Painting a Sky in a Landscape Painting

The sky is an inherent part of a landscape painting, and hence, it is a feature that any discerning painter should learn how to pull off persuasively.

Luckily, painting the sky in oil colors is not a very demanding task to learn. Nonetheless, for one to master all the aspects of the skyline, it may take a lifetime.

The most critical aspects that a painter needs to learn are brushing techniques rather than rolling on the canvas in order for the colors to fade naturally into each other.

When you understand the different characteristics and shapes of clouds, this makes it easier to learn how to shape a skyline. For example, a stormy sky is dark while a sunset is more reddish or pinkish.

Use a Base Color

One of the easiest ways to begin any landscape painting is with a base color of titanium white. Brush this in the base color for the sky, which can be a green blue or another color that dominates the tone of the sky in the finished product.

Begin at the peak of the composition, working from side to side, and use less paint as you get near the horizon line. When you use a base color, you also get a standard color to use when selecting the colors to use to create the contrasts and compliments within the sky.

Try out mixing colors

It is notable that even a relatively smooth sky contains a number of colors or the same color in different shades. To get the accurate sky color, this is where you need a keen eye for color and the capacity to mix delicate variations of paints.


You can experiment mixing different colors to get different shades of the same base color. You can also produce more than one variants of the painting, which can be tiny paintings on paper or pencil drawings. The reason to study the colors is to determine which colors to use in the painting and how to mix and produce the colors for best results.

Dry brushing technique

Dry brushing is an ordinary brushing skill that is especially useful in creating clouds. First, you need to clean and dry a brush with soft bristles thoroughly. Then, use the paint that you have mixed but not thinned yet with any medium you are using. Dab or brush the paint into the dry base coat using a spongy motion to add little amounts of paint in each brush stroke.

Layering technique

Artists use the layering technique along with dry brushing to produce clouds. After you have completed dry brushing the clouds base, allow the layer to dry. Thereafter, add another layer of the base color to a part or all the clouds forms. Beginning with light layers, add the darker and the more soaked colors.

One point to note is that you need to shade every cloud in the same direction in order for the painting viewers to understand the sun’s direction. Usually, the top of the clouds are the lightest while the bottoms are the darkest indicating that the sun is above the clouds.

Knife painting techniques

Knife techniques are skills that you can use to paint the sky using a palette knife. These knives are usually smooth, flexible and blunt and they help a lot in creating sharp edged forms which give a more rigid and sketchy styles to the clouds.

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