Texas is known for its many beautiful sunsets in the evening sky. Growing up in Texas, I had opportunity of a lifetime of observing many beautiful skies filled with a wide array of shades of orange, yellow, purples and blues. Is it any wonder that I would choose to create sunset oil paintings as part of my repertoire of art? Sunsets are certainly a favorite genre of oil painting for me because of the many bright colors. I also appreciate the fact that the sky at sunset (or sunrise) can be incorporated into many different settings of landscapes, seascapes, and even skyscapes.
I love beautiful sunset oil paintings and I’m not alone. Here’s why:
Sunset paintings are a picturesque representation of the evening sky and sun in all its grandeur and splendor. Just the way God intended.
Artists worldwide love to paint sunsets because it gives them opportunities to include vibrant shades of yellow, orange, blue and purple, along with earth colors of dark browns and rich blacks which work together to create warmth and charm within the wall art.
The rays of light that bounce off and peek through the clouds create excitement and drama like no other. They catch the eye of the viewer drawing him/her in.
Sunsets are for romantics and many artists of oil paintings have captured the romance of a setting sun in some of the most exotic places in the world. Sunset paintings in these settings allow the viewer to be whisked away in their imaginations to some faraway places.
Sunset paintings look great in just about any room of your home, office, or place of business.
Sunsets have been a favorite genre of mine to paint throughout my life as an artist. Sunsets (and sunrises) are beautiful subjects for paintings with the rich, vibrant, warm colors like red, yellow and orange. They may be outlined with the beach, sea or mountains. And clouds are also an integral part with their multitudes of colors as the they capture the last rays of the setting sun. Each painting below is an original painted by me. Several of the ones shown are also part of other collections or series.
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas
This is a sunrise painting I was commissioned to paint. Sunrises are also a favorite of mine and this one particular is no exception. I love the way the warmth of the sun begins to peek from behind the building on the peer and shine down in the water and bath the side of the boat.
Oscar-Claude Monet (14 November 1840 – 5 December 1926) was a French Impressionist artist who lived around the turn of the 20th century. He is best known for his water lily paintings, as well as, for many other oil paintings including sunsets. In his paintings Monet loved to paint the same location during the different seasons of the year and various times of the day to experiment how light shown across the sky and other objects within his paintings. His sunset paintings are most noted for their bold use of reds, yellows, oranges, blues and purples that make up his complex and lively sky scenery. Obviously sceneries of sunsets and sunrises were perfect opportunities to introduce vibrant color balances to tried and tested locations giving them a new fresh look.
Some of his most famous sunset paintings include:
Grainstacks At Giverny, Sunset
In 1890 and 1891, Monet painted a group of pictures of the stacks of wheat (referred to as grainstacks or haystacks) in the fields near his home. This sunset painting is part of the Haystack series and one of the three grainstack paintings. The grainstacks represented the prosperity of the village near where he lived.
The Church At Varengeville Against The Sunset
The view in this painting is across a gorge to the cliff-top church at Varengeville. This sunset view of Varengeville is from a series of four painted by Monet. The light from behind the church dissolves its form and catches the foliage in the foreground.
Valley of the Creuse, Sunset
Monet spent all of the spring of 1889 in Fresselines, a village along the Creuse river, exploring this world through his artist’s eyes. Between March and May, he painted a series of nine canvases inspired by this landscape, which he described as “a place of terrific and savage beauty”.
This painting depicts the port of Le Havre at sunrise, the two small rowboats in the foreground and the red sun being the focal elements. Impression Sunrise is generally acknowledged as one of Monet’s most influential of his paintings.
Houses of Parliament, Sunset
One of the 19 known paintings by Monet in the Houses of Parliament series. This painting represents a pallet of purples, reds and yellows to create an inspiring skyline. A feature present in many sunset paintings painted by Claude Monet.
Twilight Venice This work is the most reproduced of all Monet’s paintings. The reason for this is obvious when one observes the splash of color across the sky and reflected in the water below. It is highly artistic and features the beautiful city of Venice Italy.
Sunset on The Seine in Winter This sunset painting is a stylish and charming one because of its colors and contrasts. It includes a nice blend from sea to sky with a red sun which captures your attention. The landscape is featured with neutral green colors and blue tones which makes the entire work hold together quite nicely.
Artist Claude Monet is considered one of the greatest oil painters of all time. His paintings are highly favored and sought after by art collectors world wide. Claude Monet sunset paintings can be viewed at art galleries around the world.
If you enjoyed these fine sunsets, you will want to check out more fine art paintings of this genre. See Paintings of Sunsets Collection by artist Teresa Bernard.
Oil paint comes in two grades: artist grade and student grade. The main difference between the two types is the potency or concentration of the pigment that is in the paint. What this means is, artist grade oil paint will stretch further than student grade will because it contains more pigment. Artist grade paints (sometimes called professional paints) are made from the purist ingredients and contain a higher ratio of pigment to oil base. That ratio can be as high as 75% pigment to 25% oil base for some colors. This usually makes them more expensive to purchase than student paints. However, it also means artist grade paints will be more economical in the long run as they can be stretched further than student grade. Also, artist paints have better mixability and truer color because there are no fillers like there are in student grade paints.
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
16″ x 12″
Oils on stretched canvas
Student grade colors are often called “hues” on the label. The word “hue” means imitation or fake. This means that the pigment is artificial and not a true pigment. For example: Cadmium Red Hue is an imitation version of the true pigment known as Cadmium Red. Student grade paints were created to reduce the cost or toxicity of true pigments.
They have different mixability and opacity characteristics than do true pigments and they tend to get muddy and dull when mixed together. Student grade of paint is cheaper because of the ingredients – they contain less pigment and more filler. Filler costs much less than the purer, concentrated ingredients in artist grade paints. However just because the paint is priced cheaper, does not mean it is more economical. When mixing color with student grade paint you will need much more paint to get the final color you are trying to mix because the strength of the pigment is weaker (less potent) in student grade paint and will actually take more paint to mix the color you desire than if you used the stronger (more potent) artist grade. In addition, student grade oil paints come in fewer colors than artist grade oil paints.
Whenever possible, it’s best to purchase artist quality paint rather than student because you get more pigment in a tube and the results from color mixing are more intense and brighter. In addition, if you mix student grade with artist grade, you risk reducing the quality of the better grade paint, rather than improving the quality of the lesser grade. If you need to save money, consider painting on smaller canvases or using the lesser grade paints as the under-painting saving the finer quality paints for the upper layers.
Knowing which oil paint is best suited for your particular needs will save you time and money in the long run. Do a little research on your own, compare labels and prices. Look at some consumer reports and reviews written by other artists. You should be able to find the type that suits you best.
I hope this article takes some of the mystery out of which oil paints to use for your paintings. Being more familiar with the materials you work with will make you a better artist.
There is such a wide selection of oil paint brands available it’s hard to know where to begin. Hopefully when you finish reading this article you will have a little better idea of what oil paint is and which one to use.
The Ingredients in Oil Paint
Oil paints are made up of pigment that has been ground into an oil base, called the vehicle or binder. The most commonly used vehicle is cold-pressed linseed oil, however, it can be made with walnut oil, poppy seed oil, safflower oil or other less popular oils.
Linseed oil comes from the flax seed and gives oil paints a longer drying time. This allows the paint to be worked with for longer periods of time, sometimes even up to several months. The advantage of a longer drying time means the artist can develop a painting by making changes and corrections at the artists leisure. A disadvantage of longer drying times, is the painting might take months or years to completely dry depending upon how thick the paint was applied to canvas. This might be an issue if you have a customer anxiously waiting for the painting to dry so he/she can take possession it.
The pigment is where paint gets its color. A paint color gets its name from the pigment that is used. We first got our pigments from the earth in the form of rocks or powder, but now it is also manufactured from synthetic materials. Some of the oldest pigments known to man are made from colored earth like Yellow Ochre, Sienna and Umber. Other pigments are derived from mineral salts such as White Oxide.
“Life in Texas — Round Hay Bales”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
16″ x 20″
Oils on stretched canvas
Pigment can be divided into two categories, these are:
Natural pigments – A pigment derived from naturally occurring compounds, either inorganic, such as rocks, minerals and metals; or from organic ones, such as plants and animals. Examples include Mars Brown which comes from iron oxide or Ivory Black which comes from charred animal bones. Natural pigments have been around for centuries and were used by the Old Masters who would make their own paints just prior to starting a painting session. A lot of the natural pigments in use today are manufactured from inorganic substances.
Synthetic pigments – An artificial pigment made by chemists from carbon based molecules derived from petroleum substances, acids and other chemical compounds. Most of the oil paints we use today are made from synthetic pigments, such as quinacridone, pthalocyanine and dioxazine. Fortunately these paints have maintained their natural pigment names for historical and cultural reasons.
There is very little difference between the modern day natural and synthetic pigments in regards to their potency of color and ability to mix well with other oil paints. However an important factor to consider in any paint is its lightfastness. Lightfastness is a paints ability to resist fading when exposed to ultra violet light. This is important because it determines the length of time a pigment will retain its original color. In other words, it determines the life expectancy of the work of art. A pigment must have lightfastness and they must not break down chemically or physically if the work is going to last through the ages like the Old Master’s.
To determine the lightfastness of your oil paints, look for the official American Society for Testing and Materials Standard (ASTM) rating information on the labels of each individual tube of paint. The ASTM is an independent organization that was established to create a worldwide standard for pigment permanence. The following pigment ratings were established in 1984.
ASTM I – Excellent
ASTM II – Very Good
ASTM III – Not Sufficient enough to be used in artists’ paints
Obviously you would want your oil paints to have a lightfastness of a I or II.
Bristle is the term used for the hairs that make up the brushhead of a brush used for painting. The brushhead is the part that holds and delivers paint to the surface of an artist’s canvas. Bristles are made from two types of hair, these are natural hair and synthetic hair.
There are two main types of hair used in natural brushes, these are bristle and sable. Because natural bristles are softer than synthetic bristles, professionals prefer them for oil paints.
are made from the hairs on the back of a pig and are stiff and springy. They have natural “split-ends” making them perfect for oil painting as they are durable enough to withstand use with heavy oil paint, textured canvas and harsh solvents like turpentine. They clean up nicely, and they make a strong mark on the canvas. Bristle brushes are best in sizes of a half inch wide or larger. They are best when used in large areas of a canvas, to begin a painting, or for very large paintings. Entire paintings can be painted using only bristle brushes, however, if you want finer detail in smaller areas, you would want to switch to sable brushes.
do not come from sables. They are actually made from any member of the weasel family with “red” hair. Sable brushes are softer and more delicate than bristle or synthetic brushes. They can also be quiet expensive and require more care. Sables are great for blending, glazing, and making soft, less-defined marks. They make great detail brushes. The best sizes for this brush are those one half inch in width or smaller. Artists painting with oils often prefer their long handles which allows them work at a greater distance from their painting.
Some less common natural hairs used for painting brushes are badger, camel, goat, mongoose, ox, pony, and squirrel.
Synthetic brushes are man-made either of nylon or “Taklon”, a polyester filament. Synthetic bristles offer more versatility than natural because they can be used with acrylic and oil paints. These brushes are a good economical alternative to natural bristle brushes, however, make sure they are made for oil paints.
Some advantages of synthetic brushes are:
They are more resistant to damage from turpentine, insects or paints.
Cleanup is easier since they don’t tend to trap paint in the individual hairs.
The hairs last longer because they are less prone to break and are more durable on many different types of canvas surfaces.
“Forgotten Roads of Bygone Days”
Landscape by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 18″
Oils on gallery wrap stretched canvas
One of the hardest things about being a working artist is marketing your work. Without this necessary part, your artworks won’t be seen by the public and no one will be able to tell you how much they love it, or even purchase it. It’s time to find out some ways to get those artworks out where they can be admired and enjoyed by others for years to come. This article will look at various ways an artist can promote their masterpieces.
First Things First
Before you embark on any marketing campaigns, you will need a few things first. There are some important self promotional items you will need to have on hand if you are remotely serious about selling your artwork. These items should include:
Printed marketing materials — Business cards, postcards, brochures and flyers. You need to keep these with you at all times to pass out wherever you go. Your business card should include your name (of course), your website, and contact info. Brochure and flyers should have the same info as your business card, but also have examples of your work plus any descriptions of it. You may even want to include a brief artist bio as well. Flyers can serve as an announcement of where interested individuals may go to see your work in person, such as that local art fair where you are set up at or the art gallery where your work is on display, for example. At the very least you should have business cards.
Art Website — This is a handy tool at your disposal that be should used as a digital portfolio of your work. It can go places you can’t and put your artworks in front of potential buyers in ways you can not. It is open 24/7 where interested persons can see your work at any time of the day or night, find out more information about you as an artist and even purchase some if they so choose. In my opinion, a website is an absolute necessity.
Getting Yourself Out There
A huge part of marketing is making sure you’re doing something everyday that will continually put your works of art in front of potential buyers. To accomplish this you have to get your artwork into the public’s eye. That means displaying your work where they frequent. Those places could be:
Local events — State fairs, festivals, rodeos, art shows, art competitions, street shows, flea markets, outdoor concerts, etc.
Local places where the crowds go — Tourist spots, the beach, street corners, parks, roadside parks, etc. All are great places to display your works. If your art is the type you can set up and work on location, by all means do so! Passer-byes love to watch. You just may get a commission or sell some of your work on the spot.
Local businesses — Cafés, restaurants, hotel lobbies, bank lobbies, lawyer’s offices, doctor’s offices, library, schools, hospitals, etc.
Local galleries — Art galleries, co-operative galleries, museums, etc.
Local publicity — Community publications, county newspapers, area newsletters, radio, TV news, press releases, etc. Just about anything that will get you more exposure.
Local charities — Charity events and fund raisers, community projects, local schools, etc. Your involvement in worthwhile causes gets you exposure and recognition as an artist.
Online — Your art website and blog, online art galleries, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Deviantart, Fine Art America, Ebay, Etsy, Amazon, Craig’s List, etc.
Keep in mind, your art won’t sell itself. And even if it did, you still have to let everyone know about it. Marketing and self promoting is an ongoing effort that can not be neglected. Good luck!
How much is your art worth? How do you determine what the asking price is for your works of art? If you are interested in selling your art but don’t know what to ask for it, I believe the key to pricing artwork is by doing a little bit of market research. And the first place to start your research is by finding other similar artists in your media. This task can be accomplished by two methods. One is using the Internet and the other is by physically visiting places where artwork like yours is being displayed for sale.
Go to Google or any other search engine and type in the type of artwork that you do, such as, “oil paintings”, “stain glass windows”, or “ceramic figurines”, for example. Visit the sites of these other artists and see what they are charging for similar quality and size work as yours.
Another place to do some market research online is eBay and other auction sites. These sites will help provide a realistic viewpoint of what is available and what people are actually willing to pay for art like yours. You want to find out the winning bids. This will give you insight as to what people are paying for the type of work you do. Some other sites to investigate could be Etsy, Amazon or Fine Art America, to name but a few.
Research on Foot
Visit art galleries in person to find artworks similar to yours. Keep in mind these works of art will be priced much higher to include commissions for the gallery owner. The artists will also be more well-known and will naturally command higher prices just on the basis of who they are. The gallery visit will give you a good feel of how much the higher end pieces are going for in the marketplace and will give you a price point to shoot for once you become more well known as an artist.
You will also want to go to local art shows and craft fairs to find out what other artists in your media are selling their work for. Ask the vendors lots of questions and take notes. Don’t neglect visiting the art studios of local artists. You can learn a lot when you talk directly to the artist, see the quality of the work they do and listen to what they can tell you about where and how they market their work.
By using this two-step method you’ll be well on your way to figuring out the ideal price to charge for your artwork. All it takes is a little bit of research, some market testing and tweaking. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pricing your artwork. Try to be subjective when pricing. Test your pricing structure and ask your potential customers what they would be willing to pay for pieces of art like yours. This will result in some valuable information and ultimately lead to sales. Keep in mind your art is only worth what others are willing to pay for it. Create value in your reputation as an artist and over time the public will be willing to pay more for your work.
Now that you have determined what the asking price is for your work, it is time to get busy and start marketing and selling your creative works. For more information on many of the different ways to market your works of art, see the article title “Ways To Market Your Artwork”.
The word “mahl stick” comes to us from the Dutch word maalstok which means “painter’s stick”. It’s a handy little tool that has been around for centuries used by artists. Many of the Old Masters regularly used them as they were putting paint to canvas on many of their masterpieces. We often see paintings from the 16th- through 19th-centuries depicting artists in their studios, at their easels, etc and the mahl stick is often there, included as part of the painter’s equipment.
Artists use this painter’s stick to steady their hand when attempting to paint minute details on their canvas art. Most oil painting artists paint with their canvases resting upright on an easel and sometimes its hard to get your hand into just the right position without resting it on your canvas. This is a problem if the surface is delicate or the paint is wet. You can’t just plop your hand in the middle of your work. To do so, would mean smudging or smearing your artwork. That’s when a mahl stick comes in handy.
A mahl stick is simply a long round stick that is approximately three feet in length with a ball or knob on one end. Usually the knob end has a ball or wad of cotton on it that is surrounded by soft leather or chamois. The chamois will keep it from slipping on the surface and can easily be removed for cleaning or replaced when it gets soiled. You use the painter’s stick by resting the ball-end on the edge of the canvas, easel or dry spot of the painting. Then hold the other end up with your non-painting hand and steady your hand holding the brush on the stick while you paint. If you’re right handed, you would hold the mahl stick with your left hand and if you are left handed, you’d hold it with your right. It should be light enough so your hand that holds the stick will not get tired.
“Camelthorn Trees of Africa”
Landscape painting by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 24″
Oils on stretched canvas
A mahl stick is something you can purchase online or from a local art supply store, or you can simply make one yourself. They can be made from any round piece of wood that you have on hand such as an old broom handle, half inch dowel or piece of bamboo. Whatever it is, it should be lightweight yet strong enough to resist bending under the weight of your hand. One end should be easy to grip. This can be achieved by wrapping it with some sports tape like the handle of a hockey stick or tennis racket. The other end of the painter’s stick needs to be bulky by adding a ball-shaped piece of wood or a rubber tip like what is used on the end of walking canes. You would then wrap it with a bit of cloth to prevent it from slipping or scratching the canvas. It can be tied on by using a piece of string.
I hope this article takes a little bit of the mystery out of mahl sticks and also provided a useful painting tip.
One of the greatest compliments I ever received was from a renown artist who, after having viewed several of my paintings, pointed out that I had my own art style. I was surprised to hear that, because without realizing it, through the years, I had actually developed my own unique style of painting. Up until that day I hadn’t given much thought to even having my own style much less trying to develop one. What’s more, I barely even knew what an art style was. I knew all the Old Masters had it, or so I was told, and that it was something good to have. So I set out to find out more about artistic style, what it is and where it comes from.
What exactly is art style?
Artistic style is a specific characteristic or group of characteristics that is consistently present in the artworks of an artist. It’s that extra little thing, referred to as “identifiable style,” that an artist does to distinguish his/her work from the work of other artists.
Many artists, whether they realize it or not, have an identifiable style of painting. Their personal style is neither good or bad. It is simply the result of the particular choices and decisions a painter makes in the course of composing their oil paintings. These decisions are what defines the identity of an artist’s style and is made up of a combination of the mediums, technique and subject matter chosen. It’s not that an artist chooses to paint landscapes, still life or portraits — those are only genres. Rather, it is HOW the artist handles each of the various art elements (line, form, texture, value, color and shape) that make up the composition. Click for more information about the basic art elements.
Should you develop an art style of your own?
If you ever hope to be taken seriously as an artist, then I would definitely say “YES,” for the following reasons:
(1) Developing your own original style will help to define you and set you apart from other artists. It’s your individuality and uniqueness as an artist.
(2) It’s what allows others who view your work and know that it is a work painted by you without having to look at the signature on the canvas.
(3) It offers you a way to have personal satisfaction from your works by expressing your own ideas and inner vision.
(4) If you plan to display your paintings in art galleries, then a distinct art style is something a gallery owner or curator will want to see in your work.
(5) Finally, developing your own style is a necessary thing if you want your paintings to capture the eye of art collectors. Many collectors hold to a certain opinion of, “if it looks just like the real thing, then I’ll just take a photograph and hang it on the wall.” For many art connoisseurs, an artist’s personal style is the essence of the art.
How do you develop your personal painting style?
Before I can tell you how to do that, I first need to tell you how to absolutely NOT develop one. You won’t develop your own style by copying the works of other artists. Let me repeat that. If you copy the works of another artist, you will never develop a unique art style of your own. The reason for this is when you copy someone’s work, you are merely imitating the choices and decisions that have already been made by the artist who’s work you are copying. Novice painters often do this. They copy the works of other artists they like and this is a disservice to the world of art. As long as they continue to do this, they will never develop their own form of unique artistic expression and move beyond being a mere hobbyist to a serious artist or even a professional one. Your style is developed by the decisions and choices YOU make about the different elements that go into your painting.
An artist’s unique style does not develop over night. It evolves over time as a result of either conscious or unconscious effort on the part of the artist and it will most likely change a number of times as the painter grows as an artist. The best way to develop a style is to do a lot of painting. In doing so, you can expect your style to progress as you acquire more experience, knowledge and skills. As you move from painting to painting, you will find that certain artistic characteristics or qualities will keep reoccurring. This is your unique style. One thing to keep in mind about style is that you do not have to stick with the same one all your life. You can change it at any time and you will be surprised to find that it can and often does evolve.