Photo Copyright 2009
Acrylic on Canvas
28 x 22 in (71 x 56 cm)
This is the next in a series of 12-step acrylic painting lessons for you. The first lesson featured a misty coastal scene with jagged cliffs.
This lesson features a sunset on the Pacific coast not far from Los Angeles, California, USA. It was taken from a personal photo (see top photo). Today’s Image (second above) is my acrylic painted from the photo.
I completed this painting in about six hours over two consecutive days, and that does not include varnishing. As I said in the first lesson, don’t feel like you have to follow these steps exactly; do them in the order that’s right for you. Also, you may be able to render your painting in more or less time than I.
The first four steps are, and probably will continue to be, the same for every lesson because they are the preliminary steps for most paintings.
Step 1 – Select your motif. This is another coastal scene, which I like. The photo I took was from a boat just offshore at sunset in the month of July; I like the interesting light and wanted to recreate it in a painting.
Step 2 – Select your support; I used a 28 x 22 in (71 x 56 cm) stretched canvas.
Step 3 – Select your color palette; with printed photo in hand I selected the following:
-for the dusk/clouds sky--Liquitex Basics Primary Red, Amsterdam Azo Yellow Light, Grumbacher Ultramarine Blue, Liquitex Basics Dioxazine Purple, Liquitex Payne’s Gray, and Winsor & Newton Galeria Titanium White;
-for the sunset sky--Amsterdam Carmine, Amsterdam Azo Yellow Light, and Winsor & Newton Galeria Titanium White;
-for the mountains--Liquitex Basics Primary Red, Grumbacher Ultramarine Blue, Liquitex Payne’s Gray (a little Payne’s Gray, but don’t over-do it as it can quickly over-power other colors), and Winsor & Newton Galeria Titanium White;
-for the foreground and trees--Amsterdam Azo Yellow Light, Liquitex Pthalo (pthalocyanine) Blue-Red Shade, Liquitex Burnt Sienna;
-for the sun-- Amsterdam Azo Yellow Light, Reeves Deep Yellow.
Step 4 – Sketch the main elements on your support; this is easy for this painting as you only need to sketch one horizontal line across for the mountain ridge and a very small slit for the setting sun; do not sketch the foreground—it will come later.
Step 5 – Mix the colors for the dusk/clouds and paint that part of the sky—it should be a grayish, mauve-y color, a couple of shades lighter just above the ridgeline and darker higher up; paint the left- and right-hand sky with broad, even, diagonal brush strokes (I used medium-sized flat bristle brush), leaving space for the sunset colors; let dry.
Step 6 – Mix the colors for the sunset and paint that part of the sky—it should be a salmon-pink color, but not too bright, and with a couple of shades of light and dark; paint the area around and above the sun using broad, diagonal stokes; let the sunset colors interleave the dusk colors like the rays of the sun; add a few strokes of darker salmon-pink shades above the sun and near the top for some contrast.
Step 7 – Mix the colors for the mountains and paint them—it should be similar to the color of the dusk/clouds, but without the Dioxazine Purple cast; mix several lighter and darker shades; paint the mountains with big, bold, horizontal stokes (I used a large no. 10 round bristle brush); paint all the way to the very bottom of the canvas, but use a lighter shade about 3 in (7.5 cm) from the bottom; let dry.
Step 8 – Mix the colors for the foreground and trees--this should be a very, very deep, dark green--almost black; take time to get the color right as the foreground is the secondary focal point (after the sun) and provides depth to the composition;
Step 9 - With a flowing stroke (I used a medium, flat bristle brush), SCUMBLE the paint across the bottom 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) BEING CAREFUL TO LEAVE the top line ragged with some gray of the mountains showing through to give the illusion of "trees"on a hillside; before the paint dries, scrape away some paint in a couple of horizontal strokes below the “trees” to indicate the ground; keep some of the color on hand for the next step.
Step 10 – Add highlights to the mountains and mountain ridge; dilute the foreground color with water and randomly apply to the mountains to indicate hills and valleys--this will add the illusion of distance; also darken along the ridgeline slightly.
Step 11 – Paint the sun; with a small brush paint the slit with the Deep Yellow and let dry; add a few strokes of Azo Yellow Light along the top of the sun in a broken line—this will also add to the illusion of distance.
Step 12- Mix up a little more of the dusk color used in Step 5 and dilute it slightly; lightly paint highlights in two places: 1) just below the ridgeline to indicate the light of the setting sun showing through the ridgeline and 2) just above the “trees” to indicate reflected light on hills.
Now, step back and enjoy your work of art.