San Fransisco Colourful Skyline Abstract

There was no painting class last week, and there won’t be one this week, so I decided to do one on my own.

Last class, we did an abstract of the Minneapolis Skyline, and I decided IĀ really needed to do one of my favourite city, San Francisco. So here goes.

Source photo

I spent a minute digging up a good skyline of the City that showed a good stretch of the famous buildings.

Silhouette created from source

I took the photo and traced the skyline, and removed all the other information from the image, so that only the shape of the skyline remained.

Sky underpainting

After tracing the skyline onto the watercolour paper, I inverted the pad and set it at angle by propping up the back. The underpainting is in Quin Gold, which I love for providing a glow back through any other paint I put on top.

Sky overpainting (fog)

The underpainting dried off pretty quickly so I used an atomizer spray to wet the area, then applied some really wet Payne’s Grey to give the foggy sky effect I wanted.

First pass on buildings, still wet

After letting the sky dry completely, I set to on the buildings and skyline. Like the last painting, I used straight colours of Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow), Cobalt Blue, and Permanent Rose to form a triad, and just sort of slopped the paint on letting it blend where it wanted to. (Well, not so much slopping in the building edges, but all the rest.)

After this dried a bit, I went back and firmed up the edges of the building.

Flung drips of paint

After the painting was dry again, I again used the spritzer to wet the bottom of the painting, and using some really juicy pigment, flicked drops at it. This is kinda fun, but also can be messy!

Final, signed

Satisfied with the result after everything had dried again, I signed it.

Colourful abstract San Fransisco skyline
Final, cropped and straightened

Taking the last image into Pixelmator, I straightened the edges and corners, and cropped out the surrounding cruft.



  • Quin Gold
  • Payne’s Grey
  • Aureolin (Cobalt Yellow)
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Permanent Rose


  • Dreamcatcher #10 round
  • Dreamcatcher #4 round


  • Arches 140 lb cold press, 9×12 block


Prints and other items of this work are available on Redbubble.Com