Accepting the Challenge of Painting Skies

Painting skies - Tomas Honz -
A love for painting skies: Part of Honz’s collection of sky studies

Tomas Honz has an impressive body of work focusing on various sky conditions. It was not done without a fair amount of adversity. The Prague painter had more than 20 10”-x-14” sky studies on view at Nová Galerie in Prague last year. He reported that he painted many more than that.

“I have to be really precise when I paint something fleeting like clouds or setting sun,” says Honz. “Every stroke must count. If I make a mistake, I lose precious time, and of that there is often very little. The most dramatic effects might disappear in minutes. Therefore I learned how to be fast yet precise, how to see and mix colors accurately, how to control edges, how to make the least amount of brushstrokes to say the most. And last but not least, how to not feel too attached to my work, because I had to discard more than half my attempts — they were just crappy.”

Painting skies - Tomas Honz -
Oil on board sky study by Tomas Honz

Honz didn’t take it easy on himself. He pursued the conditions most challenging for him. “What started as rather random painting of atmospheric effects ended up as a very focused hunt of that particular sky that I saw sometimes but for some reason couldn’t paint,” says the artist.

“I often find myself eagerly looking out of the window to check what the sky is like so that I don’t miss my chance. I think that choosing one subject and painting it regularly under different conditions might be the greatest thing you can do to accelerate your learning. After three or four attempts, you will become familiar with that subject and you will be able to focus on the qualities that would otherwise be hard to tackle. You can master capturing them one at a time. Also, it will be easier to see your progress. I promise that you will be surprised when you compare the first few with the 20th. Just choose a subject that you are really interested in, otherwise, you will quickly lose enthusiasm.”

Painting skies - Tomas Honz -
Oil on board sky study by Tomas Honz

Honz saw early on that the sky studies would make an interesting exhibition when hung together as a group, close to each other. But he worked at them for a few years until he felt that he had a strong enough batch to show. What was the biggest surprise to come from this project?

“That I never got bored. There are still new and exciting things going on in the sky every day,” Honz reports. “I think it’s a never-ending pursuit, as art should be.”

Learn how to paint clouds and skies in watercolor and oil with this compilation video! It features 14 of today’s most talented artists demonstrating their best methods and techniques for capturing the elusive subjects of clouds and skies: “Clouds and Sky in Watercolor and Oil”

Become a better outdoor painter today when you get the FREE e-Book for artists, “240 Plein Air Painting Tips.” [click here]

And browse more free articles here at


  1. Great idea! I think I will take up the challenge. I just ordered a big box of 8 x 10s and now I know what I’ll do with them. Follow me @stonegate_farms on Instagram

  2. I love the challenge of painting skies! ‘Im curious how Tomas is ready and set to quickly capture those beautiful moments. If I’m looking out of the window and see a sky I’d like to capture, by the time I grab my easel, palette and paints and set up where I can see it, it’s gone.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here