Paint A Morning Sky

Analogous Colors and High-Key Values

In this watercolor lesson, we’ll be painting a morning sky scene with clouds lit by the rising sun. The morning sky is different from other times of the day. Follow along in this lesson to discover the secrets to painting great morning skies!

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In this video, we’ll be painting a morning sky scene with clouds lit by the rising sun.  The morning sky is different from other times of the day.  First, the blues that we normally see in the sky are diminshed – that is, they are much lower in intensity.  Warmer colors are more prevalent in the sky itself and clouds catch the warm rays of the low sun.

We’ll work with a simple composition in this exercise. The sky is featured, so that we can focus on painting the sky and clouds.

The bottom third of the composition includes a bit of rolling landscape. We’ll use this to get a little bit of practice with winter landscape painting and to have a nice foil for the large sky area.

The value range in the sketch is rather narrow. This is a high-key painting – all of the values are in the lighter range and none are really darker than a middle gray.  High-key value compositions are perfect for showing light, airy scenes and creating a sense of calm, content and peacefulness.

Despite the warm light striking the clouds and a bit of the landscape, the color scheme in this painting is really an Analogous Cool Scheme with Warm Complements.  Most of the colors used ranged from cool blue to red-violet. The warm complementary color was yellow-orange.

We’ll do most of the painting work with the Wet-Into-Wet Technique.

What you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paper, about 7″ x 11″ – Arches 140 cold-press paper recommended
  • Colors: Permanent Alizarin Crimson, Ultramarine Blue, Cerulean Blue, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Brushes – 1″ or 1 1/2″ Flat, 1/4″ Flat, Medium Round, Small Round, Rigger

Related Lessons

High Key Values

Analogous Color Scheme

Wet-Into-Wet Technique

Landscape Elements