How to paint stress-free skies in watercolour with Anna Mason

How to paint stress-free skies in watercolour with Anna Mason


Hi it’s Anna Mason and in this watercolour
tip video I wanted to show you a way to paint sky that keeps you firmly in CONTROL of your
paint. Mostly sky tends to be painted in watercolour
using a wet in wet effect and while it’s possible to achieve some beautiful and very effective
sky effects that way, it’s not a technique that suits everyone.
Wet on wet is, by nature fluid and can require a lot of experience in order to achieve just
the effects you want, exactly where you want them. Alternatively, here I’ll show you a
much dryer, layering method that you might just find a LOT easier.
I’m painting a little landscape here based on a photo. Once the tree, with its dark greens
was painted, it would be almost impossible to paint the sky around the tree without causing
the greens of the tree to bleed into the sky. So we need to paint the sky first.
Though I’ve drawn parts of the tree and grass, I have no drawing at all in the sky because
I wouldn’t want any pencil to be visible through the pale paint that I’ll apply to the clouds.
Because the clouds contain some bright whites which I’ll want to leave as my paper colour,
I paint the next lightest colours first – the pale greys around those brightest whites in the clouds. But I keep my mix soooo watery and light that you can hardly see it here – though I could
just about see it! Especially as it dried. To make it clearer, after it dried, I followed
up by applying some really pale blue paint around where the clouds were – so basically
mapping out their positions at this stage. The thing to note is that I’m using quite
a small brush for all of this. What that means is that even though my paint is watery, the
brush can only carry so much of the mix, so the paper doesn’t get very wet and it dries
quickly. This means I can control where I’m placing the paint and it doesn’t bleed into
the grey of the clouds. But it does mean that it would be prone to creating hard line edges,
or overlaps, where it dries because I’m re-loading my brush quite a lot. That’s where working in thin, pale layers
works so well because as I layer up, those overlaps are only ever subtle and if they’re
unwanted, I can easily smooth them away with my brush in the process of adding the additional
layer. Once the blue was dry, I added another layer
to the clouds, this time focusing on the darker parts of them.
And when that was dry, I added another layer to the very darkest parts to build
up the depth of colour there. Then I switched to use the pale blue again.
Working this pale meant I could work into some of the thinner wispier clouds, changing
the angle of my brush to match the markings I could see in the photo.
Next I went down to a smaller brush and a slightly darker mix so that I could focus
on the darkest parts of the sky with optimal control, but also define the clouds better
and recreate the kind of angles to them that I could see in the photo. Where I left gaps through to the original
sky mix below, I could help create the look of a more graduated transition from sky into
cloud. Having worked on the darker parts of the sky
I could then see that the midtones within it needed darkening, so I went back to my
larger brush and darkened them a little with another pale layer.
After darkening the sky it was easier to see where to subtly darken the clouds and I could
go back and forth like this gradually darkening up the sky overall…
really paying attention to the contrast levels between cloud and sky and trying to get that
right – but doing it gradually and making sure the paper is dry before I apply the next
layer. Working up gradually like this takes some
time but is actually really relaxing and fun because even if you make a ‘mistake’ and apply
paint to the wrong area, you’re working so pale that you can lift it off with some damp
kitchen towel. The pressure is really off! A full video class of this landscape is available
now in my online School. If you’ve enjoyed this tip video, please subscribe
to my YouTube channel and I’d love it if you’d share it with your friends. And if you’d like to take one of my tried
and tested video classes FOR FREE, pop over to AnnaMasonArt.com where you’ll find even
more resources to help you pick up your brush and paint the way you’ve always wanted to.
Remember, you’re not going to improve your painting unless you MAKE the time to paint.
So make sure to schedule in some me-time this week and paint something YOU love. Thanks so much for watching and I’ll see you
soon to help you create watercolours with “wow”.

9 thoughts on “How to paint stress-free skies in watercolour with Anna Mason

  1. I must be going blind as a bat because I didn't see anything till the 4th layer. Maybe that's my problem though I think my biggest problem is more putting paint on the paper. Too scared to make a really bad mistake and that my drawing skills are sub par

  2. It is beautiful, I admire your patience and skill. I love the look of watercolour, but I find it frustratingly fiddly. I will keep on keeping on though. Love your videos Anna 🙂

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