Sunset study just for fun

IMG_3506On my drive home yesterday I saw another interesting sunset while at a light. Needing a break from the close studies I’ve been working on, I thought I’d give this a try as a small sketch. The dogs had me up long before my alarm, so I laid in the first washes before work. Another day I will come back over with some broken clouds up the left side, and then fill in all the trees obscuring the sky. It’s good to loosen up and enjoy playing with paint.

Finishing the vertical sunset


I took the risk and put the trees in. I started with a lower stroke of nickel azo yellow to capture the light, then quickly laid some perylene maroon over that, followed by Prussian blue. I was working on the assumption that things would get bluer at the top, and I think I overworked it a bit. Maybe next time I will use a smaller brush, or at least be a little more careful. But I think it came out pretty well with the powerful sunset coming through the trees. The effect worked. A little more precision on the execution next time.

As I was doing this I thought it might be cool to do a similar scene but with cranes instead of trees to make it an industrial urban version. Until then, here’s the finished painting more close up. Thanks to everyone who liked the work in progress and the vertical format. I think I will do at least a few more like this.


Happy Thanksgiving and a Vertical Sunset Painting in Progress

On the way home from work this week I saw an incredible sunset through tall trees. I couldn’t stop to take a picture or paint it live at the time, but it was such a great candidate for a vertical composition that I tried to work it from memory and invention.

In looking at Turner’s skies, you can really see the movement and energy in them. He often does swirled, rounded skies, emphasizing the curvature of the earth. I couldn’t fit all of that in such a narrow composition, so I tried to work with angles to show the clouds and the light coming from somewhere and going to somewhere else.

In case I mess up the trees I am posting the work in progress since the sky came out pretty well. I can’t leave it as is anyway because of the damaged paper. I don’t know, maybe that isn’t noticeable. Also, I think I need to study some really tall skinny trees before I put them in here. Daniel Smith lemon yellow around the white for the brightest light seemed to work pretty nicely. I just got a tube of it a couple weeks ago and have been using some here and there. Seeing it here really makes me love that color.

It’s been nice getting some painting time in on Thanksgiving. My daughters really wanted to paint this morning, so they got me motivated today.

Happy Thankagiving!

Finishing off design district sunset

I didn’t have much left to go on this one, just putting in the branches and darkening things a bit. I will leave this as is for now. Perhaps I can do a bit more in the upper right to darken that and focus things further but I want to post it now as is.

My verdict so far on the Fluid paper is that it’s too smooth and after a while I feel as if I am wiping paint off as much as I am putting more on as I glaze. I should have handled this more directly anyway. The sky was quick and most compelling. I just wasn’t sure exactly how to get the fence and tree dark enough with enough variation without glazing. After awhile of it I got impatient and just tried to get it darker and darker since it was most interesting as a framing device.

That’s all for now. I have some new experiments to undertake shortly. Here it is.


Design District Sunset

I spent the morning laying in washes and the sky for this sunset picture over Annapolis’ Design District. Like I said in my last post, I like the arrangement of shapes and angles that are broken up by the pines on the left and the light against the clouds. Here’s where I am so far.


More to go darkening the trunks with some alternating glazes of green and maroon like the structure on the right. The fence will go darker as well and I have some details to put on the warehouse. I like where this is going.

The Fluid paper is good for a budget alternative to Arches. A little too smooth, so you can’t get as many effects out of the paper, but the paint goes a long way and it holds up well. I think I will keep using it for sketches. It comes in lots of sizes, so I am sure I will take advantage of that with a little pochade box I am making (not much to it really). More to come on that later

Thanks for reading.


Experimenting with another sunset

Yesterday my dad and I drove out west along the Potomac river around sunset to see some scenic farms and a pond that hunters use to train their dogs. He’s taken inspiration from some of these places and for some pastel studies. It’s an interesting area because it’s a remarkably wealthy rural life lived out there with sprawling estates mixed in with some still operable farms. There were some beautiful cherry-tree lines drives, across from which we saw some hunters holding up what looked like a wild turkey.

We took a variety of pictures while out there (unfortunately not of the turkey hunters). This morning I worked one of them up into this sunset study, again learning from Turner, and also trying a wetter approach than on the last. To get the spreading light effect in the sky I wiped drying paint up and out away from the sun. It seems to have created a nice dramatic effect.

These small 5×7 studies have been fun, and despite their small size pretty potent. I think they’d look good in an oversized mat. Something for later. For now, here it is still drying.


All the colors in a sky–learning from sunset

After looking at so many of Turner’s skies and sunsets I have really wanted to give a small one a try. I have also been interested in the way pastel artists get such compelling skies with so many colors in them (see Loriann Signori’s blog). It seems like one key ingredient is having several blues in close proximity. And a teal or turquoise plays an important role.

This rough sunset attempt is from a picture I took while crossing the Severn River in Annapolis this weekend. My goal here was only experimentation. I would rather handle these directly outdoors, but some practice first makes sense.

Thanks for reading.