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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tips for Painting a Sunset

'Quiet Evening'         9x12         pastel     ©Karen Margulis   $145 Etsy
I am looking forward to the wide open spaces of the Southwest. I am hopeful for some gorgeous sunsets. I remember when we took our kids out west we chased the sunset every night.  I was into photography at the time so the Magic Hour and sunset were not to be missed.

Taking photos of the sunset is exciting but it is even better to be able to paint a sunset. Sunset photos can be challenging. It is hard to get good exposure in both the colorful sky and the dark ground. But when we paint the sunset we can easily make adjustments.  There are a few things I like to keep in mind when I paint a photo. My goal is to create a painting that isn't cliche or hokey looking.

  • Understand the limits of most point and shoot photos. Often the foreground is underexposed and reads as very dark or even black. You would see more color in real life so be sure to compensate for this.  Sometimes the sky is overexposed and the photo doesn't show the intensity of the sky colors.
  • Colors in the dark ground tend to be dark and dull. I like to use browns, dark ochres, dusky purples, dull reds and greens. I never use black.
  • I like to push the colors in the sky and start with bright intense reds and oranges. If I need to quiet the color down I can but it is difficult to put this intensity in if you have too many layers of lighter colors down first. Of course sometimes you might want a nice soft pastelly sky but if you want a fiery sky....start bold!
  • If you have dark clouds in the sky....avoid using gray. Make your own gray by layering several colors until they turn the shade of gray you need. 
  • I like to scumble a light layer of warm color...orange, red or magenta on top of some lower dark clouds.
  • If the sky is already getting dark I like to use rich blues and purples for the sky. I don't use black.
Maybe I will try to paint a sunset on this trip!  I hope you will follow along with me on my journey. We leave on Sunday and I will post as often as I can depending on our internet service!

1 comment:

i55haskins@gmail.com said...

Hi, I am new to painting & pastels. I love pastels & follow you daily. I live near Charleston,sc in the winter time & love the marshes. Can't figure out how t o
do a crooked oak with spanish moss??

You're on my "top sites".