- Arts and Design
How I Sketch Sunsets And Sunrise
The Beauty Of A Sky At Sunrise Or Sunset
As an artist, I love to sketch skies at sunset or sunrise, I spend a great deal of time trying to capture what I see and how it makes me feel.
When I sketch sunsets and sunrises, I am not so involved with accurate cloud shapes but with trying to get down the colours and patterns in the sky, the perspective of the clouds and how it all affects the scene in front of me through the interplay of light and shadow. Of course consideration of the meteorological aspects may be important for some important but is not an over-riding factor for me. I can often be seen to be taking considerable liberties with artistic licence.
This lens is not a "How-to" but a "what-I-do". I am not going to try to tell you how to approach sketching sunsets and sunrises but simply to show you how I go about it. Maybe I will add such information in a future update but there is so much variety in a beautiful sunset that the only way to learn is to go out, observe and put it down on paper. You may not get it right first time but perseverance will bring its own reward, as they say.
I have always been inspired by the colours and patterns in some ( unfortunately not all) sunrises and sunsets, who can fail to be inspired by the wonderful sights on offer?
You can return to NOT ANOTHER WATERCOLOUR TUTORIAL, or if you didn't start from there why not pop on over. It will lead to other pages filled with ideas to enhance your sketching.
All images are by the writer, please respect the copyright and do not copy or otherwise use them without my express permission. I am very amenable if you ask and wish to use them in a non-commercial way. The majority are in waterclour but because I find the use of pastels so amenable where bright and strong colours are involved , I could not leave out a number of pastel images.
Quotes About Sunrise / Sunset
"When I admire the wonder of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in worship of the Creator", Mahatma Gandhi.
"Climb up on some hill at sunrise. Everybody needs perspective once in a while, and you'll find it there", Robb Sagendorph.
The first set of images I want to show you are semi-abstract landscapes. They are painted in a wet-into-wet style and the washes are kept very loose. I select just two or three colours for these sketches and often do several at once to allow each wash to come to the correct level of dryness. Not all of them work but it is great fun playing with the paint in this way trying to capture an ethereal view.
The three colours used here were a cadmium red, ultramarine blue and a lemon yellow; as far as I can remember. Variouis marks with the sharp end of the brush and drops of colour or brushmarks simulate elements of the landscape, leaving the viewers imagination to do a little work.
This next set of images were created using artists' soft pastels. Again it is the overall feeling and atnosphere which I am aimimg for in the sketches rather than an accurate portrayal of reality. These are actually fairly large paintings but I use the term sketch to describe them as they are a quick, evocative rendering.
First a brightly coloured example, where the use of the three primary colours has producecd an exciting appearance.
The second example is a little more subdued but the yellow sky is somewhat surprising. The dark, almost black foreground elements bring these well forward, I find.
Another surprising sky colour, but I saw a similar painting and loved it so I tried it for myself and although the drawing is a little hurried, I was very pleased with the way this came out.
Are You Moved By The Sky At Sunrise / Sunset?
Do you feel that you want to get out a sketch book to capture the sight?
Some More Examples Of Watercolour Sketches
This next set of images are taken from a series of paintings that I did to combine soft brushwork in the sky with a more fim approach in the foreground. Thus bringing the foreground elements forward.
The first shows trees on a hillside.
More trees, different time of day.
A partially obscured moon.
Now See How It's Done.
Watch Videos On Painting Sunset / Sunrise
the last ( acrylic painting has a very loud soundtrack, please be warned
This is a work in progress. I hope to be adding many more examples of how I sketch skies - an excuse for showing off some of my sketches really - but I would love to hear if any of my ramblings are reminiscent of your own experiences of sketching.
Are you a realistic painter, is abstract an anathema to you ? Let me know, I have many painter colleagues who spend hours or even weeks on each work whilst I always aim to complete in a session or two. What is your feeling.