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Is this the long hot Summer? – Learn to Paint a Sunset!

Summer:  As a keen ‘plein air artist’ working out of doors in ‘almost’ all weathers, I dream about the possibility of a long hot summer, when I can go out painting as often as possible.

My first Sunset in oils

My first Sunset in oils.  

So when it does arrive, I do my utmost to get out there and paint, most days, and re-schedule other things, for the evenings or for overcast days, when the colours of nature are muted and subdued.

So, is this the long hot summer? Will it continue into September?  I’m on a roll this year, having completed 90 paintings so far in 2017. A record for me, and what’s best of all, I’m pleased with my progress, and can see some signs of improvement in my work.

Sunsets: This year I discovered that summer sunsets are great to paint. They are not for the faint-hearted, after all, you are trying to capture rapidly changing light conditions. But you know me, I thrive on difficulties, so trying to learn how to capture a sunset as it happens is well worth the effort. Certainly they are all different and unique. Their ‘characters’ are changed by the clouds, the breeze, the time of the sunset, currently about 8.45pm where I live.  It is impossible to predict what might happen, but that is exactly what you need to do in order to prepare the board or canvas.

Sunset at Margate in Oils

Sunset at Margate in Oils

Having prepared by putting in the cloud formations and guessing how light or dark it will be at the optimum point, when it starts to happen things change very quickly, and there’s no time to mix colours, so several brushes need to be used, one for light colours, one for darks, one for the orange and reds, etc, and even then as it happens, you realise how wrong you were at the beginning, but you can’t start to chase it, you’ll ruin it all, so you then have to commit what you have just witnessed to memory, and try to finish off from memory, in the darkening light conditions.

Needless to say, if there are three artists all painting the same sunset, they will all look different in the morning, in the fresh light of a new day. If you haven’t tried it, give it a go, take a jumper, and a flask of  hot coffee.

sunset and vapour trails

Sunset and vapour trails

I am still an early learner with sunsets, so here are three of them!

If you enjoy these ‘Studio Stories’ please tell your friends and share on social media. By clicking on the last two sunset photos, you will be taken to larger images and full details plus lots of other recent work in my online galleries.

Till the next time!