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Digital Subscriptions > The Artist > September 18 > Colours for skies

Colours for skies

Julie Collins suggests some colour combinations for skies, with advice on how to use them as you follow her examples


Julie Collins

studied painting at the University of Reading. Her work is exhibited widely in the UK and she has received numerous awards.

If you are ever looking for inspiration, the sky makes a wonderful subject to work with, as it changes moment by moment. I work outside and produce on-the-spot watercolour sketches of skies, all of which may inform my finished paintings. I often aim for an atmospheric effect and always keep these as simple as possible, using a very limited palette.

You could spend all day doing different versions of skies, a practice that will increase your confidence in colour choices and painting larger areas. If you are inexperienced I recommend that you work on paper 7×11in (18×28cm) and only when you have mastered this size move on to larger pieces. Trying to work too large too soon can be difficult and lead to disappointment. As a sky often covers at least half of a picture, you will have some lovely backgrounds to use for a landscape painting.

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About The Artist

Be inspired to get out and about with your painting kit this summer with tips and advice on sketching and painting en plein air from top watercolour artists Amanda Hyatt, Geoff Hunt and Ian Sidaway. Jenny Wheatley shows how to use your location studies to create exciting compositions back at home, while in a the first of a new series Yael Maimon explains how to select the best format for a successful composition. Aldo Balding demonstrates how to paint a full-length portrait, Robert Brindley shows how to capture the spirit of Venice in watercolour, Barry Herniman reveals how to use acrylics the watercolour way. Plus we focus on the rules of painting, how to paint figures on the beach, learn from the painting style of Christopher Wood, how to choose the best colours for different skies, and how to cope with the challenge of working from poor photos. We've included plenty to inspire you this month, as well as information about what to see and do and competitions to enter with great prizes up for grabs!