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Look inside The Easy Guide to Painting Skies in Watercolour
VIDEO: Flipthrough - The Easy Guide to Painting Skies in Watercolour
  • Publisher: Search Press
  • Edition: BC Paperback
  • Publication: 24 January 2022
  • ISBN 13/EAN: 9781782219446
  • Stock: 50+
  • Size: 216x280 mm
  • Illustrations: 285
  • Pages: 112
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Series: Easy Guide to Painting
More Information

The Easy Guide to Painting Skies in Watercolour


by Stephen Coates (Author)

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Book Description

There are some areas of watercolour painting that beginners often have trouble with, and one of these is skies.

A sky can make or break a landscape painting. In this invaluable guide, Stephen Coates leads you through some highly effective techniques that will demystify sky painting and turn a good watercolour landscape into a brilliant one.

Stephen takes a unique, no-fuss approach to watercolour, emphasizing the importance of planning, preparation and practise and explaining clearly which tools and materials you need, and how to prepare your palette before embarking on a painting. He then guides you through seven awe-inspiring skies, from blue summer skies to dramatic sunsets and storm clouds, introducing new skills and techniques as you progress through the book.

With numerous handy tips and many examples of Stephen’s stunning landscapes throughout, this book will both instruct and inspire you to create beautiful, realistic skies with confidence.

Table of Contents

Introduction 6
The challenge of watercolour skies 8
Planning 9
Understanding the paint 10
Brushes and brushing techniques 16
Watercolour paper 21
Tools and materials 24
Working from photographs 26

Large Blended Washes 30, White Clouds 38, Sunset Skies 50, Sunbeams 60, Stormy Skies 70, Low Clouds and Mist 84, Perspective and Focal Points 94

Building your repertoire of skies 106
Index 112

About the Author

About Stephen Coates

Stephen Coates was born in Sheffield in 1960. The son of a draughtsman, he was introduced to drawing at a very young age. He excelled in art at school but chose a career in retail, working first in the music industry for 16 years followed by another 16 years running his own catering business.

Over a period of 20 years, Stephen learned and specialized in watercolours in his spare time, and gradually developed his own style and unique brand of teaching. In 2011 he became a full-time professional freelance artist, and set up his own studio in Sheffield with the purpose of teaching others watercolour painting. From here he runs courses, workshops and hosts his own amateur art groups. Stephen also demonstrates his skills and shares his expertise at art societies all over England, and exhibits at a variety of national art shows.

Stephen has authored three how-to books on painting with watercolours  The Watercolour Enigma (2018), Take Three Colours: Watercolour Lakes & Rivers (2019) and The Easy Guide to Painting Skies in Watercolour (2022).

Visit his website www.coatesart.co.uk


SAA Catalogue

The sky is probably the most important part of any landscape painting. Stephen will show you not just how to look at colours and clouds, but also how to use washes and all the properties of your palette to capture look, feel and aesthetics. Stephen is well-versed in the techniques required to do all this, and he explains them clearly and concisely. This is a thorough and complete guide that will tell you everything you need and want to know.


Books on skies are not too hard to find and this important element (arguably the most important) of any landscape has been well-covered. The danger, of course, is of producing a masterclass that only serves to muddy the waters with over-complication.

Regular readers will know how wary I am about easy guides. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and it wouldnt take a lifetime of study. Intelligently approached, however, they can be reassuring and progress in simple, straightforward steps that dont tax the beginner or those struggling a bit to keep up.

On those counts, this is absolutely admirable. Stephen starts with an analysis and explanations of materials and equipment, moving quickly to basic techniques, of which the first is a large, blended wash. The initial exercise uses one colour, then we move to two. Its simple and progressive and were ready to start looking at white clouds. Nothing to frighten the horses, results that will satisfy and I think were ready to agree that, yes, it was pretty easy.

Moving on, youll find heavy clouds, sunsets, storms, shafts of sunlight and mists as well as a look at perspective and focal points. Throughout, youre really only painting skies, with rudimentary foregrounds that add only balance, without becoming an exercise in themselves actually, if you want lessons in simplicity, you have them right there, an unexpected Brucie bonus.

Easy? Well, maybe. Not too taxing? Absolutely.

Customer Review

I was given this book in exchange for an honest review, so as a beginner to watercolour I was looking forward to the contents of this book and I was really pleased with it. Firstly it is a very visual guide; not only do you get lots of photographs of the painting process but the Author has included pencil sketches to guide you and also source photographs so you can see the view that's been used to develop the painting. The author also has dotted the text with teaching points and these have pictures of how the effects should be accomplished and also what happens if you don't follow the author's advice. He even provides pictures of the consistency of different mixes of paint to water. Although the books is aimed at painting skies There is plenty of help to turn these skies into simple landscapes and seascapes that any beginner would be proud to produce. This is an excellent book, well written for the beginner to painting skies and I highly recommend it.

Customer Review

This book gives you a better view on painting many different skies. Easy to understand and in pictorial format. Step-by-step guide that holds your hand through every brush stroke. Thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, giving me a better view on those dramatic skies, I could never work out. I know now with Stephen's guidelines, I can produce a much better sky. This is a must have book.

Leisure Painter

Stephen Coates will be well known to many amateur painters for his courses to art societies all over England and his articles in Leisure Painter. His new book, The Easy Guide to Painting Skies in Watercolour, addresses the problem of skies a common issue for beginners. All-important to a landscape painting, a successfully painted sky can turn an average painting into a fantastic one. In his clear and concise style, Stephen shows you how to plan ahead for success, exploring materials and techniques, including watercolour, brushes and paper, so that you are prepared to make those first marks with confidence. There is also useful advice on working from photographs before Stephen embarks on describing how to paint skies of all kinds, from white clouds and sunbeams to the drama of stormy clouds, mist and sunsets.

The Artist

Books on skies appear from time to time, and most are based around a particular artist's methods of interpretation. Anyone with a reasonably comprehensive library will probably have Norman Battershill's and Ron Ranson's and refer to them for both information and pleasure. The practical approach is more usually a chapter in a wider guide to landscapes. 

So, do you, gentle reader of this august journal, need something that is clearly a beginners' guide? Well, there will be plenty there that you'll check off as 'knew that', but if I added the word comprehensive to the description, I'd probably have at least half your attention. There's light here, there are clouds, composition and balance as well as washes, wet-in-wet, perspective and recession. The book is a pleasure to read and full of ideas and information. Even if you are well experienced, the clear layout and excellent execution make it all worthwile.

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