This Sky’s Crazy

Today’s watercolor experiment:


Joy showed me the sky this morning. There were yellows and reds on the bottom of gray clouds.

Digital Photo - Sunrise

Morning Sky
Digital Phone Photo

The photo does not do this sunrise justice.

So I had my goal for today. Red and yellows to gray. Instead of starting out with my good paper, I decided to see how my different reds looked with the Payne gray. While I was at it, I tested all those same reds with cadmium yellow pale.

Watercolor: Gray Red Test Strip

Gray Red Test Strip

The reds I tested were (left to right, starting on the top row): cadmium red light; cadmium red deep; Sennelier red; French vermilion; Opera rose (Sennelier); permanent red deep (MaimeriBlu); quinacridone red; cadmium red; Winsor red deep; Opera rose (Winsor Newton) and permanent alizarin crimson.

From the test, I thought that Opera rose would lend a nice pinkish tone that one sees in the early morning sky.

That was the plan.


I started at the top, as I usually do. As yesterday, I wanted the top part of the sky to be a reddish blue. I soaked the paper and began with cobalt blue. I added French ultramarine which is delightfully reddish. I used a lot of water and did a lot of blotting. I also decided to try the permanent red deep, and dropped some into the blue area.

As per my plan, I laid down some Opera rose and the cadmium yellow pale. It did not look very good.

Watercolor: 1st Stage Multicolored Sky

Crazy Sky First Stage

Proceeding from stage I, I added Winsor blue (red shade) at the top of the picture plane. I liked the graininess of the blue and red area, but the red-yellow mix was not satisfying.

I thought I could fix the red-yellow mixing problem, so at this point I dropped in some Payne’s gray. The rest of my painting process consisted of blotting and dripping paint and water in different measures.

To solve the red-yellow problem I decided to use gamboge, one of my favorite yellows, although heavily tinted to the orange side.

To finish off at the bottom of the study, I used Van Dyke brown to once again depict receding hilly terrain.

Below is the finished study:

Watercolor: Multicolor sky abstract

This Sky’s Crazy
9″x12″ 140# Rough Watercolor Block


Although I wasn’t able to capture this morning’s sunrise colors, I am pleased with the results. The testing I did before painting didn’t seem to do much good, but it did give me a little fore-knowledge of what to expect. I learned more when I was in painting mode.

Right now it seems as if I am wrestling with the watercolors. Hopefully this will turn into more of a collaboration. (Thank you Carol, for that thought.)

2 thoughts on “This Sky’s Crazy

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: