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Table of Contents Click a page number to jump there.

Introduction

3

Sunset Physics

4

Color Lingo

6

Painters Keys

7

Photography

11

Project 1 - Photography

12

Project 2 - Value Study

13

Project 3 - Glazing

21

Project 4 - Alla Prima

25

Project 5 - The Glow

32

Project 6 - Colour Harmony

43

Project 7 - Plein Air!

58

Project 8 - Inventing Colour

70

Summary

81

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3

Introduction Hi, I'm Richard Robinson. We're here in New Zealand, which is arguably the first country in the world to see the light of each new day, and so it's also the first to see each new sunset. Everyone loves sunsets, but for painters like us they're particularly beautiful because they inspire us to paint them, so we're lucky in that way, but also unlucky, because sunsets can be very tricky to paint. Anyone can paint a sunset, but how can we paint them really WELL? That's what we're going to find out in this course. We're going to paint a number of different sunsets, starting out quite simply and getting more complex as we add new concepts and techniques to your skills. We know that the best way to learn something is to do it, so you may want to watch the whole course right through to start with, but I encourage you to come back here to the beginning and work through the projects one at a time if you want to be able to paint beautiful sunsets yourself. The course does not begin as you might think with painting sunsets from life out here - that's really quite tricky so I leave that right till the end. In my experience you can always paint a thing much better once you understand why that thing looks like it does, so to get the ball rolling let's take a look at how a sunset works.

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4

Sunset Physics

has the least atmosphere to get through, but light slicing through at a low angle at sunset has about 10 times more atmosphere to get through than at midday, increasing the scattering of short wavelengths and leaving more red and orange wavelengths to get to us. In actual fact the atmosphere is really a lot thinner than we all imagine and an orange is a poor example - an apple is much closer to the truth. If the Earth were the size of an apple, the atmosphere, which keeps everything here alive, would only be the thickness of the apple skin. It gives you a

The sun sends us white light, comprised of all the colors

good sense of how precious our atmosphere really is.

of the spectrum. When that light hits the Earth’s atmosphere it gets scattered a little by the moisture in the air. Longer wavelengths of light like orange and red don't get scattered so much by the atmosphere, so the more atmosphere the white light has to go through to get to our eyes, the redder the light becomes.

Light from the sunset gets whiter higher up. Photo courtesy Sonya Johnson www.sonyajohnsonart.blogspot.com Photo by Rubs. Sometimes dust and pollution in the atmosphere increase the effect making the light even more red. In Hawaii for instance, the volcano there often puts out so much volcanic smog, or ‘vog’, that you end up with very

The atmosphere gets thinner the higher up you go which means the light gradually gets whiter up there because there’s less filtering going on. You can sometimes see the effect of this on tall clouds and mountains as a gradation of colour from orange to yellow to white.

beautiful sunsets. You can think of our atmosphere as being like the peel of an orange. Light coming straight down to us at midday

“Sunset”, Ilya Nikolaevich Zankovsky (1843-1917) All Content Copyright © 2014 Richard Robinson Studio. All Rights Reserved.

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There’s also occasionally a gray layer that creeps up from the eastern horizon. This is actually the shadow of the Earth being projected into the atmosphere! Like me, you may find the sunset light effects in the east just as beautiful as those in the west, so it pays to look behind you when you’re facing a beautiful sunset.

The grey-blue layer in the sky is the shadow of the Earth

The Best of Both Worlds

cast into the atmosphere. Photo https://sites.google.com/site/thebrockeninglory/

”Footsteps” 2008 Oil on Canvas 122 x 91cm by Richard Robinson This painting of my son Luke headed down to our beach is something of a montage of two sunset lighting effects. The foreground is light from the front (west) while the sky displays more the effects of a sunrise in the east. You can have your cake and eat it too! It’s something of a cheat but it solves the tendency for loss of foreground colour in a backlit situation. All Content Copyright © 2014 Richard Robinson Studio. All Rights Reserved.

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Color Lingo I’m going to be talking a lot about color in this course,

chroma, or low saturation, and a color with no gray in it, like yellow straight out of the tube has a high chroma, or high saturation.

and more specifically, the 3 aspects of color which are

hue, value and chroma, so let me just define those terms for you so you’ll know what I’m talking about.

So again, we have Hue, Value and Chroma. All colors break down into these 3 parts which makes it a lot easier to discuss the intricacies of color usage in a painting.

Hue is the name we give to a color, like red, purple, yellow - it describes where the color is in the spectrum. That’s the easiest one.

Another term used a lot to describe color is ‘temperature’. Temperature is how warm or cool we perceive a color to be. It’s really just a function of hue because it’s describing where the color fits into the color wheel, but it’s a useful term because it tells us immediately what side of the color wheel the color is on and since we use warm/cool contrasts a lot in painting it can be really helpful to think in terms of color temperature.

Value is how dark or light a color is, as if you were seeing

Reds, oranges and yellows are usually classed as warms

it through a black and white camera. White is our highest

while greens, blues and violets are usually classed as

value and black is our lowest value.

cools. Temperature is a relative measure because for instance we can describe one red being cooler than

Chroma is the amount of gray in a color. It’s more often

another red, which just means it leans more towards the

called ‘saturation’ and sometimes called ‘vibrancy,

cool side of the color wheel than the other. Again, it’s

strength, brightness, purity, or power’ - all of which are a

important that you understand those terms so you’ll know

little misleading, so I tend to use the terms Chroma or

what I’m talking about next. Ok, time to get on to the fun

Saturation. A color containing lots of gray has a low

stuff.

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Painters Keys What are the things we need to watch out for when we are painting a sunset? Values The first thing we get wrong is the values. Values are particularly tricky with sunsets because sunsets often have some very high chroma colors in them and we tend to see high chroma colors as having higher value than

Chroma affects our value perception. We see high chroma as lighter and low chroma as darker.

they actually have and low chroma colors as having lower value than they actually have.

These two swatches have the same value, but see how the high chroma appears to be lighter than the other? This means that when we are painting a sunset we will tend to paint the intense warm colors a little lighter than they actually are, which will make them look a little chalky as we add more white to raise their value. What that means for us practically is that we need to hold off using our lightest value (which may not necessarily be white) till the last possible moment as in this painting by Albert Bierstadt.

Using too much white to lighten can result in chalky color. “Glendalough, Early Morning” - Acrylic 11x14” by Deb Hill

Save your white (if at all) right till the very last moment. “Deer at Sunset” Oil on paper 19.5 x 14” by Albert Bierstadt

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Also, one might think that adding a ‘bright’ red to a sunset will make it more vibrant, but in fact red has a fairly dark value which can often look out of place amongst the other light values there.

Every piece of sky contains 2 gradients - 1 radial, 1 linear. Warm and Cool Sunsets can be a prime example of the general painting guideline that "warm light makes cool shadows" and vice versa. Clouds that are fairly neutral in color during the middle of the day can display dramatic color compliments during a sunset - bright orange where they are touched Painting from our ‘symbols’ tends to lead to over-

by the sun and deep blue on their shadow sides. Yellow

saturated, simplified color. “Sunset” by Roy H. Scott

and violet is the other common complimentary color scheme in sunsets.

http://pixdaus.com/single.php?id=42456 ‘Australian Outback Sunset’. Photo by Kerry Heffernan Gradients Painting light is more about painting gradients than anything else. Each little section of sky you might look at always has at least two gradients happening within it. The sky gets lighter towards the horizon which gives us a vertical linear gradient and it also gets lighter and warmer towards the sun, which gives us a second overlapping radial gradation. Being aware of that is crucial to painting believable skies.

Sunset clouds often display color complements - oranges and blues, yellow and violets.

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9

Chroma and Contrast

blue to me - it might look better a little warmer and grayer.

Something else we tend to get wrong is to oversaturate our colors, making them look too gaudy. There are two reasons for this. The first reason is that our eyes are being tricked into thinking things are brighter and more saturated than they actually are. How's that? Well, the usually warm bright colors in a sunset cover a fairly small area compared to the larger, darker and cooler sky, which makes the light area look lighter, warmer and more highly saturated than it really is. Conversely, that bright warm light makes the cool darks look cooler and darker by

Painting our Symbols

comparison.

The second reason we oversaturate our colors is that we all tend to paint from our current understanding of a subject (our symbols) than from what the subject really looks like. Skies are one of the first things we paint as children, using LOTS of BRIGHT BLUE!

Sky colors are usually not as vibrant as you might think. In the color locators taken from this photo, the further the color point is from the top right of each locator, the more gray the color has in it (lower chroma). Notice how the blue of the sky in position A is actually very nearly gray. Notice too how much grayer and darker the orange cloud is in position C than it is in position B. It’s very easy to make these grayer colors too vibrant in a painting, which often tends to take away from the beauty of the sunset rather than adding to it.

“Fireworks at the Park” Watercolor by Danielle Robinson (Age 6). Our painting ‘symbols’ show our current understanding of a subject. So we have that symbol in our head to overcome when we come to paint a sky as adults. The sky is usually not as high in chroma as we think it is, and the same goes for sunsets. So what does all that mean practically? Just that sunsets overall are a bit grayer than they look and with not quite as much contrast as you'd think either, and if we want to paint them really well we need to stop painting our symbols and get outside and really analyze those colors.

”Florida Sunrise 2” 8x16” Acrylic by Peni Baker. This is a striking image, however the blue sky seems too

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Clouds Where would a sunset be without clouds? Sunsets seem to be a little boring without them - they really add all the drama to the scene. Without them a sunset is just a big gradation of color - a big beautiful one which is very soothing to look at, but it's not something we really get excited about. It's when the clouds almost seem to catch on fire that we run outside to see it and parents around the world hold their children up for a better view.

“Sonoma Coast Sunset” 24x36” Oil by Jackie Lee. Warm/cool color variations in clouds make it all too easy to make mud.

My photoshopped version.

‘Australian Outback Sunset’. Photo by Kerry Heffernan Making Mud For the painter, clouds can bring a sunset to life, but they can also very quickly get out of control and muddy all the

Those are some of the things to look out for when we’re painting sunsets and you’ll see all those in action in the painting projects later on, but first of all we're going need some reference to start from, so lets look at how we might get some good sunset photos.

colors in your sky. The reason is that when you mix warm colors with cool colors you are instantly graying or muddying those colors.

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11

Photography To begin with we will paint from photographs, as many painters do these days, but you will hopefully graduate to plein air painting by the end of this course. By beginning with photos it will help you appreciate the difference between what a camera can achieve and what the human eye can perceive. To get good photos of sunsets you have two options - make your own photos or get some from other sources, probably the internet. Using photos from the internet

Exposed for the lights.

Every image and creative work is protected by copyright from the moment it is created, so if we want to use someone's image to paint from it pays to ask them first, UNLESS it's purely for individual educational purposes (which means you won't sell the painting) OR if you only use a small portion of the image or transform the image substantially in your painting so that it is quite different from the original. Saying that, it's always nice to ask anyway - it shows someone that you appreciate their work and most people are excited to hear that someone wants to paint from their photo. You can find many sites which provide copyright-free

Exposed for the darks.

photos for artists to use. Here are a few of them: http://paintmyphoto.ning.com http://www.photos4artists.co.uk http://www.morguefile.com http://www.public-domain-photos.com http://www.sxc.hu/ http://images.google.com/hosted/life http://www.everystockphoto.com/ Get more photos at www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

HDR (High Dynamic Range). The camera takes several exposures at once and combines them into a single, better balanced photos.

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Photographing a sunset Most cameras these days are pretty clever, but sunsets

Project 1 Photography

really do test them. The problem is too much contrast. If

1. Find 5 sunset photos on the internet (or any other

you focus on the bright sky before you take the photo the

source) that you might like to paint from. Save them to

camera might get the colours in the sky pretty close to

your computer. (Don’t spend all day!)

what you’re actually seeing, but it will tend to ‘underexpose’ the dark foreground, making it a black

2. Shoot your own sunset photos, taking note of the

silhouette. Similarly, if you focus on the foreground before

settings and procedure you used for each photo so that

taking the shot the camera may capture the colours in the

when you get back home you can figure out what the

foreground better, but the sky will be blown out, nearly

best method is for your camera. Also take note of the

white. So if you’re taking a photo of a sunset for a

difference between what the camera sees and what your

painting you’ll want both of these photos - one exposed

eyes see. That’s important!

for the sky and one exposed for the foreground. Usually that means half pressing the shutter button while you’re

3. Make a new folder on your computer called “Sunset

centred on the dark foreground, moving the camera up to

Photos” and put all your photos in there for use in the

see the whole scene and then pressing down fully to take

projects which are coming up next.

the photo. That’s exposing for the darks. Do the same for the sky to expose for the lights. Every camera is different so you’re going to have to play around with yours to find the optimum settings. Try using the ‘sunset’ setting on your camera if you have one too,

Note: For more student work and to upload your

and make a note of what settings you used for each

own sunset paintings visit:

photo so that when you get them back home where you

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can see them properly on your computer screen you’ll be able to figure out which settings give the best results. Some cameras now come equipped with a function to take multiple exposures at once and then combine them into a single, better balanced photo. This is usually called HDR (High Dynamic Range) - look for it in your camera. The more expensive the camera, the better it will be able to capture true to life colour, although nothing yet compares to the human eye. In a nutshell, get there early to plan your shots, take lots of different exposures and settings to see which ones work best and make sure you expose for the foreground as well, but before you go out check you have a full battery and plenty of room on your memory card.

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Project 2 - Value Study

“Value Study” 10x8” Oil on Board by Richard Robinson

Value Study Oh, boring! Well, remember I said that value is the first thing we get wrong? The object of this project is to help you with that, and it will also give you a chance to focus on your brushwork and edges before things get trickier. So get your paints out and here's what we're going to do - paint a simple sunset sky using just black and white. Sounds pretty easy and for some of you it might be a little bit too easy, but I find there's always something to be learned when we get our paints out.

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Materials ✓ 10x8" Wood Panel primed for oil or acrylic in white. 3 Coats of Acrylic Primer, plus 1 coat on the rest to prevent moisture absorption. I use MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard) but you can use Masonite or whatever you have available. You'll find that canvas is easier to hide brushstrokes on if you prefer that, but I often prefer the honesty of a wooden panel which shows all your brushwork. You could use a toned surface to begin with, but for sunsets I prefer white which allows the colors to be shown at their highest chroma more easily, which is not important with this black and white study, but will be a factor in the following paintings. ✓ Ultramarine Blue, Burnt Sienna, Titanium White. ✓ Flat bristle brush #8. (Robert Simmons Signet). ✓ Palette knife. ✓ Painting Medium. (Chroma Archival Oils Lean Medium or similar e.g. Liquin, M. Grahams Walnut Oil Painting Medium) *See Figure 1 for a larger printable version.

Note: View all materials used in the Mastering Sunsets course in your discounted online shopping list here: www.masteringsunsets.com/materials ✓ Resource photo or painting from life. Use your own photo or Figure 1. Get more at www.masteringsunsets.com/photos Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint.

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STEP 1. Define your value range

STEP 3. Block in your darkest darks

Mix the darkest dark and the lightest light for sky & land.

Use some medium - enough so that the canvas does not show through.

TIP: Warm vs Cool The nice thing about using Ultramarine Blue & Burnt Sienna instead of just black is that you can make it warmer or cooler by adding more of the Blue or more of the Burnt Sienna. My idea is to make it a little bit cooler in the darks and a little bit warmer in the lights. TIP: Mix Small Piles First What I tend to do is mix a small pile first to get the color right and once I know the mixture I'll mix a larger pile and join that together with the first one.

STEP 4. Block in the next lightest value. Use a little less medium. I prefer not to blend my strokes and to make my brushwork as random as possible - not paint strips like a house painter. Don't get fiddly! Keep painting large shapes and pay attention to their edges are they sharp or are they soft?

STEP 2. Mix Intermediate Values: 3 values in between lightest and darkest for the sky. Mix larger piles than you think you'll need.

STEPÂ 5. Paint the remaining values Keep moving through the values towards the sun, using less medium with each lighter value so that the paint gets thicker.

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TIP: Acrylic Painters Remember to keep spraying your palette and painting every few minutes to make sure that those paints don't dry. Otherwise you won't be able to make these beautiful soft edges. TIP: Two Gradients Combined Vertical Atmospheric + Radial Sun Glow. Whenever we're painting a sky or especially a sunset it's good to remember there's a vertical gradient as the sky

STEP 6: Block in the Landscape

gets lighter towards the horizon but around the sun

Make it warmer and very slightly lighter as it gets closer to

there's also a radial gradient. These two gradients

the sun because that sun glow is actually affecting the

combine in the one picture, so that each little piece of sky

landscape as well.

has two gradients happening in it at the same time; the radial and the linear (the vertical).

STEP 7. Lights to Darks Reclaim lost detail and adjust edges. When you reach the Every piece of sky contains 2 gradients - 1 radial, 1 linear. TIP: Keep Your Brush Clean! There is no surer way to get muddy color on your painting than to NOT clean your brush in between different paint mixtures.

sun, work back outwards to your darkest value, making sure you keep your brush clean in between values. Apply the light accent of the sun (White with a speck of Burnt Sienna) with a palette knife to make it really thick and textured. I'm often tempted to stop painting after I've gone from darks to lights, but there's a lot of detail that gets painted over in that first run through, as you can see here... This is at the end of the dark to light stage, and here's the finished painting after going back from light to dark... You can see the painting looks more finished, but it's very easy to overdo it, to forget about the separate areas of value and end up introducing to much light into the darks, which makes the painting look pasty, so that's something to watch out for.

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STEP 8. Evaluate (Coffee/Tea Time!) Take a break and enjoy your little sunset painting! Think about what you learned by doing this and if you're really going for a gold star, make a list of the things you learned. Think about stuff like contrast, brushwork, light effects, edges, values - all that sort of arty stuff and make a note in your note book, or below. Light Effects _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ Values _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ Contrast _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ Brushwork _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ Edges _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ Other _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

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Figure 1. ‘Australian Outback Sunset’. Photograph by Kerry Heffernan

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Figure 2. ‘Australian Outback Sunset’. Photograph by Kerry Heffernan

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Student Examples for Project 2 ”Sunset in Value” 9x12" Oil on canvas board by Nora Mackin Subtle value work Nora. You’ve made this more interesting than the photo by simplifying the shapes and tilting the horizon. Nicely done.

“Sunset Gray” 40x50cm Oil on Canvas by Elena Sokolova A good first try Elena. The overall value scheme is good but if you had joined together most of the darker values in the sky into a larger mass the cloud forms would be easier for the viewer to understand. See Nora’s version above.

Note: For more student work and to upload your own sunset paintings visit: www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

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Project 3 - Glazing

“Value Study - Glazed” 10x8” Oil on Board by Richard Robinson

Transparent vs Opaque

TIP: If a finished sunset painting just lacks a little punch in

Some paint colors are transparent by nature, some are

the highlights you can paint over that area with white, let it

semi-transparent and some are opaque. The label on

dry completely and then glaze over top of that with a

the tube will tell you which is which. If you are wanting

transparent color - something like Indian Yellow,

to achieve the most luminous effect possible with your

Transparent Yellow, Transparent Orange - those are colors

paints you'll need to use transparent colors in thin

in the Chroma Archival Oils range, but just check your own

glazes over white. These thin transparent layers of paint

tubes of color to see what you've got. If it's not

behave like stained glass windows, allowing some of the

transparent or even semi transparent you can still use it in

light through the paint layer to bounce off the white

a thin glaze (using lots of painting medium) but it won't be

ground, back through the color again to our eyes.

quite as vibrant as a transparent color.

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Let's try glazing over our first value study, just to see what happens. I've let mine dry for a few days first - it wasn't very thick paint. Usually with oils you'd want to wait about 7 weeks to avoid cracking, but this is just a study so I'm not too worried about that, plus these Archival Oils from Chroma actually stay permanently flexible so you don't need to worry about cracking like with normal oils.

Materials 2. Brush the yellow over the light areas of your paint with a ✓ Your previous Value Study painting, dried.

fine haired brush. Wipe back the edges if necessary.

✓ Ultramarine Blue, Alizarine Crimson, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow Light. ✓ Soft synthetic or sable hair brush, size 8 or similar, any shape. ✓ Painting Medium. (Chroma Archival Oils Fat Medium or similar e.g. Liquin, M. Grahams Walnut Oil) 3. Wait for that layer to dry (give it a day or two until it’s not Note: View all materials used in the Mastering

sticky) and then do the same with orange, but moving

Sunsets course in your discounted online shopping

further away from the sun. Wipe back the edges if

list here:

necessary. If you’re too impatient to let this yellow dry first

www.masteringsunsets.com/materials

(like me) just go ahead and try to make smooth transitions between the yellow and orange. You can always brush the transition area very lightly with a soft sable brush to remove any brush strokes. Glazing several different colours works best when they are applied separately and allowed to dry properly because that way the paint mixes optically rather than chemically. Chemical (physical) mixing is more prone to creating muddy mixtures than glazing is. To learn about the classical masters technique of building a painting with seven individual layers click here.

1. Make a very thin mixture of yellow and painting medium on your palette.

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Here are a few great artists who have used the glazing technique to achieve beautiful glowing sunsets...

“Sunset over the River” by Albert Bierstadt All Content Copyright © 2014 Richard Robinson Studio. All Rights Reserved.

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“A Sunset Bay of New York” by Sanford Robinson Gifford

“Sunset” by Joseph Mallord William Turner

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Project 4 - Alla Prima

Colour Study” 10x8” Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

Glazing is definitely a great way to get your colors glowing, but for myself I prefer to not to have to wait that long for the paint to dry so I really love the immediacy of the Alla Prima technique, translated roughly from Italian as 'at once', otherwise known as wet in wet, technique. What I will do is a little bit of glazing on top of this alla prima painting ready at the end of the painting after it’s dry so we’ll get to see how the combination of the two techniques works. You can see at a glance that there are many differences between the colours in the painting and the colours in the photo.

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For instance I could have made the top of the sky more

Materials

purple-grey. As far as I’m concerned it doesn’t matter how close I get to the photo, so long as the painting stands by itself as a good painting. If I become a slave to the photo it cuts down on my enjoyment, and if I’m not enjoying it I stop painting, and then I certainly won’t get any better, so I have to make sure I’m painting with enough freedom that I continue to enjoy the process, which means there’s always this fine balancing act between copying and painting. As things move closer to the sun they take on more of the colour of the light. In this case the light is yellow, so everything gets lighter and more yellow closer to the sun. That’s the general idea but the tricky thing is figuring out how to make for instance, a blue cloud, turn gradually into yellow. What helps me do this is thinking of the colour wheel. How is that colour going to get from here to there? We’ve got a few options. It could go around to the right, or to the left, or straight through the middle. Now just looking at the photo it makes sense to me that blue is going to go through purple, red and orange in this painting to get to yellow.

✓ 10x8" Canvas Panel or similar ✓ Ultramarine Blue, Magenta, Cadmium Red Light, Cadmium Orange, Cadmium Yellow Light, Titanium White. ✓ Bristle gesso brush 1.5” (Blick Economy White Bristle Gesso Brush) ✓ Flat synthetic wash brush 1” (Robert Simmons Expression Flat Wash Glaze) ✓ Filbert synthetic brush size 4 (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert Long Handle #4) ✓ Liner brush size 2 (Golden Natural Liner #2) ✓ Painting Medium. (Chroma Archival Oils Lean Medium or similar e.g. Liquin, M. Grahams Walnut Oil) Resource photo or painting from life. Use your own photo or Figure 1. Get more at www.masteringsunsets.com/photos Note: View all materials used in the Mastering Sunsets course in your discounted online shopping list here: www.masteringsunsets.com/materials

Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint. It also pays to mix twice as much paint as you think you will need.

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Student Examples for Projects 3 & 4

"Almost Night" 8x10" Oil on Canvas by Roberta Murray Great glowing effect. Interesting details in the landscape. The three main clouds share a similar size, shape and spacing which makes them look less natural.

"Project 3" 7x7" Acrylic Glazing by Sharon Repple Dynamic design! Achieving a good glowing effect with punchy colour.

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"Fire in the Sky" 8x10" Oil on Board by Roena King Nice to see so much palette knife work creating a great shimmering paint texture. Beautiful organic cloud shapes. I like how the sun glow is eating away the landscape. The light grey swish in the middle of the dark cloud seems out of place.

"Sunset Part 3" 10x12" Oil on Board by Dorothy Debney Good glowing effect. Starting to form interesting cloud shapes although it looks like you're not quite sure yet how to transition a cloud from the light side to the dark side. If a cloud's light side is orange it's going to get slightly redder as it turns over to become more purple or blue on the shadow side. That's a gross generalisation but the point is that there is often a soft transition between the light side and the dark side of a thick cloud. Â

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"Algow in the East" 9x12" Oil on Canvas by Sharon Casavant A good glowing effect and good gradations of colour. The glowing effect in the land would have been more pronounced if you had gone more orange instead of green or grey with those areas close to the sun. Similarly the grey cloud obscuring the sun may have looked more dazzling painted a light warm rather than a cool. The strong blue and red on the right side might be more realistic greyed down a little.

"Dance of Colors" 5x5" Oil on Canvas by Pandalana Williams It's great that you've taken this to abstraction Pandalana. If that was your intention you succeeded beautifully, especially seeing that your usual work leans more to descriptive realism. Very exciting!

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"Sunset Over Castle Park " 22x24" Acrylic on Board by Pauline Le Merle Love the composition Pauline and all the interest in the sky which looks quite abstract - a beautiful counterpoint to the crisp realism in the landscape. I'd like to see you paint this alla prima as well to see what the difference would be.

"Sunset Alla Prima" 40x50cm Oil on Canvas by Elena Sokolova Very powerful colours there Elena and some beautiful shapes in the clouds which I know is not easy to achieve what with everything else you need to think about while painting a sunset like this. From a distance this works extremely well. Up close it looks a like you could have spent had a little more care with some of your brushwork.

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"Glazed Sunset" 10x13" Acrylics by Silvana M Albano Fantastic cloud shapes Silvana with a great sense of perspective. Good work.

Note: For more student work and to upload your own sunset paintings visit: www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

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Project 5 - The Glow

“Sunset Beach” 16x16” Oil on Canvas The previous project introduced us to the colours and the forms of a sunset. Now it's time to take those concepts a little further in a larger painting. I want to look a bit closer at the glowing effect of a sunset. The way objects close to the sun are infused with the warm light, also called a color corona. I also want us to have a look at how to add even more colour into the sunset foreground and see how that contrasts with what the camera does. As well, I want to show you how we can invent a scene from various resources and also how the larger canvas gives us more options for exciting brushwork. Thats all going to happen in this painting.

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Materials

Video Transcript

✓ 16 x16" Canvas primed for oil or acrylic.

This painting is a 16 inch square where the first one was a 10x8 inch, so that gives you some indication of the

✓ Phthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Primary Magenta,

scale. This scene doesn't actually exist because the sun

Pyrrole, Red Light, Permanent Orange, Primary Yellow,

never sets in this position. But I wanted to use this photo

Titanium White.

of my beach, Ruakaka Beach, as the foreground for a sunset painting. So how did I get this painting out of this

✓ Flat bristle brush 1”.

photo?

(Blick Economy White Bristle Gesso Brush). ✓ Liner brush #2. (Golden Natural Liner #2 Short Handle) ✓ Filbert Synthetic #6. (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #6 Long Handle) ✓ Filbert Synthetic #8. (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #8 Long Handle) ✓ Flat Synthetic Wash brush 1”. (Art Spectrum Series 700F Golden Taklon #10 or Robert Simmons Short Handle Sapphire Flat Wash 1”)

Photo: Sunset in my street

✓ Painting Medium: Walnut Oil Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting

“Pataua” Oil on Canvas 152 x 51cm by Richard Robinson

itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint. It also pays to mix twice as much paint as you think you will need. Note: View all materials used in the Mastering Sunsets course in your discounted online shopping list here: www.masteringsunsets.com/materials

Photo: Ruakaka Beach

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Well I could have just invented it all but, normally, it

to jump into your big studio painting. Just allow yourself

doesn't turn out very good if you do that. In fact, most

the creative space and time to build your painting one

great studio painters I know put as much time in

idea at a time. and just enjoy. You will find plenty of

gathering resources and making preparatory sketches in

resources in the lesson notes to work from but I do

paintings as they do in making the final painting.

encourage you to use your own material. For the moment let's just see how I painted this one.

So, I needed some reference for a sunset sky. I had this old photo I had taken just across the street from my house and also found this photo online and I was looking at the way I dealt with this sunset in an earlier painting of mine. (Pataua). I really liked the way the light was coming through the dune grasses in the foreground. This little plein air painting I had done on the spot also helped. So having all those resources in front of me, I sat down and did some sketches about what I thought I would like to see in this painting.

16 X 16 primed canvas, Stretched with masking tape, Toned with Beige Acrylic Gesso. There is my canvas all stretched and toned. I've given it a day to dry. And there is my palette of colours. And all my brushes. Now you can see on the left there thatI am using black and white reference photos. That is so I don't become a slave to the colour in the photos. I am going to start off here by making two piles of gray. One will be cool and one will be warm. I'll use these colours to subdue

So I chose the best of those and looked again at my

some of the brighter colours when I need to. A cooler mix

resources and painted these two 4.5 inch square studies.

is made from mainly white, then blue, lesser red; then a tiny bit of yellow. I am aiming for a mid-value half way between black and white. Now, the warm gray is made with red, blue, yellow and white but with much less blue in it. You can see these grays very obviously cool and warm. They could have been much closer to neutral gray. If you do make them more neutral you may end up with a slightly more

The one on the left was a little too vibrant for what I wanted and so I basically just grayed all the colors except for the yellow colors right around the sun in order to

neutral gray painting in the end. It all depends on how much you use these pre-mixed grays in your colour mixtures.

achieve the second painting on the right. So I was pretty happy with that and you can see it is not to dissimilar from the final painting. It took me about a day and a half to finish that whole design process. So don't be in a hurry

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Right from the start, I am thinking of the glowing area around the sun as an oval shape, rather than a circular shape, I am adding a little bit of orange to that yellow mixture and working out a little bit further from the sun. Now using more orange I can start to indicate some of the mountains in the distance there that would be lit up by a sunset if it did occur in that area. Now I can add a Premixed grays - cool and warm.

little bit of red as it gets further away from the sun.

I am going to try a technique which has been used by many artists down through the centuries. It is called "painting into the couch". It has absolutely nothing to do with the couch. It's coating the canvas with a very thin layer of painting medium. In this case, white. My painting medium is walnut oil. So I am going to add a bit of that to my Titanium white, mix it all together with a palette knife and spread it very, very thinly onto the canvas, where I am going to avoid putting it on at the bottom right corner of the painting where the darker land is going to go. It is very, very thin though, it is a very light scumble. If you put

I’m think of an oval glowing shape as I go.

it on thick, I am pretty sure it will ruin your painting. The

So, in general all the colours in the painting get cooler as

idea is that it helps the paint flow a little better on to the

they get further from the sun. In my palette of colours

canvas and that it helps with the lighter atmospheric

happens to be laid out in the same order, from warm to

properties of the sky.

cool. Just like the keys on the piano, if they are all in the right order, it is a lot easier to play. So more white added

So the first step, as with the previous project, is to start painting that sun glow. Now where do I want to put that?

to that orangey mix and moving out once again up into the sky. All the paint has gone on pretty thin at this stage

I could put it anywhere. I am going to start with the rule of

and we can put on the more impasto thick paint after the

thirds, so I am going to put it one third in from the right

initial block-in has been done and the whole canvas is

and one third up from the bottom.

covered with the major colors. Very thin coat of orange and red going on here to start establishing the glow in the foreground. I've still got that oval shape in mind. The warm gray that I mixed just happens to work very well as the next colour in the sky. So I start using that to start sketching in some of the clouds. How do I know what cloud shapes to paint? Well I am always trying to think of clouds as three dimensional objects rather than flat paper cut-outs. So as the clouds get closer to us and we look more up into the sky and we are seeing more of

Starting with the glowing area.

the base of the cloud and less of the side of the cloud. Colour wise the bases of the clouds move from warm to cool as they move away from the sun. The sides of the

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36

clouds do that as well but the sides of the clouds are a little bit cooler than the bases they are on. That is because the bases of the clouds are being lit directly by the sun.

The block-in continues, covering the canvas. As we get down to the middle of the clouds, here, I am, adding more of the warm gray to the cool gray. At this point, I am using a Robert Simmons, number 4, synthetic filbert brush. Now, with some red and blue and a little yellow and white, I am mixing a cool dark to block in the foreground with. Just warming and lightening that a little with orange as it gets closer to the sun. I thought it might be nice to have thee hills a little darker, maybe, some rain Cloud shapes and colours alter with linear perspective and atmospheric perspective. Of course the sky gets cooler away from the sun as well and up in this area I am going to lay down very thin pink , almost a wash, to start with before I go over it with blue so this area gets infused a little bit with the warmth of the sun as well. After a few attempts I got the blue mixed from mostly white and a tiny , tiny touch of pthalo blue.

over the side to help balance out all that sun on the right. Slightly cooler gray for the sand, which is all in shadow. This will be part of the rain graying down the colour of the ocean here. A blue, red and orange for a darker dark here. Softening that edge off with a paper towel. That is the block-in finished. Before I move on to the next part, I will get my soft nylon brush here and soften off some of the edges. Here comes the rain.

because it goes a long way, that colour, and then tiny additions of magenta, red and yellow, just to gray it down a little bit. It's about the same value as the clouds, just a little bit lighter at the moment, but you can see by the finished painting at the bottom left there that, in the end, I darkened the clouds a little and the sky is a little lighter by comparison. While I am working with blue I just added a little bit of blue and yellow to that to make it a little slightly darker and block in the ocean, there. The cool gray which I mixed before which is pretty blue, really, which is a good colour for darkening the clouds at the top of the painting

Soften some edges.

here. Soften that edge right off just mixing it into the sky colour. I don't want any hard edges leading off into a

So now I am going to start using a thicker paint with little

corner.

to no painting medium in it. I have mixed up a red, white and a little bit of orange to get that pinky colour here. And brushing it on very lightly. This is another synthetic brush.

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It is one of my favorite brushes and can give a nice variety of strokes, from very fat to very thin. (Art Spectrum Series 700F Golden Taklon #10) Adding a bit stronger yellow orange in there now. And working it up into the clouds a little bit as well. And adding the sun back in. So basically I am going over a lot of the lights in the clouds with a much thicker paint and adding a few more details as I do it. Adding some more pink , a bit more vibrancy to the sky, a little more white to the shadow sides of the clouds. Using the same colour for the hills in the distance. And starting to play with the idea of putting some detail further away there. Using a very light cool gray to paint what is called "rim lightening" at the top of the clouds here.

Using a palette knife for interesting texture. I don't know if you have seen me paint with an old credit card before. I got tired of dragging my knuckles through the paint, so I stuck it onto the end of an old brush. Thanks to Stuart Gourlay for the idea. It is good for smooshing paint around and giving it more textural interest. Or if you haven't got one of those, a big painting knife will do much the same thing.

Adding “Rim Lighting� Remember that higher up in the atmosphere there is less air and moisture and dust for the sun's light to travel through, so the light up there is generally, whiter. Using a nice long brush to put this on, but if I often find, if you want to get thicker impasto highlights, it is better to use a palette knife. The nice thing about a palette knife is, well,

Painting with a credit card brush. If you add some small details into the clouds with a little

it is a little bit easier to make a random organic texture

brush, it helps to give the whole scene scale. Just like

with it. But if you use a combination of the palette knife

adding a little person in a scene, it helps to give it scale.

and the brush, you've got the best of both worlds.

Paint back in with the sky colour to help define those shapes some more. Very easy to get too finicky with a small brush. The nice thing about this brush is you can apply it more heavily for a broader stroke. Really put the paint on very thickly and scoop it up with the brush and lay it down gently onto the canvas. If that is not enough grab the palette knife and trowel it on. If your cloud forms get too dense it is easy enough to put little sky holes into them. Here is where the wet sand is reflecting some of the orangey colour in the sky there. A few vertical strokes

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38

help to reinforce the idea that it is a reflection. Just

This is a mix of ultramarine blue, orange and a little bit of

playing with the colour of the sand in the shadow here,

red to create this very warm, greenish-brown colour for

again, making it a little bit cooler. I often find that when I

the foreground grasses. If you do mainly up-wards

cannot tell what the colour should be, it is probably closer

strokes it gives you a very soft finish to the top of the

to a neutral gray, so I end up, a lot of the time, mixing a

grass. Just softening and cooling this area off again. I

cool gray over a warm gray, or vice-versa, and that often

really want this to be a very atmospheric, mysterious part

ends up working well. High-lighting the tops of the Dune

of the painting.

grasses in the distance, there. As I keep trying to get the foreground right here, I do three things to help me. I step back 10 to 15 feet in the studio to see how it reads from back there. I also step out and have a cuppa and come back after five minutes and register my first impression in the first couple of seconds I see it. I also have a look at it in a mirror. That is a very, very good way to see if the painting or small area of the painting is reading correctly. Using a fine sable watercolour brush to add some details. Highlighting dune grasses with a large bristle brush and loads of paint.

Time for a couple of little seagulls on the beach. Very dark gray for the dark wings and their little reflections and a very light warm for their light sides.

And again, as you get closer to the sun, all the colour becomes much more like the sun colour,so, I am being

With a clean palette knife I'm just smooshing the paint to

very careful to keep all of the colours in this area very

give that edge a little more interest. A soft edge in the

similar. This foreground actually turned out being a lot

corner so your eye doesn't get taken out there. And a

harder than I expected it to be,and I spent quiet a long

soft edge way down the beach to help that recede into

time working back and forth from the lights to the darks

distance. The continuing saga of the foreground here, just

trying to create interesting form without over-simplifying

trying to get it to read right. And again, I am looking at my

things. I guess there is a lot going on in this small area so

older painting, of Pataua to see how I solved that

it is quiet a tricky part of the painting. Here, I am using a

particular problem. Just adding some juicy highlights to

thick bristle brush to try and simulate the texture of the

the bottom of the clouds now and remembering that they

grasses in the foreground. If an area starts to look to

get cooler as they get further from the sun. So they go

regular and predictable , then, hitting it with a palette

from yellow through orange through to pink.

knife is often a good cure for that. In the photo and in the original sketches and colour At this part of the painting, I wasn't really happy with the

studies, I had that big lamp post in the foreground here,

foreground and I had a look at my old Pataua painting. I

but in the end I couldn't bring myself to put it in. It just

thought, "That looks nicer, with the warmer foreground."

seemed to intrusive, so I just put in this little fence post

So I started pushing the colours in the foreground in that

instead with the dark gray and a light highlight.

direction. If you scrape an edge of paint on the palette knife, you can lay it off really thinly to create very crisp lines in the distance. Then dragging the paint off the flat face of the blade, creates more of a textured look.

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I’ve replaced the lamp post with a less intrusive fence post. Don’t be afraid to change from your original design - large paintings often have different needs than small paintings. Now, with some pthalo, some magenta and a bit of white, mixing up a slightly more vibrant purple to add to the clouds as they get higher up and take more of the dark

Viewing it in grayscale allows us to appreciate the importance of colour in this painting.

blue of the sky on and get some quite beautiful vibrant colours up there. I guess I could have made the cloud

So, there is the finished painting. It is all about the colour.

over the hill here a blue but I thought it would be more

I guess most sunset paintings are all about the colour.

interesting and balance the sun up a little if it were pink. A

And you can really tell that when you take the colour out

little seagull in the sky here, using a very fine brush for

and you can see it really doesn't look that appealing. You

that and signing it. The real fun part is taking the tape off.

can put the colour back in and it's like the sun is coming

The hard part is knowing when to stop. I just keep going

out. Beautiful! Okay, now it's time for you to get your

until I can't think of anything that would make it better.

paints out and give it a go. HAPPY PAINTING!

Actually, one thing I did do after I stopped filming was add a couple more darks to the foreground.

The finished painting.

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Student Examples for Project 5 "Sun Sinking, Dying Light, Winter" 30x30cm Oil on Board by Julie Cross A lovely painting Julie and it generated a lot of helpful suggestions from other members on the site which is great to see. I'll just repeat what Michael Severin said in that the hard line of the river bank could be softened by adding the reflection of the bank into the water which I thought was a good idea. I took the liberty of photoshopping your painting a little to see what that would look like and I also gradated the reflection of the sky in the water and added a slightly brighter colour corona around the sun and warmed and lightened the landscape in front of the sun to aid with the glowing effect. I also put the foreground into shadow which I feel makes the light reflection in the water more intense and provides a stronger base for the overall design.

The Original

Fiddled in Photoshop

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"Dors Workshop 26" 16x16" Pastel by Dorian Aronson Beautiful colours Dorian and a soft edged ethereal feeling to the whole painting. Great stuff!

"A Captive Audience" 12x16" Oil on Canvas by Michael J Severin Great work Michael as always. Fantastic glowing effect and a solid composition. I like the depth of colour you have in the top blue clouds and I've made a note to head in that direction with mine with glazing at the end of the month.

Note: For more student work and to upload your own sunset paintings visit: www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

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"Twilight Serenade" 11x14" Oil on Panel by Karen Meredith Really interesting work Karen (and I do mean that in a good way). Such a beautiful arrangement of colour especially all the broken colour in the ocean, it inspired me to have a look through your website www.karenmeredithart.com and I'm glad I did - love your work! My only reservation with this one is the colour and forms in the cloud arch over the sun because they seem to me to have gotten just a little muddied and not thoroughly finished unlike the rest of the work although that's to be expect in an intricate warm/cool light/dark area like that on a small painting. Love how you've used large to small brushwork in the water and softening in the foreground as well to give us some perspective. Beautiful work! Thank you. "Passages" 24 x 26" Oil by Luba Robinson That's quite some glowing sky you've got there! Very subtly painted colour transition from warms to cools. The intricacy and dark sharpness of the foreground is a nice counterpoint to the soft sky. It's easy to see all the work and thought that's gone into this - great to see. My one reservation would be that I would want slightly thinner, flatter bottomed clouds closer to the horizon to help with the linear perspective, and because the roof of the building is well above the horizon we should be able to see the underside as a very thin elliptical shape - that's why it's currently looking a little flat. Oh and you know how all the books say don't place things smack bang in the middle of your canvas vertically or horizontally? Well rules are made to be broken, right? Centering the sun as you have and having the sky fairly symmetrical is giving this piece a balance and radiance that reminds me of a meditation mandala. In fact I took the liberty of taking the idea further in Photoshop.

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43

Project 6 - Colour Harmony

“Rogue Wave” 12x12” Oil on Canvas A colourful sunset tempts the artist like nothing else to cover the canvas in all the vibrant colours they can get their hands on. It's very hard to resist all that colour, and that's why amongst artists at least, sunset paintings have something of bad reputation for being too gaudy and commercial. Beauty, as always, is in the eye of the beholder. Some people simply prefer lots of vibrant colours together in a painting, whereas some prefer a slightly more subdued colour scheme. I personally find that a painting containing a good amount of fairly gray colour makes a beautiful stage for more vibrant colours to work upon. What's a good way to achieve that in a sunset painting? Sunsets themselves give us a big clue they create strong colour complements. Yellow and violet for instance. If we were to use a complementary colour scheme like that in a sunset painting it would make it easier for us in a number of ways:

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1. All colour harmonies are based on excluding some part of the colour wheel (just as playing every note on a piano at once doesn't produce a nice sound, so can too many colours produce a visual cacophony). A two colour complementary scheme excludes much of the colour wheel so it makes a simple colour harmony easily achievable. 2. Mixing complements together often creates a beautiful chromatic (colourful) gray, which is perfect for use within that same complementary scheme. 3. Simplifying our palette makes colour choices much easier and greatly reduces the chance of muddy colour, which is just a grayed colour in the wrong place in a painting. In the demo video we look at using the Gamut Mask tool to help us develop a simple colour scheme and then we mix colour strings on our palette to use that colour scheme in the painting. We also look at the special effects created when light and water interact and what special brushwork techniques we can use in a scene like this. Feel free to follow me step by step in painting the same scene or use the photos below or your own resources to design a piece that is more your own. You can paint this any size or shape you like using any medium. Happy painting!

Materials ✓ Flat Synthetic Wash brush 1”. ✓ The Gamut Mask Tool (click here).

(Art Spectrum Series 700F Golden Taklon #10 or Robert Simmons Short Handle Sapphire Flat Wash 1”)

✓ 12 x12" Canvas primed for oil or acrylic. ✓ Ultramarine Blue, Pyrrole Red Light (or Cadmium Red), Magenta (or Alizarine Crimson), Yellow Ochre, Bright Orange, Primary Yellow (or Cadmium Yellow Light or Lemon Yellow), Titanium White. ✓ Flat bristle brush 1”. (Blick Economy White Bristle Gesso Brush). ✓ Liner brush #2. (Golden Natural Liner #2 Short Handle) ✓ Filbert Synthetic #6. (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #6 Long Handle) ✓ Filbert Synthetic #8.

✓ Painting Medium: Walnut Oil Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint. It also pays to mix twice as much paint as you think you will need. Note: View all materials used in the Mastering Sunsets course in your discounted online shopping list here: www.masteringsunsets.com/materials

(Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #8 Long Handle)

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http://www.morguefile.com/archive/display/616959

Photo by Li Newton http://paintmyphoto.ning.com/photo/crashing-waves

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46

Ivan Aivazovsky, "The Ninth Wave", 1850

The Tintagel Coast, Cornwall, England, circa 1886-1888 William Trost Richards (American, 1833–1905)

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”Rocky Surf Off Rhode Island” Oil on Canvas -c1899 46 x 86.5 cm William Trost Richards (1833-1905)

Garrapata, California, USA

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Video Transcript

What else could we use? Blue and orange. Red and Green. Maybe yellow-orange and blue-violet. Let's try a

In this project we're going to be looking at colour harmony and to do that we're going to be using the Gamut Mask Tool. That's going to lead us to colour strings and while we're actually painting the painting we're going to be looking at how light and water interact and what special effects that creates and of course going to be also looking at what sort of brush work we can use to enhance a scene like this one. A colourful sunset tempts the artist like nothing else to cover the canvas in all the vibrant colours they can get their hands on. It's very hard to resist all that colour, that's why amongst artists at least,sunset paintings have something of a bad reputation for being too gaudy and

few of those, but first of all we need a subject to try the colour out on. I chose Garrapata for this because at the end of my painting session there, the sun was setting and it turned out to have some really spectacular colour in it, but I didn't get to capture that in the painting, because of course I had started three hours earlier. So I only had my memory and few photos to go from. I was painting right on the waters edge there and I was little bit worried because my Californian friend had told me all about the rogue waves that keep taking artists out to sea there and so I was a bit worried and so I thought it only fitting that I should paint a rogue wave in this place with the sun setting behind it.

commercial. Beauty, as always, is in the eye of the beholder. Some people simply prefer a lot of vibrant colours together in their painting. Whereas some prefer a slightly more subdued colour scheme. I personally find that a painting that contains a good amount of fairly grey colour makes a beautiful stage for more vibrant colours to work upon. So what's a good way to achieve that in a sunset

Thumbnail sketches help develop ideas.

painting? Well, sunsets themselves give us a big clue, they create strong colour compliments. Yellow and violet for instance. If we were to use a complimentary colour scheme like that in a sunset painting it would make it a lot easier to create a simple colour harmony.

Sunsets suggest complementary colour schemes

Value studies help to further develop the design. (5x5�)

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So I did some thumbnail sketches, working on some

ultramarine blue, in order to darken that yellow ochre

design ideas. Then did a small value study, working out

down.

some of the details. Then I used the Gamut Mask Tool to map out two different complimentary colour schemes.

Now I added the red because I didn't want the colour to

The first one was blue-violet and yellow-orange. The

go to grey as it moved into the dark. Now I do the same

second one was blue-green and red-orange. I knew I

again but this time I add more dark blue-violet and more

wanted a moderately vibrant look to the finished painting

red to make this colour darker still, so it's the same value

so I reduced the chroma by about a third. That adds

as the dark blue-violet. And then I clean off that palette,

more grey into the colour scheme.

and just add white to the yellow ochre and white again to get my last two lighter values.

So how do I get that colour scheme onto my palette? Well I start with the easiest colour. The grey-yellow-

So next using just those colours and white, I did a small

orange at the top looks exactly like yellow ochre. So I just

five and a half inch square colour study based on the

put that down. For the blue-violet I use ultramarine blue,

sketches I had done previously. Now I was pretty happy

little bit of pyrrole red and a little bit of magenta. To grey it

with that already, but for interest sake I mixed up a whole

down I just add a little bit of yellow ochre.

other set of colour strings based on red-orange, bluegreen and this is the little colour study that came from that. I decided from there just to go with the yellow-orange, blue-violet colour scheme. But I encourage you to do more than two colour studies if you find you have the patience to do that. Because you'll learn more about colour and value each time you try a different colour scheme, and especially how easy it is to grey down a colour by adding its compliment. The next step is taking

Using the gamut mask tool to create colour strings. Now starting from there I'm going to mix what's called a colour string of five values. So I've just added white to that to get a lighter value and then add white again to get the next step, which should be something like a mid grey in value and then I do that twice more so that I end up with five steps from nearly black to nearly white.

that little colour study through to a full blown painting, and that's what I'll take you through step by step next. So I've got my canvas stretched and ready to go, and I'm just going to tone it with yellow ochre, and because I'm using water mixable oils, I'm using a lot of water with this. You do the same with acrylics but if you're using standard oils, you'd just be using your odourless solvents or turps, something like that.

Now I need to do the same thing with yellow ochre so that I end up with two colour strings of equal value. But there's a problem because pure yellow ochre is a mid value, rather than a dark value, so I can't start with the yellow ochre. So I move the yellow ochre to the mid value range, where it belongs and I add a little bit of the dark blue-violet and a little bit of red and a little bit of

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objects need to have variety as well. So variety is the main thing that I'm thinking of when I'm doing the sketch.

Toning the canvas with acrylic. Then with a lint free paper towel, just going to wipe that whole thing down until there's hardly any left. And next I

The completed sketch. Shape variation is the key.

have to mix up my two colour strings again, making sure I've got plenty of paints. So big piles of paint. In the little

So I'll take a larger brush, dip it in the walnut oil and start

pot down the bottom there I've got walnut oil as my

with the darks. So my plan is to move from the darks

painting medium, and these are the brushes I'm using. A

through the mid tones to the lights, and lets see if we

range of sizes.

stick to that, through the whole painting. These darks are going to go on a bit thinner, so that means they have a bit

So, on the left there I've got the black and white study at

more walnut oil or painting medium in them than the

the top, the colour study and then the finished painting

lights, which will go on thicker and juicier later on.

down the bottom. I'm starting the sketch in with yellow ochre and a small brush. I start off with the top of the

At the same time I'll paint in the reflections for those rocks

wave. I'm just angling it down slightly, which means that

and they will get painted over with other colours later on.

the top of the wave is slightly over head, because the

I'm also adding some of the dark blue-violet into those

horizon will be a straight line, just below that.

rocks as well, so it's not all the same colour. While I'm at it I'll just add a little bit of the next lightest colour and use

And this is the top of the next wave, which is below eye

that for the really dark shadowy area at the base of the

level so it's angling up towards the horizon, or eye level.

wave here.

And that's my glowing area there and the sun will go directly above that. Now I've put the rocks in and these

Then I'll add a little yellow ochre to that, just varying the

and the sun and the sky and the wave, they're all going to

colour and continue painting some dark shadowy water

reflect to some degree into the water below and into the

areas. And I will paint back into these areas with the next

wet sand in the foreground.

lightest value so I'm painting these areas further than what I need them. Now I've added a lot more yellow

So what I've tried to do in the design is to make a lot of

ochre and starting to work some colour into the face of

the major lines lead the eye back to that glowing spot in

that wave. So I'll build up this glowing area very gradually.

the wave, which is the centre of focus. What I'm also careful to try and do is give everything variety so the

Here I'm just using pure yellow ochre. And a little darker

rocks will be a different size and shape and angle, and

version for the next gap in the wave. And with that I also

the wave forms will all be slightly different. And not just

start building the glow in the smaller wave face in the mid

the objects themselves but the spacing between the

ground. Next I use some of the mid value blue-violet for the foam in shadow. Remember this whole wave is like a

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wall that's blocking the light, but allowing some of it

sky's getting warmer and lighter around the sun. And the

through in the thinner sections of water. So all of the foam

sun itself I paint in with very nearly just pure white. It's got

that's on this side of the wall is in shadow.

a little touch of yellow ochre in it.

I'm staring to put in some of the rock there, with yellow

Some of the clouds can start to be suggested with a

ochre. I'm just going to paint a glowing area in the rock

cooler grey. And it's really nice how that shimmers next to

here so the front of the rock is going to be very very warm

the warm grey, cause it's the same value. But then I did

and light and it's going to hopefully merge in with the

darken it just a touch and the cloud also gets warmer as

glowing area around the sun and that will give that sun

it gets closer to the sun. Now with a very light warm

the real appearance of being a very strong light source.

mixture and quite thick paint I block in some of the foam

Now the foam in shadow down this end of the wave is

spray coming off the top of that wave. Then I work a

going to be a little bit darker because it's further away

slightly grayer version of that into the background as well,

from the sun and I'm going to use that same colour to

just a soft mist coming off the top of the wave.

start suggesting a cliff way in the background, obscured by atmosphere. Also add a little of that colour to the darkest brown to start suggesting the right hand side of the rock as it reflects those cooler colours away in the distance. And again using that same colour as the basis of the foam and water in the foreground. Lightening it a little as it gets closer to the area where the sun will be reflected. Starting to paint that stronger reflection in the wet sand now, with yellow ochre. And if you do this all with vertical strokes and then just finish off with a few horizontals, it'll really give the nice appearance of the wet sand reflecting the sky. And just like the sky in the background it's reflecting against darker and cooler, the further away it gets from the sun. The sand itself is just a warm grey. I know I want this distant cliff to merge with the sun glow in the

The completed block-in. So at this stage of the painting we've really finished the block-in. Most of the canvas is covered and the rest is the icing on the cake or the details. One of those details is this shadow line across the top of the wave. Because the sun's behind the wave, the light has more water to travel through as the wave curls over towards us at the top.

background and the sky, so I mix a cool and a warm together, which makes a warm grey, which is slightly lighter than the blue-violet grey, which is already down there. Then I go slightly lighter and warmer again to paint the sky in behind it.

Of course there's not one wave in the ocean which is the same as another wave. But I'm just trying to make use of principles, which will make sense of this wave in this particular lighting situation. So I know for instance that when the foam comes over to the front of the wave it's

Now I really want all these elements to stay well back there in the background and let the rock and the splash be the centre of focus. So the closer I get these values to each other and the more analogous the colours, like the closer they are together on the colour wheel, the better,

going to be in shadow and there'll be light across the top of it. Now I've actually just extended the colour scheme a little bit, I've added primary yellow or cadmium yellow to the

because they'll all just sink back there nicely. And the

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palette there, and I'm just using that for the very intense

I've paved the way for this bright reflection in the wet

colour corona area directly around the sun, and I'll also

sand there by getting lighter and warmer as it gets closer

use that later in the reflection of that sun in the wet sand,

to this narrow column of light and it's pretty important

and to intensify the glowing area in the wave just a little

that that is directly vertically in line with the sun. If that

bit.

reflection isn't directly in line, if it curves away, what that's telling our brain, is that that reflective surface is actually a

Just decided to give this foam some more interest by

curved surface.

adding some of the smooth curling water in there, instead of having it all foam. And this is the start of some

So all these strong reflections of the sun, actually they

highlights on the rocks here. Remember this is wet rocks,

peter out to the left and right, and so if you just keep

so it's reflecting that sunlight really well.

brushing out to the right the paint runs out and that naturally creates this gradation of colour from strong

Now I've just darkened it a little bit as it gets further away

reflected light to very little reflected light. It's often a good

from the sun. Trying to get this light paint on as thick as I

idea to break the reflections of rocks with little ripples of

can here and by just grazing it lightly across the surface

light or dark like this which run right through the reflection

you end up with that nice speckled texture, which you

and what that does is it tells the brain that, that's a

don't get if you press firmly, you just get a big smooth

reflective surface because obviously these little ripples

mark.

don't run through the air in front of a rock, so, oh this must be a reflective surface. So it's giving a hint to the

So the water out here in front of the wave is reflecting that

viewer as to what exactly they're looking at.

sun really strongly and crisply, so I'm getting nice thick paint down there, but inside the wave, it's actually reflecting that beautiful glowing colour, so I'm using yellow ochre and adding a little bit of the bright yellow as we get closer into the curl there. Just staring to experiment with adding some foam crawling up the wave here. Time for a little bit of softening with this very nice soft synthetic brush, very lightly brushing it over the top. So just vertically blurring these little shapes in the foam here, just going to help with the illusion of movement.

It’s very important to get the reflections vertically in line with their origins.

I'm moving to a different colour area so really important to

Using a palette knife to help smooth out this reflection

keep that brush as clean as you can. I'm just trying to

can help as well. I'm using a mid to dark blue-grey to

build some highlighted spray coming off the back of the

suggest some cooler reflected light on the shadow sides

wave here. I've extended the colour scheme again a little

of the rocks helps define their form. And a little layer of

bit here, just by adding pyrrole red or cadmium red into

water on top, dribbling down, catching the light. I'll just

the palette and I'm putting it here because I know there's

simplify this area back here with a dark grayish-green.

going to be a very bright reflection on the edge of this

And add a few dark accents into the rocks.

rock and wanted to have some strong colour there in the rock indicating that a glowing effect is happening there as well.

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Quite a lot of softening to be done in this area up here. I

Now it's about time some seagulls landed on the beach I

really want this to sit back in space. So with that done I'm

think and the tricky part of painting dark into light like this

ready to put a few faint highlights on the tops of these

is of course is doing it in very few brush strokes, so that

cliffs, and the front of the rock faces. It's very hard to tell

you don't go back and muddy up what you've just put

but I made the fronts of the cliffs a little tiny bit oranger

down. A little bit of warm light on his side. And a soft dark

than the tops of the cliffs. And that's why I added that tiny

vertical reflection. And a faint cast shadow across the

bit of orange to my palette. I'm just adding a vey strong

sand. And some shells or little rocks. And if you put them

bit of colour, just to the very middle of that glowing area,

in the strong sun glow area, they have to take on some of

directly under the sun, making that wave look really

that colour, they get lighter and warmer.

translucent. Now that sky's glowing pretty well now but I need to match up the reflection in the foreground sand, so it needs to get a little bit lighter. Now we can get a nice shimmering effect in the sky up here if we add a cool grey, against the warm grey, which is the same value. While I'm doing that I can reshape these cliffs a little bit. Just darkening this cliff a little bit will bring it forward a little bit from the one behind it, and create a bit more space.

The distant cliffs are downplayed to give more focus to the foreground. And again adding a slightly cooler grey to the sky and that lessens of course as it gets closer to the sun, so what that does is makes the sun all the more lighter and brighter and warmer by comparison. A few little light snippets of clouds adds a little bit of interest. With these really thick highlights I want the paint to really just drag off onto the painting, I don't want the bristles of the brush to

Using a rigger brush for some finer detail along the tops of the waves.

A couple of seagulls and some indications of pebbles and shells give the scene a better sense of scale. A little more cool reflected light helping to shape this rock some more. And just a few more sparkly bits. Finish it off with your famous signature. Nearly finished. There we go, all done. It might be time for those seagulls to move eh? I know what it is time for. Time for you to get your brushes out. Happy painting.

touch the painting, only the paint to get dragged off.

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Student Examples for Project 6 "Rogue Wave 2" 18x24" Oil on Canvas by Jim Delk Good work Jim, you've really captured the translucency of the wave and the reflections in the wet sand all while staying within the yellow orange/blue violet complementary colour scheme. Your rocks are solidly rendered for the most part with well described light and shade planes. A couple of things I would change would be to remove the darker smudges close to the sun which spoil the glowing effect, to add a little more detail to the face of the secondary wave in the midground and the highlighting of the water just behind it. Also there is a light patch in the shadow side of the main rock which doesn't seem to belong there. Other than that it's all good.

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"Rogue Wave 2" 12x12" Oil on Canvas by Jennifer Cruden (Jen Stone) Hi Jennifer, you did a really nice job with this colour scheme - not an easy one to get right and quite a brain bender at times. I especially like the splatters you made in the crashing foam - a nice touch and not overdone. I can't see anything I would change. Great work!

"California Coast 2" Oil by Karlo Bonacic Nice one Karlo! Good design, well balanced and a nice overall spotlight effect helping us focus on the centre of interest. The yellow sky works really well and you've toned the hills in with that nicely giving convincing atmospheric perspective and the soft edge on those is helping a lot too. For contrast I'd like to see the top edges of the main rocks made a little sharper against the sky. Your brushwork is really exciting and it's great to see you've made good use of the palette knife to indicate all the intricately detailed foam. Beautiful painting! All Content Copyright Š 2014 Richard Robinson Studio. All Rights Reserved.

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"Breaking Free" 16x9" Oil on Canvas by Carolyn Brunsdon Congratulations for taking the leap and composing a scene from 3 different photos with this painting Carolyn. You've certainly expressed the awesome energy of pounding breakers in this piece and have done well using the red orange/blue green colour scheme too. Love the peachy sky.

The Original

The Altered Version

I've taken the liberty of trying out a few changes in photoshop here. I darkened the sky except for an oval section above the wave and I also darkened the foam burst on the far right. Then I added a little more warmth (orange) to the foam from the main wave (for sunlight) and lightened the central foam and reflected that light a little in the foreground water. Just a few subtle changes to help focus the attention on the central wave.

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"Morro Rogue" 11 x 14" Oil on Canvas by Nancy Sands Great to see you working from your own resource photo on this one Nancy. Morro looks like a great place to paint. I like the action of the wave and the movement in the sky, the balance of warm and cool colour and the glowing effect of the sun. Here are some things I'd personally look at changing: 1. The gradation of colour in the face of the wave. The warm light of the sun wouldn't penetrate so strongly lower down so it should get gradually darker and cooler there. 2. Be more mindful of the shadow side of your wave so that all foam on this side of the wave is in shadow. 3. Change one of the two foreground rocks on the left so that neither is the same shape and size as the other. At the moment they are reflected twins. You could always join them together too. I hope that helps. Note: For more student work and to upload your own sunset paintings visit: www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

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Project 7 - Plein Air!

Plein air painting on the West Coast of New Zealand

So far we've painted sunsets from photos, which is good training, but the camera has its limitations. If you want to be able to paint sunsets with more life in them, you're going to have to get out there and paint the real thing. It can be hugely daunting, but you'll find that it's really worth the effort. You'll only have about half an hour to complete your painting, so it's not going to be very fancy, but with it you can capture colour information that a camera can't record. Even if you didn't manage to succeed in your painting your brain will have spent 30 minutes absorbing plenty of information and you'll start to be able to see the true difference between what a camera sees and what the human eye sees. Then you'll be ready to apply that knowledge in a studio painting, taking your work to the next level.

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If you honestly just can't paint outside for some reason

Materials

you can always paint along with me in the demo video, but this time I'm really challenging you to take a bold step and get out there painting. The challenge is to paint one or more sunsets from life outdoors, quite small, then to take that back to the studio and paint a larger version, making changes where you see fit. GOOD LUCK! Paint better than a camera You can see in the photos below that cameras have real trouble capturing the colours in the bright sky and the darker colours in the shadows at the same time. To capture the first image I centred the camera on the sun and half pressed the button to focus the camera on that (with all settings on auto). Then I clicked the button fully to take the shot. To capture the second shot I focused the camera on the shadowed hills, then kept my finger half pressed on the button as I turned back to point at the sun, and took the photo. So the first image is exposed for the sun and the second is exposed for the hillside. As painters we can do better - we can paint both exposures in the same image, as I did in the painting above.

✓ Small Canvas primed for oil or acrylic. ✓ Pthalo Blue, Ultramarine Blue, Pyrrole Red Light (or Cadmium Red), Magenta (or Alizarine Crimson), Yellow Ochre, Bright Orange, Primary Yellow (or Cadmium Yellow Light or Lemon Yellow), Titanium White. ✓ Flat bristle brush 1”. (Blick Economy White Bristle Gesso Brush). ✓ Liner brush #2. (Golden Natural Liner #2 Short Handle) ✓ Filbert Synthetic #6. (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #6 Long Handle) ✓ Filbert Synthetic #8. (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #8 Long Handle) ✓ Flat Synthetic Wash brush 1”. (Art Spectrum Series 700F Golden Taklon #10 or Robert Simmons Short Handle Sapphire Flat Wash 1”) ✓ Painting Medium: Walnut Oil ✓ Easel with legs ✓ Paper Towels ✓ Plastic rubbish bag ✓ Wide brimmed hat

Photo exposed for the sky.

✓ Camera Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to

Photo exposed for the foreground.

spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint. It also pays to mix twice as much paint as you think you will need. Note: View your discounted online shopping list here: www.masteringsunsets.com/materials

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Video Transcript

colour study. I'm not interested in the finished painting, just interested in finding out what colours I'm seeing.

In the previous projects we've painted sunsets from photos, which is good training but the camera has its limitations. If you want to be able to paint sunsets with more life in them, you're going to have to get out there and paint the real thing. Now it can be hugely daunting but you'll find that it's really worth the effort. Now you'll only have about half an hour to complete your painting. So it's not going to be very flash, but with it you can capture colour information that a camera can't record and even if you didn't manage to succeed in your painting your brain would have spent 30 minutes absorbing plenty of information and you'll start to be able to see the true difference between what a camera sees and what the human eye sees. Then you'll be ready to apply that knowledge in a studio painting taking your work to the next level. Now because you'll have such a brief time to paint the sunset from life the key to your success is going to be preparation. Here's how I set up for plein air work.

That big backing board may seem like overkill but the reason for it is to stop light entering your eyes from behind the easel and behind the canvas. Now you don't see the benefit of it here because we have a dark background with that black sand but if you had a very light background behind your easel you'd find that the pupils of your eyes close down to protect your retinas which makes the scene a lot darker and you'd find it very hard to see the colours that you're actually painting with. So I always set up the easel against the darkest background possible and I also always turn the easel so that the canvas is in the shade. If you paint with your canvas in the sunlight your painting will end up much darker than you want it to. Something else you've got to have is paper towels ready to go, flattened off so they wont roll off in the wind and a plastic bag ready to put those dirty paper towels into. And so that you don't have to keep shielding your eyes with your hand a wide brimmed hat is a really good idea. Before you really start your painting, you've probably been there about an hour already, just setting up and trying out different compositions, taking photos and so something you can do before you actually start painting the sunset is to sketch out the composition that you're happy with.

My plein air setup. I've got a standard French box easel made by Mabef with all my gear in it ready to go. Got my colours and brushes a palette knife and a little pottle filled with walnut oil and a little mirror there as well I've got a big panel of MDF or hardboard which my canvas is taped onto and the palette is on there as well, clipped on so it doesn't blow away, and you'll notice that I've got a very small canvas

Save precious minutes and sketch out your composition before the sun gets in the position you want it.

because I've got such limited time. This is really just a

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The simpler you keep the composition the better, it's a really good idea to figure out exactly what time the sun will set, so you know how long you've got to do your

I mean you'll be squinting anyway because you're looking

painting. If you don't already know that a Google search

into the sun, but if you're not used to doing this, how

will tell you.

about writing yourself a note that says 'Squint' and stick it to your easel where you can't miss it. Of course because the light on my canvas was getting darker and darker, the painting itself came out a little lighter than I would've hoped and the only way to overcome that if you're painting at this time on night is to light your canvas with a clip on led light. I've even seen some that can clip onto the front of your cap or a headlamp would do to. Even though I'm painting as fast as I can and it's a very small painting, by the time I was finished the sun had sunk below the horizon and it was a completely different

Another handy trick to know, is that with your arm out

scene.

straight in front of you, for the sun to travel the width of

Time to take it back to the studio and compare the

your hand takes about an hour. Despite the poor lighting

painting with the photos and see what I might like to

at this time of the evening I did manage to record the painting coming together and I've edited it down from 22 minutes painting time to 2.5 minutes video time.

change for the larger studio version. Well I like the basic design and that striking orange speaking of the power of the light but I'd like to subdue that just a bit and make the shadows on the left slightly darker and add a few more

The first thing I notice looking up from my blank canvas into the sun was just how powerful that light was. So much so I could barely stand to look at it so I just kept

details like a little figure on the beach to give the scene a sense of scale.

stealing brief glimpses of it and I saw this vibrant orange colour and the corona that was flaring across the rock. Those were the 2 things I was trying to get down in this painting, the power of the light and the vibrancy of the colour.

You can see that I started with the glowing effect around the sun and worked outwards from there, moving from yellow through orange and red to dark browns. If you don't follow some sort of logical system like that , you'll be very much more likely to run out of time. So it pays to make a plan like that from the start and stick to it when the adrenalin kicks in. Squinting at the scene to simplify it is vitally important when you're painting fast like this outdoors, so that you don't get confused by all the detail.

Toning the canvas in acrylics. Leave to dry for several hours. So I start off by toning the canvas with acrylic using yellow, orange and red to help create the big glowing effect which is what this whole painting is really about. I just estimate where the sun is going to be and work

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outwards from there, working very quickly so the paint

there because this hillside is predominantly a dark green,

can blend together.

and although it's very hard to see the colour in the shadows there, I know that it is green, so I'm just adding

Now I just wipe it all around with a paper towel to give it a

in that dull yellow to push it towards green.

more random texture. And lots of fun with a rag. It actually reminds me of a Turner at this point although

So those are the shadows and for the lights on top I'm

mine's not quite as good. Turner used lots of glazes over

going slightly greener and slightly lighter again. The

textured impasto paint to achieve his glowing sunsets.

interesting thing is that even tho it looks fairly green, if you

Very Nice.

isolate it on a white background you see that it's actually still just brown. The reason that it looks green is because I

Now I leave that to dry over night and then start in with

pushed it towards green and it's surrounded by a very

the oil paints the next day. So these are the brushes I'm

warn colour. That's why I'm always saying it's the

using. A range of sizes and this is my palette of colours.

relationship of one colour next to another colour which is

Now for the sky and the main glowing area I'm going to

important. It's not the colour itself.

paint into a couch as we did before, by laying down a very thin mixture of yellow, white and walnut oil. From there on in I can use less oil in my mixtures because there's enough in the couch. So I start off in the area around the sun or the corona with pure yellow. Remembering to work down into the reflection as well. Then I add a touch of orange and red to that mixture so that it's just very slightly darker in value and move outwards from the corona. Then I add a touch of blue and red and white to that and again so it's just slightly darker than that previous colour and move outwards again. So it's getting cooler and darker. Now straight into the rocks with pure orange.

Using the palette knife on the flat for interesting texture. I'm just using the palette knife very lightly across the top of the surface here to try and get some of that broken surface of the grass, that broken texture. And as the grass gets closer to the sun there on the edge, I've made it slightly warmer by adding a little bit of yellow and orange, tiny touch of white to it as well. Now I'm building a lot of texture in the hill there but a place where we don't really need texture is this corona area, the glowing area of the sun, that's really quite a smooth transition. So I'm just using the brush there to blend that across. Just restating some of the darks now.

Working outwards from the sun in oils, getting darker and cooler.

Always keeping in mind that they get cooler and darker the further they are from the sun. Again for reflections in very still water, just try and use vertical or horizontal

And working out from there adding red incrementally and then eventually adding blue which turns it to dark brown.

strokes.

I'm just adding a touch of yellow ochre into the mixture

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Try and avoid any diagonal strokes, which will break the

What I thought I'd try here is taking a slightly cooler

surface of the water. Just felt like this hillside needed a

mixture, but exactly the same value as the bright yellow

little more interest in it. So I'm just adding some highlights

that's down there and applying that over the top to

and trying not to go overboard. Which it's very easy to do

simulate something of what happens in the eye when we

with highlights. What happens above must happen below.

look at the bright sun. So that's before and after. There's a little figure going in. Now to start with I made him too small, so I checked the photo and looked where his head was in comparison to the horizon and that always helps.

Use vertical strokes in calm water. Although I've mixed quite a pinkish grey for the ocean here, it's surprising how blue that looks surrounded by all that very warm colour. So if you really want your colour to be unified and read correctly, you have to keep thinking about what's the dominant colour in this area and try and keep your mixtures in keeping with that dominant colour, and test, keep testing on the canvas just a little bit before you commit yourself.

‘Crepuscular Rays’ extend radially from the sun. I thought I'd just put in a wee crepuscular ray here, which I don't think is a very good name for it, sunray sounds a lot better and the only thing you have to be careful with is to have the edges of it radiating out from the centre of the sun, Which quite clearly I haven't done very well at all. A few little touch ups, thought it could do with some more punchy colour in the shadowed area here, so I've got pretty much pure red, using it for a couple of highlights on the rocks and a little bit of grass. And I'm done.

Thick paint for bright highlights. This is just about pure white here with a little bit of the bright yellow in it and very thickly applied. Have to make sure that if it's still water, that reflection is perfectly in line

The finished painting with figure included.

vertically with the sun. Adding back in some bright yellow around the edges of that for the reflection of the corona.

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So again this project is really about getting out there plein air painting, bringing that information back to the studio, and deciding yourself what changes you'd like to make in a larger painting. So this is really the biggest key to be able to paint beautiful sunset paintings and I really hope you'll take this challenge and get out there with your paints and give it a go and don't be too discouraged by your first attempts. They're bound to be pretty bad because it is really tough painting to that sort of a deadline. But they're only going to get better and each painting gets you better. So good luck with it, all the best. Happy painting.

"West Coast - Plein Air" 5 x 13" Oil on Canvas

"West Coast - Studio" 9 x 22" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

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Student Examples from Project 7 "Karaka Bay Sunset" 42cm x 30cm Watercolour on Paper by Bob Mitchener. Great painting Bob - nice to see you back in the workshop again. This is an interesting triangular design with the eye being led from the sun to the foreground to the boat and back to the sun - finely balanced with your signature. Perhaps a subtle hint of a few rocks under the water would have been good in the foreground too. But you can always add. Subtracting and simplifying things as you've done is the tricky part which you've done so well in this painting. I wondered what it might have looked like with a darker foreground so I took the liberty of trying that in photoshop. I don't think it's better, just another option. Your drawing of the boat is spot on too, which is the key to the whole painting. Beautiful!

With the foreground darkened in photoshop.

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"Sunset on Union Road, Goderich, On Canada" 14 x 18" Oil on Canvas by Gina Dalkin-Davis Hi Gina, I'm taking from your comments that this work was done in the studio and yet it does have some of the bold brushwork common to plein air work. Rather than write screeds about this I've done a little photoshop work to illustrate some changes I might have made. 1. Increased the tonal range - making the darks in the foreground darker and lightening the sun and highlights. 2. Introduced more of the sun's colour in the background elements thereby losing some of the muddy no-descript colour back there. 3. Darkened the foreground slightly to help with the composition a the glowing effect.

Fiddled in Photoshop

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"75 Bridgeman RD sunset_v2" 11 x 14" Oil on Canvas by Laura Xu Laura I read through all the comments the others made on this painting and can't agree more with Michael J. Severin's comments which I'll quote here for the benefit of others: "Looking much better. The sky is looking good.  I would still like to see the edges of your tree reflections much less sharp.  Also, where the bright sun reflections meet the tree reflections ..it is much too abrupt.  Soften that edges with a warmer yellow and progress into orange as it meets the tree reflection. The other side of the tree reflection, take a brush and go right down the left edge of the tree reflection so it blends into the light part of the water.   Your edges of the foreground tree reflections are also much to sharp.   Laura, don't be timid here, just go for it on those edges.  The value of your background trees is very, very well handled!!  I love the shaft of light on the green grass.  Near the ends of your tree reflections, introduce a little of the blue/violet ..it is picking up some reflection from the sky above.  Always think ...gradation in your elements.   Now, if you insist on putting those tree trunks in on the bank, they must show a reflection.  To summarize:  Concentrate on your EDGES and GRADATION of your tree reflections." - Michael J. Severin I would also add that the thin strip of dark land at the base of the painting seems to be an afterthought - it might be better to just continue on with the water. Also the branch stretching out from the big tree seems to follow and hide the line of the bank which makes us question whether it is part of the tree or growing from the bank. Better to move the branch to allow for some distinction there. It's exciting to see the variety of brushwork you've employed and overall the colours work very well.

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"Workshop 28" Oil on Canvas by Randall Tillery Beautiful work Randall! A++. This painting is a lesson in itself. There's nothing I would change except for the green tree way in the background - I would expect it to be more orange in keeping with the sun's colour corona there.

With the distant green tree made more orange.

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"Workshop 28" 8 x 16" Plein Air and 12 x 24" Studio, Acrylic on Canvas by Walda Juhl Good on you Walda for getting out there and giving plein air painting a try and for choosing such a complex subject. Your sky looks great in the studio piece and it looks like you learned the lesson well of finding the happy medium between the colours of your plein air piece and the colours of your photo. Fantastic! All that detail in the foreground tree is beautiful but I personally would have made more of a suggestion of the tall trees in the background. Squint hard at them in the photo and that's the degree of detail I would recommend there - large blurred masses with a few hints of the major trunks. (You've also removed all that lovely dark mass behind the edge of the barn which was what made the roof so appealing.) Similarly you've agonised over the detail in the fence where a more calligraphic approach would be much more interesting. Beware large areas of the same colour as you've made in the roof of the barn. It's uppermost plane would be slightly lighter for a starter and you can always throw in a rusty panel to break the space up a bit. Having a tree sitting so near the base of the painting is always a bit uncomfortable like it was squeezed in. The placement in the plein air piece was better, or even running it out the bottom as in the photo. A few things to think about for the next one. Great work! Note: For more student work and to upload your own sunset paintings visit: www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

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Project 8 - Inventing Colour

"Evening Gold" 13x15" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson We've learned a lot going through the Mastering Sunset Projects and it's time to apply that knowledge by inventing sunset lighting in a scene, changing it completely. Paint along with me in the demo video using the photo above or get your own photo and apply the same lighting concept to it.

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Photo by John Warren at http://paintmyphoto.ning.com/photo/whitby-lass All Content Copyright © 2014 Richard Robinson Studio. All Rights Reserved.

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Materials

Video Transcript

✓ 13x15” Canvas primed for oil or acrylic.

There's something I really love about painting boats. I got this photo from John Warren at

✓ Ultramarine Blue, Pyrrole Red Light (or Cadmium Red),

www.paintmyphoto.ning.com online. I just thought it

Magenta (or Alizarine Crimson), Yellow Ochre, Bright

could do with a few changes to make it into a decent

Orange, Primary Yellow (or Cadmium Yellow Light or

painting. Two things that I thought could do with

Lemon Yellow), Titanium White.

changing were, the background was too complicated in that it competes for attention with the foreground.

✓ Flat bristle brush 1”. (Blick Economy White Bristle Gesso Brush).

The other thing was that the colours are all jumbled. It doesn't have an overall colour unity. So here's how I fixed

✓ Liner brush #2.

those problems. I've really oversimplified the detail in the

(Golden Natural Liner #2 Short Handle)

background and now the colour idea is basically warm versus cool. So there is a lot of invention going on in this

✓ Filbert Synthetic #6.

painting, but I'm relying on what we've covered already in

(Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #6 Long Handle)

the Mastering Sunsets course in terms of warm versus cool colours and also painting a glowing light source.

✓ Filbert Synthetic #8. (Robert Simmons Titanium Filbert #8 Long Handle)

So feel free to paint along with me with this one or get your own resource photos and work on a similar idea.

✓ Flat Synthetic Wash brush 1”.

You may find one of the trickiest parts of this painting is

(Art Spectrum Series 700F Golden Taklon #10

getting the drawing of the boat just right. It's really easy

or Robert Simmons Short Handle Sapphire Flat Wash 1”)

to get it wrong so what I recommend you do, unless you want to trace it, is to draw a rectangle around it and

✓ Painting Medium: Walnut Oil

divide that rectangle into smaller segments and then you just transfer that same shaped rectangle to your canvas

Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters

wherever you want to place that boat. The same goes for

Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques

the wharf as well.

presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint. It also pays to mix twice as much paint as you think you will need.

Note: View your discounted online shopping list here: www.masteringsunsets.com/materials

Divide the boat into rectangles before transferring the drawing to the canvas.

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If you start off with a straight horizontal line it's much

wash, and work that outwards. Then dipping into the

easier to read the angles of that wharf. If you tape the

yellow ochre we extend that glowing area out further and

photo next to your canvas make sure it's nice and square

the paint gets slightly thicker. So just like a watercolour at

so that you won't be reading the angles wrong when you

this stage and you'd be doing exactly the same with

come to paint it. There's my palette of colours although

acrylics.

later on I do add alizarine crimson and cadmium orange as well. Here are my brushes, a range of bristles and synthetics, mainly flats. And my trusty palette knife. Now because I'm using water mixable oils I've also got this water bottle here which I can spray water onto the canvas with and I'll use that at the beginning. So the first step is to draw that rectangle onto your canvas where you want that boat to go. It is a tricky shape so I'm actually drawing it in pencil where as I normally just draw it in with a brush but just to get it right I'm using a pencil, taking it a bit slower and

Spray the canvas with water first, then lay in a gestural wash with a fan brush.

then blocking in all the major shapes. Wouldn't it be neat if we could draw this fast!

The beauty of using a fan brush at this stage is that because of the shape of it you get this beautiful, almost random feel to your brushwork which is very hard to achieve with a standard shaped brush. If you want to paint a painterly painting it really pays to start out as gestural and as random as you possibly can, simply because we have a tendency to copy the marks we've already made when we paint over the top of them.

Sketching in with a pencil in this case because there’s plenty of drawing here that would be easy to get wrong. Really take your time with this because drawing is the first place we fall down in a painting. If you want to get it right, draw it out on paper the same size first and then transfer it. So I'll start off with the background using the big fan brush dipping it in the water there.If you were using standard oils you would be using your odourless thinners here.

Premixing warm and cool grays. What I'm doing here is premixing four different grays. There will be two darks and two mid values. The first one

I'm going to spray the canvas with water to start with and as we've done in all the other sunset paintings I'm going to start off where the sun is the brightest and the chroma is the highest with this bright yellow. Very very thin, just a

I've mixed at the top right there is the warm dark... and now I've mixed the cool dark which has got a little bit more purple in it. And now I'll mix a couple of mid values

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- one warmer and one slightly cooler. So the colours I've

one way back in the distance which is catching all that

mixed to achieve these grays are not really important. It's

beautiful golden light.

just that I'm trying to achieve two sets of fairly neutral values and one of those is slightly warmer and one of

And then another plain which is slightly closer to us and

them is slightly cooler than the other.

that's slightly darker and slightly grayer, but it's still warm and both of those planes of buildings, as they move over

So if you mix blue, red and yellow together you get a fairly

to the right, they get slightly light and slightly warmer. So

neutral grey to start with. Now if you want to make that

they're very much like paper cutouts. The difference

cooler you'd add a bit of blue and some white. And if you

being that most of the edges in the background will be

want to make it warmer you'd add some red or yellow,

very soft compared to the sharp edges that I'll put it the

just like I did with this one. I'm using a wide nylon flat

foreground later and I'm also trying to put in some

brush. I'm going to put a real thin coat of the warm mid

variation in the shapes.

value down into the background here. It's something to start with.

I'm putting in a dome here and I'm trying hard not to repeat the shapes that I have in that background layer of

Just trying to suggest very loosely some blocky shapes of

buildings in the layer in front of them because that's a

buildings in the background. Now I've used water with

very easy thing to do and you see beginners do that a lot

the mixture here instead of oil and it appears to be too

when they paint different layers of mountains. They'll have

thin so I've wiped most of it off there and I also wanted it

one set of mountains in front of the other which looks

to be a little bit lighter and a little bit warmer again. So

exactly the same, or follows the line of the mountains

you can see I'm just putting white and yellow ochre in

behind it. The same deal with these buildings. Just try

there.

and vary the shapes. Now I've got some thin slushy warm goop. That's the technical term. That I'm smooshing around in the foreground here trying to add some interest. So basically all around the edges of the painting I plan to leave this paint really quite thin and washy so anything I can do to create interesting texture there is good for the painting. So it's time to start putting in the dock now and because I'm inventing this glowing light source remember what we

Blocking in the background thinly, trying for large shapes with plenty of variety. Two layers of buildings in the distance much like paper cutouts.

learned previous to this painting was that objects in front of a glowing light source take on the colour of that light source and that effect becomes stronger and stronger closer to the light source itself.

And now I'm using slightly thicker paint and I'm using oil as the medium instead of water. That seems to sit on top

So I'm starting off with a very warm mid value here and

a little bit better. So I'm always experimenting with my

that's going to be the basis of the glowing effect under

paint, seeing what it can do and I hope you'll do that too

the dock here. You'll see once I've finished blocking in

because it just makes it more fun. Now blocking in the set

this orange shape and its reflections that I'll use a darker

of buildings further back into the distance. So my basic

colour and work inside that so that I'm leaving a little bit

idea is that I've got two plains of buildings back there -

of that orange showing on the edges so it appears that

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the light, the power of the light, is making the edges of

and interest in your painting when you do that. Another

this object glow with its own colour.

thing I didn't like about the photo was all the jumble of lobster pots that were piled up on top of the dock because if you tried to paint them without going into some serious detail it would just be an indecipherable mess. So I decided to simplify what was going on top of the dock into a couple of barrels and then a smaller stack of well organised lobster pots. And that's the start of them there. I'm just going to block in a light warm grey there for the reflection on the side of the boat which is going to

Starting the dock in warm hues close to the sun glow, getting cooler and darker further out.

play out differently than in the photograph because I've changed the lighting conditions so I have to change what gets reflected off the boat.

So there's the dark going in now and I'm just being pretty careful to leave the edges orange. That thin little pole there I can leave completely orange because he's going to be right in the middle of the reflected sunlight here. So he's very influenced by the colour of the sun. The nice thing about this flat synthetic brush is that it's very sharp and has fine hair so you can create a very crisp edge with it and use it long ways or sideways to get a very calligraphic stroke. There's my darkest dark - or, so far my darkest dark going in for the reflection of the boat which you can see is

Working systematically from darks to mids, then the lights will go on later.

really a dark purple but it's fairly grey as well. I'm going to paint more of the side of the dock now, so I'm going to

I start up this end of the boat and as I work this dark

mix a fairly dark grey for that and I'll start off with a slightly

bluey purple down to the left it mixes in with that light

bluish grey and then I'll add other colours into it as I move

grey that I had put down there to start with and that gives

over the dock and just bend the colour here and there so

me enough of a colour change to start indicating the

I get more colour interest within those dark grays.

reflection on the side of the boat. I thought it'd be nice to have a big cleat on the dock to tie the boat off on. It just

I'll keep the values fairly much the same but just changing

adds a little bit to the story.

the hue or bending the colour to create more variation and more interest within all that darkness. So for instance

A bluish mid grey for the inside of the boat and I've just

I just added some yellow there to that grey which made it

added a little bit of yellow to that same light grey for the

slightly more green and it's changed the hue but hasn't

paint of the waterline. Now the reflection of that waterline

really changed the value much at all.

paint needs to be a little bit darker so I just add some of that warmer grey next to that. See the difference is really

What you'll see a lot of beginners do in a situation like this

quite subtle but it does help with the impression of

would be to just paint this entire dock black because it's

reflectivity.

a silhouette and you lose all that opportunity for variation

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When you're painting a boat it is so easy to lose track of

palette there to help with the vibrant colour in the orange

the drawing and muck up the shape of the boat so it

buoys on the side of the boat. You could try and mix that

pays before every brushstroke you put down on that thing

same orange with the red and the yellow on your palette

to check it against the drawing, to know what you're

but you'll find that it's never quite as powerful as

going to be painting before you paint that brushstroke.

cadmium orange straight out of the tube. I've found one

Just painting some negative shapes here, that's the

of the really tricky things with painting these buoys was

shapes behind the foreground shapes. You can really use

getting the placement of their reflections right because

these shapes to sharpen up the edges of your foreground

they're not where you expect them to be, so have a really

objects.

good look at the photo before you put those reflections in. And again you make the reflections slightly darker than

That's the distant boat going in. One thing you'll notice is

the buoy itself, especially in this case because what

the big difference between the painting and the

you're actually seeing reflected is mostly the underneath

photograph that you can see in the side bar there, is that

of each buoy.

the values are so much lighter in the painting and that's because I'm trying to keep all this background area in this

It's also really important to get the reflection of each buoy

beautiful warm glow. If I had painted a really dark dark

perfectly in line vertically with the buoy because otherwise

back there which you can see in the photograph it would

you're telling the viewer that the water is tilted and we

have destroyed that whole sense of light through that

know that it's not, it's flat. Now I'm going to put in the

background area.

reflection of the buoys into the side of the boat. These are not all the same colour - some of them are darker, some

So if you take anything away from this particular project I

of them are lighter. I'll do a few highlights now. I've got

hope it's that you will learn more about how to control

mainly white and both of the yellows.

your values because the basic setup of this painting is light values in the background contrasted with dark

Pushing the bristles into the paint, loading it up nice and

values in the foreground. If you start to destroy that setup

thick, just dragging it off on the surface so it's nice and

by putting too many lights in the foreground or too many

chunky. Just added a bit more yellow ochre to darken the

darks in the background it will destroy the whole idea of

reflection of that one, and pure yellow ochre for the

the painting.

highlight on the pole up here. You gotta hold your breath for this one! For some of these sparkling highlights here it's pretty much pure white with a little bit of that cadmium yellow in it.

The buoys are not all coloured or lit the same - each one is unique. Be careful of the placement of their reflections!

Using the edge of the palette knife to create crisp lines.

Using the edge of the palette knife here and some very

Just want to add a little bit more mystery up here. I mean,

thick warm grey to capture the light on the top of the

who knows what atmospheric effects you've got going

dock. I've just added some cadmium orange to the

on. It could be plenty of mist or rain, anything down here

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so just enjoy making an interesting texture with paint.

here take a look at the photograph and see what's going

Now for the highlights in this area it's mostly cadmium

on, so you really understand it before you paint it. I'm

yellow a tiny bit of white thrown in.

using a pointy sable watercolour brush here to do this work. It's really nice to get a fine brush like this to just put some finishing details in. There's an orange rope going in. And over here it's obviously a darker grey rope because it's further away from that glowing effect. And where would a good fishing boat scene be without a seagull?

Painting the highlights in very thickly. Basically all I'm trying for in the water here is to have broad horizontal strokes in the foreground and they get thinner and thinner as they go into the background. It just helps add some sort of form and perspective to the

Painting the seagull with four strokes.

water. Just adding a hint of green to the foreground water here as if you could start to see down through into the

There's really only four brushstrokes in this. This is the

water to see the colour of the water itself.

first with a cool light grey. Then I've got a very dark cool grey for the wing. And red or orange for the leg. And then my white with cadmium yellow for the highlight. Not a bad little seagull. Then signing it, and I'm done.

Creating a more interesting texture in the foreground by spraying and wiping. I gave it a little spray with the water bottle, dabbing some of that off with the paper towel. Just to keep some sort of

The finished painting.

textural interest there. I was just thinking there's a lot of

The best part, pulling off the tape which frames it

warm in the water there and it could perhaps do with a

instantly, and there's the finished painting. Thanks for

slightly cooler grey on the tops of some of these ripples in the water. Here's another part of the boat that's really easy to get wrong, so don't just assume you know the

watching. I hope you got a lot out of that and if you are going to paint this project I wish you good luck and happy painting.

pattern that this should take. Before you do every stroke

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Student Examples for Project 8 "There's room for you" 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas by Russell Kells Hi Russell, congratulations for grabbing the reigns and inventing your own painting as you have from your own photo. It's notoriously difficult to invent lighting on objects like this but you've done a pretty good job. I took the liberty of fiddling with your painting in photoshop to see how I might change the lighting to make the whole painting a little more convincing. Basically I think you need more greys in the painting, especially on the shadow sides of the buildings and their reflections. Doing that allows the colourful sunset to feel much more powerful in comparison. I love your composition too, but the one thing I'd change there is the placement of the corner of the building that is currently lining up too neatly with the left side of the gondolier.

Fiddled in Photoshop

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"Evening Gold" 12x13" Oil on Canvas by Marianne Rodwell Good job Marianne. The things you did really pretty well in this painting are your overall value structure (that is, the difference between your lights, mid values and darks), your drawing is good except for the angled approach you took to the side of the boat which looks a bit odd, the orange fenders look beautiful, even if two of them have shrunk with the cold water, and your seagull's great too. Oh and the subtle value changes you made in the distant city is good work- very mystical looking. A few things I would look at changing are the muddiness of some of the colours which you have where cools and warms have been brushed together too much, I would add more light into the sky especially around the sun and its reflection to break up the background a little more, grey the blue off a little and darken the light stripes on the left side of the boat which are jumping out too much. I hope that helps. "Evening On Winyah Bay, South Carolina, USA" 8x10" Oil by Nora Mackin Hi Nora, great to see you making your own composition from this project - very inventive. The design is interesting in that my eye follows the boats in a circle around the painting, but those poles being all so similar and similarly spaced makes something of a visual barrier to the painting and I almost wish it wasn't there. Maybe that's just me. Your colours have become very muddy in places where you've used neutral grey instead of greyed colour, but the glowing effect you've achieved in the sky and water is great. You could look at darkening some of the shadows inside the dinghies to give a more convincing realism and maybe one or three of those orange fenders would help add interest

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to that grey foreground. I like the freedom of your brushwork but being more careful when it comes to key areas like the shape of the dinghies will really help this painting. Close though! Keep up the good work Nora. "Workshop#29" 10x14" Watercolour by Colleen McCafferty Nice to see a watercolour version of this scene Colleen and I love the soft effects you've achieved with it which are quite ethereal. I do feel that there could be a little more weight and detail in the boat to contrast against the softness of the rest of the image. This side of the boat for instance could do with a darkening wash of blue-grey, especially the light stripe along the waterline which is poking out. The drawing of the boat is a little wonky too as the far side should be angled a bit lower. Looking at it in a mirror will let you see it anew. I assume the painting has been taken at a slight angle, otherwise the whole image needs to be tilted to the left to straighten it up. I guess you're dropping paint into damp areas to achieve some of those soft effects - really beautiful. Oh and, great seagull! "Night mum, Goodnight son" 10x14" Oils on Arches Huile paper 21x29cm by Janet Poole Great painting Janet, good composition, great drawing, nice choice of colours and good brushwork. My only reservation is that the blue grays seem too cool compared to the warm sunset colours. See what you think of the changes I made in photoshop. Note: For more student work and to upload your own sunset paintings visit: www.masteringsunsets.com/photos

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Summary Hey well done - you've made it to the end of the course, that is great work! Now if you haven't done already I encourage you to go back to the start of the course get

What now?

your paints out and do these projects one at a time, because that is the best way for you to learn to be able to paint beautiful sunsets by yourself, not just by watching

Get painting!

me do it. Ok. Oh, and there are some bonuses for you here: So thank you for watching all the way through and I wish www.masteringsunsets.com/bonuses

you happy painting and best of luck. Thanks for watching.

Happy Painting! Richard. ps. If you’ve really enjoyed this painting course please let your painting friends know about it. You can do that easily here: www.masteringsunsets.com/share

“Pataua” 152 x 51cm Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson

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Mastering Sunsets Course Notes  

Course Notes for the Mastering Sunsets painting course at www.masteringsunsets.com

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