I love creating my skies with loose free abandon. And for me, there is a real sense of Freedom in Skies when using the Wet in Wet technique!  Whether its watercolours, oils, acrylics or even photography – this technique creates the magical movement, softness and flow I love.

wet in wet watercolour skies, debiriley.com
Wet in Wet watercolour SKY, debiriley.com

Skies: the foundation of your watercolour landscapes

Skies are the foundation for most of my paintings and I find if I set out to do a sequence of skies on a painting day – as a Process,  it serves me very well.

By using that type of approach I get better by doing more!  I end up with several that are usable,  a few that are exciting.

If I have done several skies and have them lined up and Ready to Go, waiting…. I can return to the painting at any time.  All I have left to do, is the middle ground & foreground areas.

Creating an assortment of Skies in various colours and moods in wet in wet,  that I can pick and choose from later, is a great way to alleviate some of the stress and sense of being overwhelmed all at once that we all face now and then.

watercolour skies, wet in wet technique beginners, debiriley.com
Freedom in Skies, watercolour wet in wet technique, debiriley.com

Watercolour wet in wet technique

The one technique I find the most useful and liberating is wet in wet.  Wet in wet creates soft mysterious blurred edges,  there are no hard edges, no locked gates.    Your eyes are free to travel throughout the image smoothly.

Wet in wet in watercolours is done with the paper wet and allowing the dripping saturated brush to just touch the wetness of the paper.

This ‘kiss’ between the two  – creates an instant colour explosion!   The colour races forth across the paper…and if you’re clever, you can nudge it, direct it to go a certain direction.

Acrylics and oils also can be used wet into wet, just slightly different as they are of course, stiffer mediums and you’ll  have to use a lot more fluid to get the paints to flow more.

Photographic Manipulation wet into wet skies

This  pale delicate pastel sky image was a photographic manipulation that I explored trying to see if I could create something close to replicating watercolour’s wet into wet. This one came closer than the rest of my experiments.

This was actually done with my camera and its settings, etc. not photoshop. I have only resized it for the post.

sky - photographic wet in wet replication, debiriley.com
Sky – Photographic wet in wet replication, debiriley.com

Benefits of Wet into Wet Technique

The softness of edges in wet in wet is perfect for

  • backgrounds and distance
  • calmness and serenity of atmosphere
  • creating unification
  •  anchoring shapes such as tree trunks, vases, hills, buildings, etc
  • nudging, directing  viewers’ eyes into the image, along the soft edges which are your ‘open gates”

I hope to have inspired you to go ahead and  ‘experiment’ with wet into wet skies and see where the freedom takes you!