View Full Version : Sunset Bursting Rays

01-08-2013, 12:04 PM
Oil Pastels
11x14: gessoed hardboard

Underpainting was completed with soft pastel and an alcohol wash.

This is the first in a four-part sunset series that I've started - underpaintings on each painting has been completed. I plan to do the one that Steve has in our January OP challenge - it's gorgeous and can't wait to paint it.

My challenge with oil pastels is that we can't do tint washes or glazes, as I wanted to do with the sun rays coming from behind and in front of the clouds - so I'll continue to work on applying thin layers you can see-through to see underneath colors. I did use (very gently) the pipe insulation pieces and they really helped spread ultra thin layers of paint w/o smearing - BTW I go through a tons of pieces but love working with the stuff. I'd be grateful for any suggestions.

This was based off an image by Robyn Lovelock (photographer from pmp) that I fell in love with a long time ago.


01-08-2013, 12:20 PM
Mary, this is super beautiful. You did the rays very well but what strikes me is the dark blues and purples mixed with the fiery colors of the sky you used for the shadow side of the clouds. Repeating that dark blue in the upper part of the sky and then all the colors in the lake very effectively creates lively drama in this exciting piece. Well done beautiful, dramatic work of art. I'm eagerly looking forward to the remaining three skyscapes.

01-08-2013, 12:38 PM
Fantastic & stunning, I would like to draw the same :)

01-08-2013, 02:40 PM
Hi Sammy: Thank you so much for your comments and feedback especially about the cloud colors. I was going to try neopastel violet, while it was the right value it didn't have a bit of punch that I was looking for. So I used lowest value in Holbien magenta and mungyo prussian blue and man-oh-man it was fun watching the colors form. Then I layed in a touch of neopastel indian red and a bit of burnt sienna. and finally the oranges were Holbeins antique orange - 3 different values. Guess you can tell I had a lot of fun w/this part of the painting.

Hi Hasan: Thank you so much for your comments - really appreciate hearing from you. Your sunsets are so brilliantly painted, as seen on your gr avatar - thank you so much for the compliment!

01-08-2013, 03:48 PM
Beautiful job

01-08-2013, 04:33 PM
This is stunning!

01-08-2013, 06:04 PM
This is a wonderful pieces! You have done an awesome job on the clouds and the reflections.


01-08-2013, 06:16 PM
Hi Trudi: Thank you for your wonderful comment!

Hi Donna: Thank you! The more I look, the more I see so many things I could change - I'm going to give it a rest and then go in and play a little (unless I chicken out).

Hi Linda: Thank you so much the clouds took forever, because I kept arguing with myself on the correct values and then, a simple black and white photograph solved that argument.

01-09-2013, 07:38 PM
Wow Mary, look at that sky!!! Those clouds are to die for!

Pat Isaac
01-09-2013, 08:06 PM
Wow, this is such a brilliant sky and sunset. The contrast is wonderful. I do wonder about the horizon line as it is at an angle....


01-09-2013, 10:32 PM
Totally agree with Pat....the sky and sunset is wonderful!! My thought was about the horizon too...it seems to be a bit downhill to the right. Could be the way the photo was taken?

01-09-2013, 10:33 PM
oops....that should be downhill to the left!

01-09-2013, 11:21 PM
Hi Michelle: Thank you for your comment. Most of the time painting was spent on the sky and clouds, thank you for mentioning them.

Hi Pat: Thank you! I had a fantastic reference photograph to work from. The scene is from New Zealand. The background on the right-side is a a hillside, slopping upward some, so that area maybe didn't read as well as it could. I'll have to revisit. Thanks for mentioning, will see if I can do something perhaps to the farthest left w/o disturbing the hillside. What do you think?

Hi Carly: Thank you so much for commenting, I really enjoyed working the sunset colors on this piece. I think I have some work to do still on certain areas of the clouds, but will let this rest for a while. If you could see my comment to Pat on the horizon, what are your thoughts?

01-10-2013, 01:09 PM
Hi Mary, this is an absolutely awesome sky !!

I can see the slope down to the left as mentioned by Pat and Carly and I think the reason it reads as a sloping horizon rather than a distant sloping hillside is that the far line of the water runs parallel with the hillside. I think levelling off the water should then allow the far land to read as a hill rising up to the right. I've seen various tutorials about painting water and it seems that "keeping your horizontals 'horizontal' " is usually mentioned in all of them

here is a quick and dirty PhotoShop mock up of what i was thinking.

01-10-2013, 01:17 PM
Hi Steve: Thank you so much for your comment, really appreciate it!

It took me a while to see what you referred to in your suggestion and then I saw and totally understood. You are absolutely right and your mockup works perfectly. I'll be going later today to work the water line.

Thank you, your example drives the point home!

Hey Pat and Carly, I got it now - will post the change.

Thanks!! Mary

01-10-2013, 10:10 PM
Thanks to Stee71....you showed it better than I could have said it. When I went back and looked at the painting again, I was going to suggest changing the water line. I know I tell my students all the time "water lies flat".

Still a really good painting!

01-10-2013, 10:35 PM
It 's beautiful! I love the sunset !

01-10-2013, 10:50 PM
Hi Carly: The more I thought about Steve's comments, the more I went back and mentally thought about all my other land/water paintings. (4-Marsh series, Pintail Drive, etc.) The one area that has consistently given me problems is water when it abuts land - I slope the water upward slightly, but for the life of me it's one of those areas I really have to work at. Thanks for commenting.

Hi Jiemin: thank you so much, I really appreciate hearing from you on this painting!

01-11-2013, 12:01 AM
Mary, water gives all of us a challenge....so don't feel alone. One thing I try to remember when doing my first sketches is that where the water meets the land...it's a straight line. That line may rise or fall with the change of the land mass, but it will still be horizontal. If there is a curve in the land mass going back into the landscape...that's where you have to use short straight lines along the edge to show the water lying against the banks.

I paint rising water or falling water with the tide along the river banks here in the lowcountry...so it's an ongoing challenge to make the painting look realistic.

01-11-2013, 09:00 AM
Hi Carly: thanks for the advice. Amazing thing, I have to force myself to really stay focused on this area of my water scenes. I also think I need to bring my background land mass down just a little bit more, rather than raise them - if that makes any sense (I tend to move the water up, rather than a land mass down - thus the water slant). Working on another sunset and we'll see what happens, I'm just starting the water section. A bit of mind over matter for me.

It is as the saying goes: paint what I see, not what I think I see.

Thanks, a forever learning process - that I welcome.

01-11-2013, 12:23 PM

01-11-2013, 05:56 PM
Hi RainySea - so nice to hear from you. Thank you, appreciate it!

01-11-2013, 06:59 PM
Great sense of drama and use of color Mary!

01-12-2013, 09:09 AM
Hi Marcus, thank you for commenting. This scene was perfect for building drama and colors through the oil pastel layers. The reaction of one color to another was pretty interesting.

01-12-2013, 10:04 PM
Can't wait to see your next sunset!

01-15-2013, 03:12 PM
Mary, it's stunning. The orange sunlight edging the clouds and the reflection in the water is beautiful.

01-16-2013, 03:24 PM
Hi Helen: Thank you so much for commenting on the painting. This was an exciting painting to do, I think because the colors were so brilliant from what I usually paint. The reflections were great fun to paint. Thanks!