In yesterday’s watercolor workshop I demonstrated how easy it is to paint skies in watercolor. In the painting above for the sky I used Yellow Ochre, Cadmium Red Light, and Ultramarine Blue, letting the pigments mingle in a wet in wet wash for the cloud shadows. I like to complete the sky in about 3 minutes then let it go. This usually results in a natural looking sky with rich glowing light in the cloud areas.
After completing the sky I allow it to dry and paint in the distant mesa and a light wash over the foreground area, so I can evaluate my lights and darks. With the initial values in place I use my pencil to sketch in some of the shadows and details on the shrubs.
At this stage I bring the painting into sharper focus by putting additional darks in the shadow areas and adding the foreground elements. Finally I put in some strong directional shadows across the foreground. the painting should be finished, but I decide the sky might need a little more attention.
Ordinarily I complete the sky in one pass, but I feel that there needs to be a little more drama in the cloud shadows so I decide to apply a second glaze. This is risky business, since it can muddy up a clean wash if not done correctly. First I completely re-wet the sky area with a 1-inch flat brush and clear water. While wet, I touch a mixture of Ultramarine blue and Quinacridone Coral on the underside of the clouds to darken them slightly.