson | student painting | miss mustard seed

I have loved getting messages from people who have never painted or who are painting for the first time in years and they feel awakened.  If I don’t do anything else with my blog, I can feel good knowing that I’ve encouraged some people to try new things or try old things that they loved and lost to time or busyness or wounding.  That’s worthwhile.

It’s also been a fun distraction for me!

To build on the cloud painting, I’m partnering with one of my Instagram friends, Megan Gray, and we’re going to do cloud painting together on IG Live.  She’s going to teach me (and you) some of her techniques…


She is so talented and generous and I’m excited to learn from her.  Here are a couple of her paintings…

megan gray fine art | clouds over marsh | miss mustard seed

Soooooo good!  It should be fun, so join us if you can!  I am going to try to record it on my phone, so I can share it for those who can’t make it.

And this Friday, we’ll meet up on Facebook Live for our regular painting session at 2:00 CST.   This week, we’re going to work on an “index card” painting.  You don’t have to have an index card to paint on, but any kind of stiff paper… craft paper, card stock, cardboard, watercolor paper, etc.  You can even use the back of an old greeting card or some other scavenged piece of paper!

The reason why I want to do a class on an index card is I approach painting them differently.  I don’t do an underpainting and allow them to be simple studies, master copies, or a place to test out ideas.  There’s very little pressure when painting on a piece of paper.  If it turns out terrible, I can just chuck it.

index card art project | oil paint landscape | miss mustard seed

We’ll do a study of this Edward Seago painting…

edward seago oil painting | miss mustard seed

It will be a fun one to simplify for a small study and experiment with colors.

I know they won’t get here in time, but for those who want to do an #indexcardartproject series, I found a bunch of awesome vintage index card and library card sets on Etsy.  I even bought a few more myself (like a set of those fantastic green monthly dividers)…


The supply list will be the same as our last few classes, with a couple of additions and changes (those are in bold)…

  • Oil Paints – Buy the best you can.  This is where you want to spend your money, because artist-grade paints have more concentrated pigments, so you can mix the colors without making mud.  I like Windsor & Newton and Gamblin.  (See below for some alternatives.)
  • Gamsol (This is to thin the paint and clean brushes.  You can also use turpentine, paint thinner, etc.) – Gamsol 14 oz bottle
  • Container for Gamsol/solvent (You can also use a glass jar with a screw-on lid) – Leak-Proof Solvent Container
  • Index cards, card stock, watercolor paper, craft paper, etc. 
  • Acrylic Gesso
  • Palette – I use a wood palette, but you can order a glass one (white or gray), a paper palette (again, white or gray), or use a paper plate, a piece of cardboard, or even a piece of glass in a cheap/old frame.
  • Paper towels
  • Ziplock bag
  • Soap to clean brushes & hands – I use Murphy’s Oil soap to clean my brushes and baby oil to clean my hands.  You can also use an olive-oil-based soap or any soap that will clean off oil and grease.
  • Easel – You don’t have to buy an easel, but could purchase an inexpensive tabletop easel.  If you want to get a little fancier, you can buy a pochade box that has an easel and palette built-in.  Really, though, you can paint flat or just prop your canvas up on some books or a cardboard box.  Don’t let the lack of an easel stop you from joining us!  I have found it’s best to clip the cards to a piece of cardboard or thin MDF board.  (A clipboard would work well, too!) 
  • Brushes – One note about the brushes!  The bushy brush I’ve been using is actually not an Eclipse, but a Master’s Choice Long Filbert No. 4.  You can get it HERE, too.  I’m so sorry, but I just realized the mistake a couple of days ago.  The stiff-bristled brush I use is the No. 1 Ivory Long Flat (you can get it HERE, too) both from Rosemary & Co.  Both of these shops (one in the US and one in the UK) are shipping to customers.

If you do have gesso, apply it to a couple of cards or pieces of paper at least 30-60 minutes before the class, so it can be dry.  If you don’t have gesso, don’t worry about it!  You can paint directly onto the paper.  We’ll just roll with it.

It’ll be fun and I’m looking forward to seeing you all there!

Here are links to all of the other live painting classes…

Cow Grazing

Still life with glass & flowers

Under Painting & Still Life Pear

Still Life Pear

Mini Landscapes

Index Card Art | Seago Study

mixing color charts & books for beginners

painting clouds in oils for beginners

landscape oil painting for beginners



  1. Deborah

    Hi Marion! I just finished my first painting following along with your video from a few weeks ago. I learned SO much and can’t wait for tomorrow and Friday! Thank you for posting the videos. I find I need to pause the video, work a bit, then get back to watching and listening. I was an art education major, but I really haven’t painted in YEARS! Thank you for helping me to remember what a gift it can be.

  2. Jen

    Will you be leaving these videos up? I am waiting on my supplies and haven’t been able to participate but I want to and I hope to start from the beginning.

  3. Leone Wilson

    I am a regular follower of your blog. I would like a way to contact you directly. If you are interested, I have a set of 4×6 new, unopened index cards like you purchased and a set of 5.5″ x 8″ cards. I would be happy to mail them to you if I had an address. I could send a photo if you are interested.

  4. Vikki

    Just curious, how can I send you a picture of my painting? I really enjoyed painting the clouds and was a bit proud of my first one. I haven’t done any serious painting in awhile and it felt good to be painting again. 🥰

  5. Anita Sams

    Marian, I’m greatly enjoying seeing the delightful classes you are sharing. It has been fun to see your work improve with practice, and practice is the most important part of learning. One thing I would like to mention, particularly for beginners, is the toxicity of any of the Cadmium colors. (Cad. Yellow is one of your preferred ) The main warning I would like to mention is that one should never eat while painting, and any paint should be washed off fingers, etc., as cadmium can be absorbed through the skin. Of course all art supplies should be treated with respect, and the tubes of paint have lots of good information on them from ASTM. I applaud you, keep up the good work!

  6. Jo Nelson

    I have a tip to share. I was painting, wearing light gray cotton joggers. My easel is not good and I was trying to secure my wet canvas and it fell off and landed on my pants. Paint all over one leg. Well, I thought, I now have a pair of painting pants. But when I did laundry I sprayed the spot with Melaleuca pre-wash spray, not expecting anything. To my surprise, every spot of paint is gone. It’s a great product and safe enough to drink – altho I wouldn’t!

    • Tracy Mar

      Dear Jo,
      Well, I had a similar mishap. I actually sat on my palette! GASP! I am a beginner at this painting endeavor yet, did not become discouraged. After the class last Friday I doffed the dress. rinsed with cold wash, used DAWN Dishsoap & voila, oil paint gone! I did launder thereafter & no stain!

  7. Patty Webber

    The thing about painting clouds is That none of them are wrong. I’ve seen clouds is the sky that looked so fake, so awesome, so every way you could imagine. So just relax.

  8. Suzanne

    Marian, I haven’t had time to join in and paint (I have a stash of art supplies in my closet I haven’t pulled out in a year or more), but I have been watching your sessions on youtube over and over while I work from home! I feel so drawn to paint again. Thank you so much for these classes. I feel so much better watching you paint, then watching current events. I feel the artist in me wanting to find it’s way out again. Can’t thank you enough

  9. Karen J. Kriebl

    I just stumbled upon your painting tutorials and they found me when I really needed something creative to pick up my spirits. Thank you for sharing your gifts with us and I can’t wait to follow your videos live in the future. Now to paint more clouds!!

    Serendipity. . . Such a beautiful thing 🙂


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Marian Parsons - Miss Mustard Seed

I’m Marian, aka Miss Mustard Seed, a wife, mother, paint enthusiast, lover of all things home and an entrepreneur, author, artist, designer, freelance writer & photographer.  READ MORE to learn more about me, my blog and my business…


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