It was Claude Monet who once said, “The light constantly changes, and that alters the atmosphere and beauty of things every minute”. One of the most exciting things about watercolor painting is capturing a luminous and vibrant sunset on a piece of paper.
In this tutorial, I will demonstrate how to paint an easy watercolor sunset scene with a tree silhouette. If you are a beginner, this will be an excellent opportunity to practice. Working with watercolors can be difficult, which is why I tried going for a simple scene in this post.
Let’s get into it!
If you’re interested in learning more, I would recommend reading my article on how to paint a watercolor sunset. I go over the process of planning a sunset sky with 3 step by step examples.
Required material for painting
- Watercolor paper
- 300gsm/140lb cold pressed paper (5.2 × 5.6)inches
- Watercolor brushes, the size and type of the brushes can vary with different sizes of paper (big brushes cover bigger sized pages). So also worry too much about using the sizes I have mentioned here.
- Flat brush: size 1/2
- Round brush: Size 8 and size 4
- Two jars of water- so that you can rinse the brush twice and don’t have to keep changing the water
- Watercolor tape or masking tape
- Napkin/ paper towel
Sunset color scheme
Before starting with the painting, it is important to know what colors you are going to need:
- Lemon yellow
- Cadmium Yellow
- Warm red -Pyrrol Scarlet
- Red-orange (You can get this color by mixing yellow and red, add more red than yellow), this will produce a more vibrant sunset.
- Rose madder
- Ultramarine blue
- Paynes Gray or black
Begin by having your colors with in reach and ready to be put on your mixing pallet.
Watercolor Painting process
Step 1– Preparing Your Paper
Make sure you have taped down all four sides of your paper. If you’re using masking tape I would recommend sticking it on your clothes so it’s not too sticky. This way it won’t rip the paper when you remove it.
Step 2: Painting Wet into Wet
Begin by pre-wetting the paper with clean water. With your round brush, drop in lemon yellow along the bottom of the paper.
Step 3: Adding warm yellow
While the paper is still wet, add dabs of cadmium yellow above the Lemon yellow.
Step 4: Adding orange to the sky
Add a touch of scarlet to the cadmium mixture and paint on top of the cadmium yellow. The key is to slowly add more red to your mixture as you move towards the top of the paper.
Step 5: Transitioning from red to blue
Finally, add a touch of rose madder to the orange mixture just before transitioning to blue.
Step 6: Finishing the Sky
At the very top of the paper, add some ultramarine blue.
While the paper is still wet, paint in slightly dark ‘spots” on top of the yellow and yellow-orange areas. Remember to keep adjusting the mixture, the higher you go the more red you should add to the mixture.
Let it dry…
Step 7: Painting the silhouette
The sunset part is complete, yayy!
Once the paint has dried, it’s time to paint the silhouette of the hill using black or Paynes gray. Notice how the area where the tree will go is higher than the rest of the hill:
When painting the tree, start with the trunk then paint the bigger branches (in an asymmetrical pattern), and then finish with the narrowest branches.
Let it dry…
Step 8: Adding wisps of cloud
With the small round brush, paint in wisps that go in the direction of the trees. Keep adjusting the mixture, the higher you go along the sky the redder it should be.
It can be easy to get carried away on this step, so make sure to leave some space between wisps.
That’s the end for this sunset painting tutorial, thank you so much for reading!!
If you enjoyed this tutorial or have any questions please comment down bellow. I would also love to hear about any challenges you faced while painting.