February 8, 2012

Sky Tutorial: Part 2

Hello, I hope everyone's sky is looking good so far. If you missed part one of this two part tutorial you can find it here


- Unfinished painting
- Something to lean your paper on so that it is at an angle.
-Watercolor paints
-Watercolor brushes of various sizes: I am using a 10, 8, and 2
-Clean Water
-Paper towel

1. Everything in its place. 

Make sure your painting is angled.

2. Choosing Colors

A quick note on color choice. I'm drawing inspiration for the ground color of this very mild winter. So I'm going to use lots of browns, purples and a touch of green. Your ground color can be anything you wish. 

3. Painting the Ground

Wet your brush and select your first color ( I like to start with the darker color and at the horizon line). Notice that I am not wetting my paper first. This is so that the earth appears a bit sharper and more solid than the billowy sky we created last time.

After adding your first color to the paper, start expanding it and at the same time incorporating new colors.

You see I just added a yellow.

And now a touch of green. 

Before you know it the ground is covered. You see that I left both the right and left corners nearest the horizon line darker than the rest. This is to draw the eye and to make a more distinct line between earth and sky. 

4. Depth and Shadow

Now I'm going to add a bit of depth by adding shadow to the foreground ( in our case the very bottom of the paper). I'm going to use purple so as to incorporate the pallet that I used on the sky. This creates a more unified painting, and helps to establish a definite mood.

4. Woods

I sometimes like to add woods to the horizon line. First I select where it is best to place the wood-line.

Then I take my medium sized brush (fairly dry) and dip it in a dark color, in this case I'm mixing brown and purple.

Just loosely add the woods along the horizon line, be sure to add a variety of heights for the tree tops so that it looks as loose and organic as possible. If you wish, do the same for the other side.

Oops, some bleeding occurred on the right side wood-line. Thats ok, sometimes if its not too dark I like to leave it in, I think it adds interest and looks like the shadows that the woods would create. In this instance I'm going to lighten it up a bit by gently moving the paint with my smallest brush.

5. Underbrush

I like to add some grasses to the foreground, not too many here because it is such a clean and simple painting it would take away from our sky and overall look.

To add underbrush, take your dry brush and dip it in paint that has been moistened. Make small fast strokes almost messy. Layer light colors first than go to dark. If you mess up and decide you don't like one of the lines you can easily moisten your brush and smooth it out.

Remember you want to stay in the foreground when making these grasses. If you go farther up the painting with them you will lose the illusion of depth. Its fine to imply texture with darker streaks of paint as you get closer to the horizon line. 

6. Let it dry

Step back from your painting and see if there are any adjustments that should be made. If all looks good, then you are finished! As it dries think up a title for it. I'm going to name mine "A Mild Winter Landscape".

I would love to see any paintings that are inspired by this tutorial.


  1. This is breathtakingly beautiful. Thanks so much for the tutorial. Very helpful.

  2. So engagingly clear and inspirational.I just love this painting and tutorial.