- Lesson Details
There is only a short window of time in which you can capture a sunset, which was the main element of this scene that included an ancient building just beyond a field grass. Here we tackle the challenges that come with working against the clock.
Landscape painting in a studio compared to painting on-location are completely different experiences, each with their own set of challenges to face. Painting landscapes on-location means you’re faced with constantly changing natural lighting, as well as nature, but the experience itself can really make your inspiration flow.
In this painting course, Artist Ben Fenske teaches you the fundamentals of landscape painting through a series of lessons. These lessons include easy to follow instruction, analysis of famous landscape paintings, and demonstrations shot on-location, to help you better your painting skills.
The sun is about to set
and I want to do a quick sunset sketch.
So what I’m gonna do first is
I have about an hour until the sun actually goes below the horizon.
So I want to just set up the composition and the drawing and not think about
the colors right now. And see what happens in 40 minutes and see if I can
wait long enough to go for the sunset effect that I want.
The scene is a - it's pretty much a silhouette.
It's pretty much just a shape silhouetted against the sky, which will be silhouetted against
the sunset. Some secondary shapes in the foreground which could be nice too but mostly I
chose this location for the the shape that will be against the sky.
That's basically going to be sky and then everything else in shadow.
And not decided on any specific color right now.
But just placing everything so when the sun actually does set I can
just concentrate on color. And I might put a little bit of tone down.
But I don't really want to decide on any specific color right now.
I just want to get a rough drawing set up
so that when the time is right.
I can really go for the color.
Right now the sun is in my eyes.
So hopefully they'll be a few small clouds.
Not enough clouds to block the sun on the horizon but just a few
so that the sun will actually illuminate those clouds and
create an interesting sunset. I’m gonna have to wait a minute.
I can't really see right now, I’m gonna wait a second.
Yeah I’m gonna wait a second. Actually, I might just move everything down a bit.
I think I've divided the canvas too equally. I think I’m gonna move things down a bit.
That's okay, I still have time. I basically
started the composition and I know that it's basically going to be everything on the ground
silhouetted against the sky. And what I did is I made the mistake of making equal
parts light and dark in this composition time,
and I’ll just wipe that off and try again by moving everything a bit down since
I have a little bit of time.
Okay so I’m just going to move everything down
and make the composition more like two thirds sky instead of half sky, half land I guess.
I think I planned this one
slightly better as far as cropping. I'm having a little bit of a hard time seeing this
okay. I'm having a hard time seeing right now.
I need the sun to go behind these trees.
Just gonna have to wait a minute.
I’m going blind.
I'm getting ready to paint a sunset.
And I've just started to draw my composition.
I want to set everything up so I don't have to do any drawing when the
actual effect hits. It’s a really quick effect.
I want to have everything set up so I can just throw a paint down and make color
notes. It's not going to last very long once it’s there.
So I'm just going to set up the composition. I have time now to do that,
I have time to do a little bit of drawing and a little bit of thinking about
the composition and I'll do that.
And when the when the time is right,
then I'll start mixing up colors very fast and and trying to get some color notes
down. And I'm just putting a little bit of tone down,
but I don't really - I don't really want to go for any colors right now.
I want to wait until that perfect moment hits and then I'll go for some color
information. A little bit hard to see right now looking into the sun.
Okay so I more or less have what I need for the
sketch. I want to wait a while for the actual painting.
Now I can see more clearly.
That's nice. At this point,
I think I can start painting a little bit.
I'll start with the colors that are on
the ground and I don’t want to paint the sky yet.
But I might be able to start painting a little bit of the ground.
I might just wait a minute.
Yeah, I'll do a little bit of painting.
I just want to get some of this information down.
I don't want to paint teverything on the ground block.
I want there to be some color in there.
I'll try to guess how much contrast I need from the sky to the
ground. I also want the colors to be fairly not only dark but also fairly dull
on the ground because I want the strong colors to be in the sky.
So I'm going to keep everything
sort of grey on the ground and I will hopefully then the colors in the sky
will stand out against that.
And it should just keep getting better and better, the colors, as the sun starts to
set. I want to wait for the right moment.
It's difficult because it's different every night and I can't predict
what the clouds are going to do and it could happen that we - that a cloud
comes in between the sun and us and there's no - suddenly there's no sunset at all.
It's getting to the point where I can start thinking about the sky a little bit.
Well, I’ll just finish getting in a little bit of these rooftops.
I want to think about the color of this rower.
Kinda the bluish violet grey I'm going for.
The main thing is I want I want room to go darker here if I want
to. I don't want to go down to black.
That's - and that's what I'm trying to avoid is going to black.
It will actually look less sunny or less sunsety if you
go all the way down to black.
I'm trying to keep all the values in the shadow.
Very close together, very controlled and compressed together.
but not not down to black.
I want to have some room.
Sun is still going down. I'm a little bit worried that I went to dark there in
that tower, I might lighten it up a tiny bit.
I want there to be some contrast between the tower
and the cypress trees and cypress trees will probably be the darkest thing
in the painting. I might just lighten up the tower a tiny bit.
I've got to start mixing up something for the cypress tree is very soon.
So I'm going to do that.
I'm going to mix up the cypress trees.
I’m gonna go for a dark blue violet but not the darkest thing that I can
mix. I see a little bit of green in there.
Okay so I still see the sun.
It's about to go below the hill.
At that point I probably will start mixing up
the sky and then it's going to be very fast-acting there.
Those birds are great going into the tower.
couple things to be aware of.
There's a a vertical gradation and also a horizontal gradation.
The widest part of the sky is going to be just where the sun has set.
And then it's going to be almost circular gradation going out from that point.
And I probably don't want to mix up the latest thing either.
I don't want to go to Wyatt Earp.
or anything near that so I'm going to try to keep it under control like I
did with the shadow parts. So I’ll start mixing up
and I know from experience that the colors will probably get better as the sun continues
to set. But I'm going to have to go for this now.
I’m gonna see see how light I can go.
I'll mix up some cad yellow and a white and orange.
And so I don't want to go that light
or else it won’t look like a sunset.
So I’m going to modify that. I'm about to just start putting it down.
Make it darker than the…
And I'll try to weave the gradation into this.
This is already too I think orange and light.
I'll get some of the more darker oranges at the bottom of the sky here.
Or down here. I might come back and make those a little bit darker, as the sun
continues to set those are going to go darker and darker.
There are few clouds, but not the ones I hoped there would be.
There are a few clouds here creating a few nice horizontal bands in the sky.
I'm going to start creating more of a gradation now.
And I'll kind of paint into this stuff,
scrub in a general color. I'm also seeing now that I could probably lighten up
some things on the ground.
They just look too dark and too cut out.
I'll see if I get back to that.
This tower looks a little bit too dark, I was afraid of that.
And I can lighten it up in a minute.
I just have about five or ten minutes when it's the nice light.
So I'm going to mix up some colors.
And this has to be slightly darker than the bottom of the sky.
Start creating this gradation a little bit.
I want to darken some of these sky holes.
And I want to lighten up the ground plane a little bit and lighten up actually
everything in the ground I want to lighten up a bit.
It's just looking like there's just too much contrast.
And a little bit too cut out.
So I want to lighten that up a bit
while I can still see.
Just looking so cut out right now.
I need to lighten up a few more things on the ground
I think. Either that or I need to darken the sky a tiny bit.
I don't want to chase the effect too much either.
It is a different effect now than it was even five minutes ago.
So I’ve got to be aware of that too.
But I think I can lighten some of these things up.
This olive tree against the sky.
And I think I'd like to lighten up that tower a little bit.
It’s just looking too cut out.
I think of that is I need to make it a little bit narrower too.
It's very different
now. It's changed quite a bit.
I might have painted the sky a little bit too early because it is a really
nice right now. But it's a sketch.
Every time I do a sunset I learn a little bit, I get ideas about
how to maybe make it better and I experience a new - it’s different everyday,
So yeah it’s a fun thing to do to try to paint a sunset and
that wraps up our demonstrations in Italy.
Thanks for joining me.
Reference Images (43)
Free to try
1. Overview of the Scene1m 11sNow playing...
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2. Sketching in the Composition12m 45s
3. Setting up the Painting for the Light Effect25m 27s
4. Painting the Sunset22m 40s