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January 14, 2018

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How to Oil Paint a Sunset Background in Your Artwork


First Step : Define Your Composition

Grab your sketch book and before beginning your oil painting draw out a thumbnail sketch of your sunset composition. This is a good artist technique to get into a habit of doing. Having a number of uncompleted art pieces I find this to be very helpful in the beginning stages of an oil painting. It's like creating a road map to find your destination point or help keep the final created art piece in focus.

For my painting I've chosen to place the landscape horizon line in the very lower bottom thirds of the canvas. This is because I will be painting the upper canvas portion mostly with a cloudy sky. I've just learned a new way of painting a cloudy sky and want to apply it in this art piece. Then I will brush on distant mountains in light values and then increase the values with the mountains and hills closer to the foreground. Along the painting process by adding different types of trees and in various sizes will give a sense of distance to the composition.

The canvas used for this oil painting in size is 15 inches high by 30 inches wide. I like to brush on a layer of white gesso to give some bite or tooth to the surface. It also makes the canvas cloth denser so that the canvas material is not so see through which you can notice if you where to put a light behind it.

Start by determining, from you thumbnail sketch, where your horizon line will be located. Mine as mentioned is going to be near the bottom third. Also determine a location as to where your sun will be painted begin thinking about your artist oil painting colors you will be brushing on.

For the sunlit area I will likely be painting with Indian Yellow blended with Titanium White which makes a warm golden glow. The area of the sky will be brushed on with artist paints of Manganese Blue into white.


Paint smaller clouds nearer horizon line on your canvas.

Third Step : Painting Clouds

Clouds are white puffy cotton balls in the sky. No, not really. But if your to think of them that way, you may be painting that way. Clouds have shape, form and come in an endless amount of different sizes. Sometime these enormous collections of water vapors will change to smaller ones or even disappear before your eyes.

You need to be aware in your painting composition of where you brush on certain ones of different sizes and colors to create your desired effect in your fine art piece.


Landscape under painting before painting highlights.

Fourth Step : Landscape Under Painting and Brushing inTrees

Before painting in to much it's good to brush in the landscape to see how the lay of the land will be in the composition. This also helps in determining where your highlights and shadows may be painted.

Think about the Rule of Thirds when placing trees to make the composition more interesting. In this portion I've penciled some in to see how they effect the composition.




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