Watercolour skies

Watercolour skies

Here in the Uk we are blessed with so many kinds of weather probably the reason we are obsessed with it. However I thank my lucky stars we were blessed with some sunshine over Easter so we could meet up with family in the garden.

Everyday I go my morning walk and look up at the skies with artistic interest 

No 2 days are ever the same.

So I wander around with my head in the clouds , or marvelling at the view, wondering how on earth would I paint that?


A week or 2 ago we discussed trees , now lets take a look at skies. If ever a medium was made to paint something then to my mind it is watercolours and skies. You can really let the paint and the water do it's thing and no-one can tell you it's not right. I love it.

My simplest sky though is simply leaving the paper white


you do sometimes get a white sky, and when the rest of the painting is busy with foliage or other things then why not do just that , leave it.

Still keeping things simple, you can do a very realistic sky with just one colour. Paynes Grey, 

Do try to alter the tones and maybe have a draker side and a lighter side, think about the direction you want the clouds to take


and if you want to add a bit of warmth, yellow ochre works well and creates a very realistic winter sky with the paynes grey.

Now , because you can with painting lets move to warm summers day, and not a cloud in the sky. Cerulean blue is best for this, slightly yellow at the horizon, then getting more blue towards the top of the page

The yellow glow on the horizon is made with yellow ochre again. Try and do this graduated wash in one go .

Now to add some clouds.

Just leave the paper to do the work for you and add some shadow to the clouds with a purply mixture of cadmium red and cobalt blue.

More clouds in this one , perhaps it's a bit cooler.

Now for a sky which takes up more of the painting

Con you see I am using the light space between the clouds to focus the eye on the church spire. Remember where you pop your darks and lights.

Now for an altogether more dramatic sky

See how it goes from light to dark , I am playing around with colours and shapes.

Or a very windy day at the beach with many more clouds scudding across the sky


Finally dusk comes and you can use more yellows and reds in this sky

The sun is simply the white of the paper, the clouds on the horizon a mix of cadmium red and cobalt blue, and the yellow ochre is warmed up with a bit od cadmium red . 

Keep things simple but have some fun and try to be spontaneous with your skies as the more you mess with them the muddier they get.

Look up and see what happens x




Back to blog

1 comment

Ever so instructive – thank you Rachel!
Luckily for me I live in a place where we have that many different skies as well, and again luckily, it’s in a mountainous area where the sky doesn’t change so quickly – close to the sea the sky changes so fast, every time I look up from my painting the sky is completely changed :D
It sounds so easy when you describe how to paint skies – and in your paintings it looks easy, too. But I often fight with skies so much, and too often the sky wins: SKY : ME 1-0!
Skies are my eternal master (and I’ve got a lot of masters: skies, water, trees, people…)
But I’m learning, learning, learning – and your blog helps a lot! Thanks <3


Leave a comment