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Mastering Sunsets Project 8

Demo Painting

"Evening Gold" 13x15" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson


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This Month's Challenge

Mastering Sunsets Project 8 : Inventing Light

Demo Painting

Photo by John Warren at

We've learned a lot going through the Mastering Sunset Projects and it's time to apply that knowledge by inventing sunset lighting in a scene, changing it completely. Paint along with me in the demo video using the photo above or get your own photo and apply the same lighting concept to it.

Here's a video explaining how to analyse colour and value with a colour checker:

Can't see this video? Watch it on Youtube here:

Get The Ultimate Painter's Tool here:


You can learn more about using Colour here.

Note: If you can't see the videos on this page (above) or on Youtube, I can't help with that sorry - there will be something wrong with your computer settings, but I'm no computer wiz. You would need to contact a computery person to fix that problem.

Extra Materials for Acrylic Painters
Painters using acrylics can do all the same techniques presented in these projects, but the trick for them is to keep their paints wet on the palette and on the painting itself, which just means using one or all of three things to help with that - a stay-wet-palette, a water spray bottle to spray the palette and the painting every few minutes, and a retarder medium to slow the drying time of the paint. It also pays to mix twice as much paint as you think you will need because big piles of paint dry out much slower than small ones, and you can waste a lot of time having to remix colours.


Gallery of the Month's Workshop Challenge Entries  

Painting Critiques

Demo Painting

"There's room for you" 16x20" Acrylic on Canvas by Russell Kells

Hi Russell, congratulations for grabbing the reigns and inventing your own painting as you have from your own photo. It's notoriously difficult to invent lighting on objects like this but you've done a pretty good job. I took the liberty of fiddling with your painting in photoshop to see how I might change the lighting to make the whole painting a little more convincing. Basically I think you need more greys in the painting, especially on the shadow sides of the buildings and their reflections. Doing that allows the colourful sunset to feel much more powerful in comparison. I love your composition too, but the one thing I'd change there is the placement of the corner of the building that is currently lining up too neatly with the left side of the gondolier.

Demo Painting   photoshopped
The original painting   Fiddled in Photoshop



Demo Painting

"Evening Gold" 12x13" Oil on Canvas by Marianne Rodwell

Good job Marianne. The things you did really pretty well in this painting are your overall value structure (that is, the difference between your lights, mid values and darks), your drawing is good except for the angled approach you took to the side of the boat which looks a bit odd, the orange fenders look beautiful, even if two of them have shrunk with the cold water, and your seagull's great too. Oh and the subtle value changes you made in the distant city is good work- very mystical looking.

A few things I would look at changing are the muddiness of some of the colours which you have where cools and warms have been brushed together too much, I would add more light into the sky especially around the sun and its reflection to break up the background a little more, grey the blue off a little and darken the light stripes on the left side of the boat which are jumping out too much. I hope that helps.


Demo Painting

"Evening On Winyah Bay, South Carolina, USA" 8x10" Oil by Nora Mackin

Hi Nora, great to see you making your own composition from this project - very inventive. The design is interesting in that my eye follows the boats in a circle around the painting, but those poles being all so similar and similarly spaced makes something of a visual barrier to the painting and I almost wish it wasn't there. Maybe that's just me. Your colours have become very muddy in places where you've used neutral grey instead of greyed colour, but the glowing effect you've achieved in the sky and water is great. You could look at darkening some of the shadows inside the dinghies to give a more convincing realism and maybe one or three of those orange fenders would help add interest to that grey foreground. I like the freedom of your brushwork but being more careful when it comes to key areas like the shape of the dinghies will really help this painting. Close though! Keep up the good work Nora.


Demo Painting

"Workshop#29" 10x14" Watercolour by Colleen McCafferty

Nice to see a watercolour version of this scene Colleen and I love the soft effects you've achieved with it which are quite ethereal. I do feel that there could be a little more weight and detail in the boat to contrast against the softness of the rest of the image. This side of the boat for instance could do with a darkening wash of blue-grey, especially the light stripe along the waterline which is poking out. The drawing of the boat is a little wonky too as the far side should be angled a bit lower. Looking at it in a mirror will let you see it anew. I assume the painting has been taken at a slight angle, otherwise the whole image needs to be tilted to the left to straighten it up. I guess you're dropping paint into damp areas to achieve some of those soft effects - really beautiful. Oh and, great seagull!


Demo Painting

"Night mum, Goodnight son" 10x14" Oils on Arches Huile paper 21x29cm by Janet Poole

Great painting Janet, good composition, great drawing, nice choice of colours and good brushwork. My only reservation is that the blue greys seem too cool compared to the warm sunset colours. See what you think of the changes I made in photoshop.

Demo Painting   Demo Painting
The original painting   Fiddled in Photoshop





My final painting


Demo Painting

"Evening Gold" 13x15" Oil on Canvas by Richard Robinson



Get the Demonstration Video
(Only available in the complete Mastering Sunsets course)

click for info
Mastering Sunsets
The Complete Course for Oils or Acrylics, Beginner to Advanced
Sunsets are one of the most alluring subjects for painters, but also one of the trickiest to get right. Learn the keys to painting successful sunsets in this comprehensive and inspiring course with New Zealand artist Richard Robinson.
2.5 Hours of easy to follow tutorials
7 Complete painting demonstrations
30 Student critiques
*80 Pages of printable lesson notes
Online colour harmony tool
Bonus online content
Running Time: 2.5 Hours
Format: DVD or View Online/Download

Workshop Signup



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