Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lesson #24 Painting a Sunset in Watercolor

This is a lesson that will be just plain fun! Your painting will end up looking different than mine – and that is what we want. You’ll choose the colors and let them blend and move and see what you end up with!

You will need some stretched watercolor paper (see lesson #23). Also, some Masking Fluid, (liquid masket, frisket, or Mask), masket applicator (toothpick, cheap small paintbrush, end of a small paintbrush, masquepen, or ruling pen), and a rubber cement pick-up (I have clipped a rubber piece off the sole of an old tennis shoe when I could not find a rubber cement pick-up – just make sure it’s clean!). It goes without saying you will need watercolor paint, brushes, paper towels, a pencil, and water!


With your pencil draw a horizon line dividing the top ¼ of your paper and a semi-circle representing a setting sun. Apply masking fluid to the sun with an applicator.

Let it air dry completely. This seals this area from water and paint.


Brush the top area with clear water…twice to make sure it’s sufficiently wet. Let it soak in a bit.

Apply blue paint to the wet paper so it looks like clouds.

Soften sharp edges with a clean brush and water, blotting with a paper towel if necessary. Let it dry or go on to the next step immediately.


Apply some streaks of reddish-purple. Soften sharp edges. Let dry.


Add some orange streaks and soften sharp edges. You decide if you want to let it dry or apply more paint into the still-wet paint.

How about some yellow? Go back over it with some clear water and blot a little to make it lighter.


Add more streaks, if you want, in the sky – and soften edges. A little more orange streaks around the sun. Paint right over the sun. The mask will prevent it from taking the paint and water.


Now remove the mask by gently rubbing over it with your rubber cement pick-up .

Paint the sun. *If you want your painting to be a night-time scene paint your sky in very dark blues and make the sun a rising moon by leaving it white (without paint). Let it dry.


Make some cloud streaks in front of the sun by lifting paint with clear water and blot if necessary. *For a night-time scene paint in soft blue, grey, or purple streaks covering parts of the moon instead of lifting out color as we did for the orange sun.


Add as many streaks as you want until you get it looking the way you want it. Notice below, I have added some green into the blue to give it an aqua color here and there (I actually don’t like it!). Try other colors or leave it to just a simple few.

Notice that the colors are warm (yellow, orange, red) near the sun, and cool (blue, purple, green) away from the sun. For a night-time scene with a moon just use cool colors.

Have fun…and next time we will paint water!

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