How to Sketch the Sky in Watercolour

No matter what you’re painting, if you’re outdoors, the sky is going to appear somewhere in your sketch. There’s nothing like a beautiful sky to bring a sense of atmosphere to your sketch, so to speak.

I’m going to show you a few of my techniques for painting skies, depending on the weather. If it’s a hot, sunny afternoon, there will probably be one or two fluffy white clouds near the horizon. If it’s a blustery day with lots of blue sky, there’ll be big white clouds rimmed with luminescence. If it’s a dull day, the clouds will be full of colour. If it’s about to rain, the clouds will have threatening black undersides. And if it’s raining, and I’m in the car or looking through a window, the sky might be a flat pale grey with no features at all, but sometimes you’ll be able to make out a greyish blush in the white nothingness.

It makes it easier that clouds have certain attributes in common. One of these is a brighter, whiter top bit and a darker bottom bit. This change in colour is very subtle, and painting clouds is a great opportunity to use wet-on-wet watercolour techniques. How sharp the contrast is from top to bottom of each cloud is determined by how strong the sunlight is.

I hope you find the following useful – and remember, practice makes perfect, so get outside on some cloudy days!

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