How to Paint the Sky using Watercolours

painting_the_sky_by_juandii-d4os8k5Spring is quickly on its way and with its arrival comes those beautiful blue skies we’ve been missing since the autumn. Those pale pink morning skies, warm yellow sunsets and mid-morning clear blue skies are wonderful inspiration for artists- if only it were possible to recreate what you can see!

Well, we’ve come up with our top tips for getting to grips with painting the sky. Watercolour is a really great medium for painting the sky, because you can vary the intensity of the paint and layer the colour to build up the strength. Have a go yourself today, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes: experiment and see what works for you!

1.  Which colours?  
When choosing a blue, Phtalo, Cobalt and Ultramarine are all good places to start, but be wary of using a blue straight from the tube. Try, on a  spare sheet of paper, little patch tests of colour, with watered down versions and even mix a very small amount of orange to mute the blue.

2. From Dark to Light.
Directly overhead, the sky is at its brightest, but as your eye travels towards the horizon, it becomes paler and warmer in colour: think pinks and peach tones, rather than the bright blue colour we see above.

A good technique for capturing this is to try a graded wash. On good-quality watercolour paper, wash the surface with a large soft brush, and work in horizontal rows of blue from the top of the page, gradually making the colour more watered-down as you work down towards the horizon. While the paper is still wet, softly colour the sky near the horizon with a warm ochre colour.

3. Crayon clouds
When painting clouds, spend time observing what clouds really do. We all know how to draw those symmetrical fluffy clouds, but don’t let yourself settle for a technique that gives the look of generic clouds. Train yourself to look!

Using an off-white wax crayon can be a great way to get realistic clouds in your painting. Begin on a blank page by ‘shading’ the darker areas of your cloud, with a purpley-grey watercolour. When the paint has dried, scrub the crayon over the paint to create the cloud, and then gently wash your sky colour over the clouds. Have fun practicing, and even try adding a touch of pink to the bottom corners of the cloud to make them look even more realistic.

Do you have any paintings of the sky you’d like to share with us?  We’d love to hear your tips and see photos of your work!

Author: Clara Tait

Above Artwork by Juandii

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