Desert Skies by Susan V. Cochrane

Diane Marie Kellogg freebie projects

Desert Skies

By Susan V. Cochrane




Stark landscapes and vivid colored sunsets are typical in many desert settings. In this project, you will use combing techniques to try and achieve the intense sky color variations with, hopefully, more or less realistic results.



I first picked up a paint brush in 1984 and the interest continued with the self publishing of two books and hundreds of patterns, many appearing in The Decorative Painter, Quick and Easy Painting, Paintworks Magazine and more recently in Pixelated Palette and Painting Ezine.





5 x7" Primed Canvas,


Paints by Decoart Americana

DA228 Bright Orange

DA016 Burnt Orange

DA064 Burnt Umber

DA128 Deep Burgundy

DA231 Electric Pink

DA067 Lamp Black

DA293 Persimmon

DA302 Purple Pizzazz

DA151 Royal Fuchsia

DA144 Yellow Light


Mediums by DecoArt Americana

DAS13-1C Sealer/Finisher (Matte)


Brushes by Royal & Langnickel, Majestic Paint Brushes

2,4,6,10 Shaders, Series R4150

5/0, 0 Liners, Series R4595


Royal Paint Brushes

3/4" Comb, RG730

1/4" Deerfoot Stippler, Series 660

Miscellaneous Supplies

Eraser, palette paper (waxed), paper towels or tissue, stylus, tracing paper (white and gray)


Click >>HERE<< to download the pattern.


Helpful Tip

Depending on how much paint is applied per combing, one or two or more applications of paint may be required for the ideal intensity. Every sky will be different.



The comb is used for the sky. Dampen (not wet) the sky with water. Dampen the bristles in water, then pat onto tissue. Stroke the bristles into thinned paint from the edge of the paint puddle, pulling the paint along the length of the hairs. Touch the bristles to the surface with light to medium pressure and pull horizontally and quickly. The harder you press the heavier the lines will be and may tend to become solid looking without the look of individual hairs, which is more or less desired for this type of sky. You will have to judge whether or not, based on the flow of the bristles, if more water is required to spread the paint.



Orange Sky:

Comb Persimmon along the horizon line. Dry thoroughly. Comb Bright Orange on the remaining sky, leaving bare canvas where the main highlight of Yellow Light will be added. Dry thoroughly. Comb Yellow Light for the highlight areas. Streak a few individual Yellow Light highlights over the Bright Orange areas, if desired. Dry thoroughly.


Float Burnt Umber on the upper right top corner and down the right side as well going about half way down or more if desired and on the lower left side. Dry thoroughly. Deepen with a faint float of Lamp Black on the upper right hand corner and partially down that same side. Dry thoroughly,


Float the hills with Burnt Umber.

Transfer the monuments and land and paint with Lamp Black.



Pink Sky:

Comb Electric Pink at the horizon line in the middle, center area more or less and across the middle top area in a narrow line for the highlights. Dry thoroughly. Comb Purple Pizzazz on either side and above the horizon highlight, filling in the rest of the sky. Comb some narrow hits of Deep Burgundy on the left and right hand sides heading towards the middle of the canvas.


Float the hills with Purple Pizzazz and dry. Apply a float of Lamp Black down the left hand side edge and at the top right corner.

Transfer the cacti and land and paint with Lamp Black.




Apply 2-3 sprays of the Sealer/Finisher.



Related Posts

Happy Mother's Day!
Happy Mother's Day!Mother's Day. Sunday, May 12, 2019.  It's not that far away. We still have time to paint that spec...
Read More
Porcelain Painting - Crocuses on a Glazed Porcelain Egg
We have had requests for information on porcelain painting. So we went to an expert in the field. Linda Lineman is an...
Read More

Older Post Newer Post

  • Gina de la Cruz on

    Living in the CA desert for part of the year these beautiful scenes will go wonderfully in my lil “cabin”. I have also been trying to locate your “man about town” can you advise how to get ahold of that pattern? Thank you! Gina

  • Elaine Sathe on

    I think this is a piece my older boys would like to have painted for them. They’re too cool for santas and scarecrows. :)

  • Carole Young on

    Really think these are great pieces to paint. Looking forward to working on them with my painting group.

Leave a comment