Unlock Inspiring Painting Techniques to Create a Stunning Sunset Portrait: «Sunset Over the Sea»

  • By: Michael Smith
  • Date: September 16, 2023
  • Time to read: 4 min.
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Hello, my dear friends!

Today we are going to paint very bright and colorful picture – the sunset over the sea. The main characters of the painting are the sky and the sea filled in with incredible bright colors and the path of sunlight and flecks lying on the water.

We will paint in the experimental oil painting technique.

The core of this experiment is that:
During our work we will not use any paint thinners, varnishes or oils. I mean we will paint with a dry palette knife and not diluted paints on a dry canvas. (However, you can wipe the canvas with the linseed oil, if it is inconvenient for you to paint).

Here is one more peculiarity of the technique: during our work we will not mix the paints on the palette. We will work with the pure colors of paints just pressed out from the tube. All the paints will be mixed right on the canvas.

You will need the following things for our oil painting lesson:

  • canvas (I used the medium granular one),
  • several palette knives
    and paints:
  • White
  • Cadmium Yellow Medium
  • Cadmium Lemon
  • Cadmium Red
  • Madder Lake Red strong
  • Cobalt Violet
  • Cobalt Blue
  • Sky Blue
  • Phthalocyanine Blue

Let`s start our oil painting class

Press the great amount of the each paint onto the palette. Then take a small piece of paint with a palette knife and stretch it over the canvas. Smooth the paint and press it with a rib of a palette knife, thus the paint will be applied evenly on the canvas.

Let`s begin our work with the top of the canvas – the sky. First apply the paints of the dark cold shades on the canvas: Phthalocyanine Blue, Cobalt blue, Sky Blue and White.

The color of the sky smoothly comes from the dark cold shades to the bright hot colors. You should pay special attention to this shading-off.

Madder Lake Rose strong can act as a contiguous color – sort of an unexceptional line between blue and yellow shades. This color mixed with the blue gives the beautiful violet shade and if it is mixed with the yellow, it gives the bright orange. If you have not made this line with the madder lake, you can get the green clouds or the dust which is even worse.

Thus this technique is very simple but before starting the work, you should understand what colors and shades you can get mixing the certain paints. It is important to understand clearly what color you really need.

The advantage of this technique is its brightness and contrast and the disadvantage is the fact that it is difficult to correct something. The applied thick paint, which is rubbed into a dry canvas, is very hard to remove.

But if there are some really bad strokes and color mixes, you can try to rub them off with a dry clean cloth, maybe the paint thinner can help you but you should remove the paint very carefully and accurately.

The next stage of our oil painting workshop is painting the sky. In order to paint the sky, you can use a palette knife of a medium size in a shape of a float. You can paint the various twists and waves in the sky – everything that you consider suitable for the bright sunset over the sea – with the help of a palette knife.
After you have finished your work on the sky, let`s come over to the bottom of the canvas and paint the sea. Here the principle is the same: first apply the dark blue shades and then smoothly come over to the hot yellow and red colors remembering about the « unexceptional line».

In order to make the waves more natural, you should use the small palette knife and apply the paint with the horizontal brush strokes painting the horizontal zigzags and straight bars of different colors.

You should pay special attention to the path of the bright flecks of sunlight lying on the water. These flecks should be placed right under the sun. Paint the flecks with the White which will slightly mix with the surrounding paints during the working process: Cadmium Yellow and Red. Thus you will get really bright color on the surface of the sea.

The warm paints should come from the path of the sunlight to the both sides on the water (almost evenly: Cadmium Red, Yellow, Lemon and Madder Lake Red.

The next stage of our online painting course is painting the sailboats. Draw several sailboats on the sea. You should paint them very roughly. The dark horizontal spot is a boat. Draw a line indicating the mast and the tightropes with the rib of a palette knife. Apply a bit of the Madder Lake and the Phthalocyanine Blue in the form of a sail. Do not forget to paint the small reflection of a boat under a sailboat.
That is all. Our painting lesson is over.

You should watch the following short oil painting lesson video called «Sea-piece: Sailboats» and its description. This lesson briefly tells how to paint very beautiful bright painting with the sailing regatta in the same technique.

The experiment managed to be successful. I like to paint in this technique and the results were really great.

I wish all of you good luck and new success in your creative work!

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