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Thursday, May 01, 2014

An Idea for Painting the Sunset

'Sunset Series I'            5x7          plein air pastel           ©Karen Margulis
available for purchase $50

 We knew it would be a challenge. We were ready!  We already knew where we would set up. We arrived about 30 minutes before the sunset time. We wanted time to set up our easels and supplies and be ready for the dramatic light of the sunset.

How to best capture something as fleeting as the sunset en plein air....in real time as it unfolds?  We discussed it. Some of us wanted to get the main shapes and composition blocked in so that when the fireworks of the sunset began all would be necessary would be to capture the light and colors of the setting sun.

I decided on a different approach. I would paint the sunset in a series....as it unfolded. This way I would force myself to really observe and capture the subtle changes in the colors and light. I spent about 10 minutes on each painting. Working quickly prevented me from getting bogged down with details. I only wanted to capture the shift in colors. (the paintings are in the order they were finished and are all 5x7 except the last two)

After the sun went behind the mountains it was getting more difficult to see my pastels so these last paintings were done quickly but I had already warmed up!  I loved seeing the twinkling lights come on in the distance.
I am happy I chose to paint the sunset in a series of quick studies. It was a wonderful learning experience and since the sunset was a gentle and subtle rather than a dramatic fiery one, it was even more of a challenge.  I'd like to do this again!

All sunset paintings available in my Etsy shop. Click here to get a closer look.



That was a very interesting exercise that had to done with speed. I love the first one most. Someone once told me paintings of sunsets are most beautiful NOT at their richest with strong colors. My experience with my own paintings plus seeing yours, for me, proves that to be true.

Karen said...

It was a lot of fun. I agree Carol, I like the first ones the best. I enjoy the soft subtle colors! Thanks for commenting.

Diane Mannion said...

What a great idea, Karen! That takes courage, too. Your results are gorgeous. Wouldn't get those results from a photograph.

Jo Castillo said...

Great exercise and paintings! I like the last as I like saturated colors. Nice work!

Karen said...

Thanks Diane and Jo! It was a lot of fun!

Marcela Strasdas said...

Love them Karen!

Nop Briex said...

The best moments of the day to chase the light in a very rapid way. Well done!!