Sunday, September 09, 2007


5x7 oil on canvas, ready to frame

Yesterday I invited you to look over my shoulder as I painted a sunrise. Today I’ll show you how I painted a sunset. The scene is Santiago Canyon, a beautiful location in Southern California not far from my home.

For this painting I used ultramarine blue to sketch the large shapes (1), making an effort to avoid details too early in the process. When I was satisfied with the composition I blocked in the darkest tonal masses for the foreground elements using a mixture of cadmium red and ultramarine blue. This gave me an indication of how pale the distant tones needed to be in order to contrast well with the foreground.

With the foreground tones for comparison I then started blocking in the background (2), establishing key spots of color everywhere without completing any single area yet.

Continuing to work the entire canvas equally I blocked in the sky, middle distance and initial colors for the nearby trees (3). Note that the sky actually has three separate sections. The far left was cool blue, the center was warmer blue and the right side was a peachy color. Each part was stated as a flat color at this point.

Finally it was time to bring it to completion (4). I added detail to the foreground plane, refined the trees, blended the sky and included more detail in the mountains. At that point I felt I had captured everything I wanted to say in this painting, and decided it was finished. On eBay you can see a photo of me as I paint this picture on location in this beautiful canyon.

Doesn’t that make you want to get outside and try this yourself? If you live near Orange County, California come join me for one of my plein air workshops and I’ll show you how YOU can do it too. I guarantee you’ll enjoy it.

You can email me at or check out details on the WORKSHOPS page of my website at You might be surprised at how easy it is!

Today’s thought to smile about:
Doing something that would make your Mom proud

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