Common Problems when Painting a Sunset
|Clean Colours for Sunsets|
- Trying to make a sunset look dazzling by using exclusively bright colours in a painting, such as pinks, mauves and oranges, resulting in a candyfloss and childlike portrayal of dusk.
- Placing dark colours of sunset prior to the pales, causing contamination of the bright colours by the neighbouring dark colours.
- Allowing two contrasting colours, such as violet and yellow or blue and orange, to overlap on the painting, resulting in muddy streaks across the sky.
- Making generalisations about how sunsets should look, such as the gradations of colours when receding from the sun. This is often portrayed as yellow to orange, orange to red, red to mauve and mauve to blue.
- Using black to darken a bright colour, such as red or orange.
- Miscalculating the tonal values of a sunset scene in favour of the colour by making the assumption that blue is always darker than red, or yellow is always paler than mauve.
- Portraying the landscape at the horizon as a cardboard cut-out black silhouette.
This video clip shows how I painted a dramatic sunset in alla prima. Due to contrasting colours, I had to be careful not to let one contaminate the other.
Secrets to Painting Sunsets
Tonal Values of Sunsets
Colours of Clouds at Sunset
Art Techniques for Painting Sunsets
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Look for diverse darks on the foreground landscape. Some will appear warmer than others. Some may have violets, others, smoky blue. Again, nearer objects will often have sharper edges than distant objects. This will help give the silhouetted landscape depth.
My video clip showing how I painted mists over the canyon might be of interest (apologies for the loss of detail on the sky half-way through, this is due to high contrast in the painting).