Learn to paint skies with soft wet-into-wet effects by a slow development of multiple layers. This course teaches you to use multiple washes to deal with one difficulty at a time, without overworking. The methods taught in this course help you to keep your skies looking fresh and luminous, while giving you more control over over placement, colors and values. These techniques take some practice, but they ultimately unlock the possibility of painting complex soft skies and clouds with more control—and calm—than the traditional way of doing the sky in one session.
CAUTION! The methods used in this course are for larger paintings on stretched professional-quality (100% cotton) watercolor paper. You MUST stretch your paper and work at least quarter-sheet or larger to have a good learning experience in this course. This course uses many wet-into-wet effects that are difficult to control when working smaller. The methods in this course use a great deal of water and frequent re-wetting of the paper.
The process used in this course is NOT suitable for
- unstretched paper
- plein air painting
- student-grade paper (paper that is not 100% cotton
If you want techniques for skies and clouds that work at small sizes or on unstretched paper, please see the Small Skies courses or Postcard Paint-Alongs instead.
You’ll need some experience with watercolor to have a good learning experience in this course. At a minimum, this course assumes you are at least comfortable with the basic skills covered in my Watercolor Jumpstart beginner course. Everyone’s temperament and tolerance for frustration is different, so some students will be happy doing this course immediately after finishing Watercolor Jumpstart. Most people will probably prefer to have at least some experience painting at quarter-sheet or larger sizes.
Quick Links to the Course Projects
Scroll down for the full course and lesson outline at the bottom of the page.
"Materials" in this Learning Management System means the templates, photos and handouts used in the course. Information about Recommended Supplies and Materials for the course are covered in the preliminary lessons under How to Use this Course.
All course materials are also supplied in the projects where they are used.
- Project 1 Color Template (crescent moon in predawn sky, with sailboat)
- Project 1 Greyscale Template
- moon in predawn sky photo (distant)
- moon in predawn sky photo (zoomed in on horizon)
- sailboat photo (color)
- sailboat photo (“silhouette”/notan)
- Main Challenges in Project 1 handout
- Goof-Proof Wash handout
- Lynne’s Pre-Wash Checklist
- Project 1 Completed (photo of completed demonstration painting)
- Tips Choosing and Taking Reference Photos for More Success in Painting Watercolor Skies and Clouds
- color combos for skies
- proj 2 template, sized for quarter-sheet
- proj 2 template, sized for half-sheet
- proj 2 ref photo
- lake shoreline reference photo for dark clouds on light sky
- reference photos for dark clouds on light sky (ref 1, ref 2, ref 3)
- reference photo for creating clouds by lifting
- reference photos for creating clouds by negative painting (ref 1, ref 2, ref 3)
- reference photo for painting cloud layers in multiple washes
- reference photos for using gum arabic resist to preserve soft-edged highlights (ref 1, ref 2)