Sunset Reflections - Landscape Oil Painting

Sunsets are a calm, peaceful scene for a painting. You can almost feel the world slowing down - the birds singing their end of day songs, the crickets chirping and owls hooting in the woods or the fireflies' silent flickering lights.

"Sunset Reflections" was requested by a client from Texas. Her beautiful photo is the inspiration for this painting. To see the completed piece click here - or keep reading to see how I painted this piece in 8 steps.

1. First of all, when painting a sunset from a photo, I want to see what is really there - what your eyes see.

Photographs will often hide detail because of the way a camera lens works - the sunset is bright and colorful, but the landscape is very dark, almost black, as can be seen in the photo to the left.

To see the scene better, I brighten the photo in Photoshop.

Now I can see that there is a grassy field in the background and that the foreground tree trunks are actually standing in the water. Once I have this new information, I can paint!

2. To begin the painting, I roughly sketch the scene onto a canvas which I've attached to foam core board. I've scored the board so that it can be folded into a protective box later on for shipment. How I ship a wet oil painting.

I start painting at the top with the sky. The sky is where light emanates, so it sets the tone for the scene. First the dark clouds:

Then the pale blue sky and warm sunset colors around the sun. The sunset in this scene is especially gorgeous - colorful, yet peaceful. I'm happy with how it is turning out so far!

3. While the sky colors are on my palette, it's a good time to paint sunset reflections in the water. This is basically painting the same thing upside down with some horizontal strokes to break up the reflection:

4. To paint the landscape, I use deep greens and browns keeping everything soft and indistinct since it's nightfall. The unpainted vertical lines denote where the trees trunks will be:

When the field, background trees and their reflections are done, I allow the paint a few days to dry before painting the tree trunks:

5. The trees are painted dark since they are profiled against the sky. I use a small brush to stroke in the branches:

6. Below is a trick I use often to check my work when a painting is nearing completion - I turn it upside down! It's amazing how this one trick can help me see things that need adjusting. (Another method is to view the painting in a mirror):

7. I now make sure I've painted the image on all edges of the canvas:

8. Now the painting is finished and ready to be shipped to the client in its protective box. 

Isn't this a peaceful scene?

I'm happy to take custom orders. Contact me for a custom painting of your pet, home, garden, grandkids, favorite vacation spot or whatever your heart desires.
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