Tips For Creating Stunning Sunset Paintings

Garden Tomb, Jerusalem painting
The Garden Tomb At Sunset

Capturing the beauty of a sunset in  oils is a popular genre of art for many artists. At one time or another most fine artists will choose to create one or sunset oil paintings. There’s just something about capturing the sun at its most beautiful moment of the day, right as the sun is going down. It’s a breathtaking phenomenon when the sun turns in for the night and twilight sets in, the moment when the sun’s rays radiate outward across the sky and horizon giving off vibrant shades of reds, yellows, purples and blues.


African art Camelthorn Trees“Camelthorn Trees of Africa”
Landscape painting by Teresa Bernard
24″ x 24″
Oils on stretched canvas

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Below are some helpful tips to creating stunning sunset oil paintings. When you use the following tips to create your sunset art, you will have more success in your paintings. Note: These tips can also apply to a sunrise painting.

  1. Keep in mind that no two sunsets are ever exactly alike. There are always differences in cloud formations and light effects.
  2. Oils are the best medium for painting a beautiful sunset painting because they blend seamlessly and easily.
  3. As you paint your sunset, think of a flashlight as being behind the clouds and wherever there is an opening a beam of light will shine through.
  4. The rays of sunlight should be painted like a railroad track or road going off in the distance by the use of perspective. This is achieved by using a vanishing point.
  5. When creating your composition, try to choose unusual angles to include in your painting. And remember, because your painting will be back-lit, the water and rocks will have cast shadows.
  6. Most sunsets use a variety of shades of orange, yellow, blues and purples, along with sienna and black. Keep your palette with as few colors as you can. Limited palettes are less confusing. Choosing only five to seven colors makes it easier to remember what colors you mixed for a specific part of the painting.
  7. Your color should be most pure and vibrant close up and then is toned down as it reaches the horizon. This creates depth in the painting.
  8. As you are painting a sunset it is important to keep cleaning your brush, this helps to stop your work becoming muddy.
  9. When painting a sunset on the water, the colors present in the sky will be reflected in the water.
  10. The sun should always be painted with pure, brilliant color and then adding darker colors to surround it. Lay in your colors in a circular manner and blend them together.
  11. Start your painting by blocking in large masses of colors, keeping your values simple. Continue until you have a composition that is to your satisfaction.
  12. Next, create the illusion depth in your work by including more detail in the foreground and diminishing detail as the distance increases.
  13. Paint with boldness and do not be overly concerned about adding any detail until your painting is almost finished.

Using these few tips will help you get the most from your painting session.

Additional Reading

Photographing the Setting Sun for Your Sunset Paintings

Paintings of Sunsets Collection

Sunset Over Texas

Austin TX sunset western painting

© Copyright 2001 – Present

Size: 12″ x 9″
Support: Canvas panel board

Artist Comments: The photo that inspired this sunset painting was borrowed from my brother-in-law who photographed this scenery. It was taken near Austin where he lives with his wife. Texas is known for having some of the loveliest sunsets in America. As a native of Texas, I can attest to that myself. This painting is part of the Life In Texas Series.

Note: This painting sold to a private art collector in Texas.


Cowboy Sunset

cowboy TX sunset painting

© Copyright 2012 – Present

Size: 24″ x 18″
Support: Gallery wrap stretched canvas
Description: A vivid sunset with the silhouette of a cowboy. This painting will not need a frame as the painted image extends around the edges of the canvas.


Purchasing Information
$420 Plus S/H





Artist Comments: Some of the most gorgeous sunsets in the world happen right here in Texas, but of course I might be just a tad bit biased in that regard. I love the bright, colorful sunsets that I have the privilege of enjoying almost every evening. I also love the idea of cowboys, horses and the Old West. I remember back in my childhood pretty much all you could watch on TV were westerns. It was a fantasy life all us kids dreamed about living someday. We would pretend to be cowboys and rode imaginary horses for hours until mom called us in for supper.

When my husband decided it was time to retire from the Navy and settle down to live life as civilians, we bought some land and built a small ranch in East Texas with a couple of horses, a donkey and a few head of cattle. It was our dream to live the cowboy way of life. The cowboy in this painting is of no one in particular, just a cowboy.

Some Funny Quotes About the “Cowboy Way of Life”

• If you’re riding ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.

• Always drink upstream from the herd.

• Don’t squat with your spurs on!

• Behind every successful rancher is a wife who works in town.

• Few cowboys ever owned much. The primary reward of being a cowboy is the pleasure of living a cowboy’s life.

This painting is part of the Life in Texas Series.


Calvary at Sunset

Christian art painting

© Copyright 2009 – Present

Size: 20″ x 16″
Support: Stretched canvas
Description: Sunset landscape painting of calvary, Christian themed art on stretch canvas depicts a silhouette of the cross.


Purchasing Information
$360 Plus S/H





Artist Comments: This painting is a religious themed landscape painting portraying the cross in silhouette against a colorful evening sky. It is not to be taken as the literal representation of the crucifixion of our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Rather it depicts that moment in time just after the disciples took His lifeless body down from the cross.

The Holy Bible tells us about this momentous historical event throughout its pages. From Scripture we learn that Jesus Christ endured the crucifixion from approximately 9 A.M until 3 P.M. and that His dead body was removed from the cross just before sundown. Whereas, the four New Testament Gospels describe some kind of supernatural phenomena which occurred at the moment of His death.

From the four Gospels we learn…

  • The Gospel of Matthew account mentions an earthquake,  the opening of the saints tombs in the vicinity and the resurrected saints making an appearance in Jerusalem.
  • The Gospel of Mark reveals how darkness spread throughout the land and the temple veil being ripped in two.
  • The Gospel of Luke tells us Jesus was crucified with criminals and that the Roman soldiers mocked Him and cast lots for His clothing.
  • The Gospel of John describes how the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head and that Jesus was crucified at Golgotha which means the place of the Skull.

Calvary At Sunset is part of a series of oil paintings called the Christian Art Series.