Watercolour

The Sky’s The Limit… !

I’ve been practicing painting skies. I would like to paint more landscapes this year. When painting landscapes quite often the sky is the first thing that is painted. Obviously I don’t want to “fall at the first hurdle” so I must practice!

I get a good view of the sunrise from the window in my little home studio, so I do get to see some very varied and interesting sky colours and cloud patterns in the early mornings; I’m hoping to draw inspiration from these. Also I have an archive of my own sky/sunrise/sunset photos (from my photography days) which I am going to draw inspiration from.

I have a collection of very different skies to share with you today. All the skies I’m about to share will be glued into a sketchbook, stating the colours I’ve used, for my future reference:

Above a storm is brewing! The colours I used were Ultramarine Blue, Indigo, Lunar Black, Burnt Sienna and Monte Amiata Natural Sienna. Daniel Smith watercolours were used for all the skies in this post; and all the skies were painted on Arches Aquarelle Rough, 140 lb except for one which was painted on Fabriano Artistico Extra White rough, 140 lb.

Here we have a bright blue sky with light fluffy white clouds with just a hint of grey. Colours used are Ultramarine Blue and Flint Grey (my own grey mix).

Heavy rain falling… ! Colours are Prussian Blue and Indigo. I’ve seen heavy rain like this falling in the distance out at sea…

Above is the one painted on Fabriano artistico Extra White paper. Colours are Ultramarine Blue and Sepia. The Sepia mixes with the Ultramarine to create some lovely greys…

More stormy skies! I threw some colours at this one – Prussian Blue, Paynes Blue Gray, Lunar Black, Monte Amiata Natural Sienna and Quinacridone Burnt Orange. Some artists chose not to use ready made blacks, preferring to mix their own but I keep Daniel Smith’s Lunar Black in my palette for several reasons – 1. It’s TRANSPARENT, 2. It GRANULATES, and 3. It MIXES beautifully with other colours to create stunning granulating colours (like Lunar Blue for example).

Lightning storm… ! Colours are Indanthrone Blue, Carbazole Violet and Cascade Green. I did also use Winsor & Newton’s Titanium White watercolour (not gouache) for the lightning.

This sky has a little shimmer added to it courtesy of a little mica powder. Base colours are Prussian Blue, Paynes Blue Gray and Gray Titanium; the mica colours are Gold and Baby Blue – they added a little extra interest to an otherwise slightly dull sky…!

The sky above and the one below are loosely based on skies I’ve seen from my home recently. They were both seen  just minutes apart each other, yet they are very different; they are testimony to the fact our skies are constantly shifting and changing, sometimes very rapidly. Above I used my own Flint Gray and Quinacridone Coral; the sky had a soft light grey cloud cover but with a definite pink undertone, which showed through the lighter patches of cloud.

The pink sky quickly disappeared and gave way to blue sky with fluffy light ochre clouds, and a light dusting of  grey underneath. The colours I used here were Yellow Ochre and Ultramarine Blue.

The start of a new day. This is a sky I see often from my studio window as the sun starts to rise and it’s usually a sign that it’s going to be a beautiful day. The colours I used here were Cobalt Blue, Hansa Yellow Medium, Quinacridone Coral and my own Flint Grey.

No two skies will ever be exactly the same; there will always be wonderful new painting inspiration to be gained from looking up at the sky. And a beautiful atmospheric sky can change the whole mood of a painting. I am going to paint skies (for my personal reference) on a regular basis now; I wont blog about all of them but may post a few here and there.

A lot can be learned about colour from looking at the sky. So next time you’re out don’t forget to look up! What shapes, patterns and colours do you see? What colours would you use to paint what you see? Notice how sky colours never clash – they always look amazing together. So now I need to practice putting what I see in the sky above onto watercolour paper. I’ve discovered that painting a few skies is a great warm up exercise when I begin a painting session. So  why not give it a go – look out of the window at the sky and have some fun painting what you see!