View Full Version : Color choice for sunset (opposite)

11-23-2013, 05:48 PM
Hi everyone!
I hope somebody can shed some light on a small color choice doubt I have.
Here is the situation, I have made a quick sketch for my next painting to try and illustrate the issue I am having in choosing the right colors:


So, the sun should be indicated by the arrow on the left. It's basically behind the viewer.
Therefore, I'd like #3 to be a small portion of sky, and I guess it should be of a pinky blue hue. Correct? As it's the opposite side of the sunset

Now, as a (not visible) group of trees is in front of #1, this is supposed to be darker, also because it's the bottom of the woods. But of what color? I thought about a dark muddy green, but I am not sure It would cope well with the rest!

Then, the fiercest enemy! #2 I want these distant trees to catch the sunlight, but I guess they should somehow vanish a bit into the distance so I don't know exactly which color they should have, if goldy orange or pinky orange.... or anything else!

What I'd like to achieve is a transition between the dark under the trees right behind the horse, and the ones into the distance, brightly catching the sunlight.

Any suggestion, or better ideas on how to improve the composition? General colors tips are fine, but of course specific color hues suggestions are more than welcome! :)
I thought the horse, which is meant to be white, would stand out more if the trees behind it are dark.

Thanks in advance to everyone!

Harold Roth
11-23-2013, 09:59 PM
One thing is that the shadow for the bridge should be on the other side of the bridge, no? If the sun is where the viewer is. The way it is now, the shadow under the bridge makes it look like the sun is fairly high in the sky on the other side of the bridge.

White horse at sunset would be colored by the sunset. Also, it might be neat to put some light on the legs that are now in complete shadow.

Trees on the other side would be dull gold with dark green shadows, IMO. I see this in my south-facing yard with Norway maples that are lit by the setting sun on the other side of my house. Sky opposite the sunset where I'm at becomes just as you describe, a pinky blue, not as yellow as dawn.

Cool idea for a painting.

11-23-2013, 10:24 PM
It looks to me like the dark area was not meant to be the shadow of the bridge, but the reflection of the underside of the bridge. I could be wrong. The dark ark higher up in the picture although lighter is the shadow of the bridge and lighter to make it look more distant. I could be wrong about that also. Just a couple thoughts.

Harold Roth
11-23-2013, 11:09 PM
I see what you're saying now.

11-24-2013, 03:59 AM
Why not do some small colour studies on a bit of scrap paper to work out the best combination. I would think all the colours would have a warm glow from the sunset. Check out the sunset class (http://www.wetcanvas.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1274282) in my signature Workshops link, it may give you a few ideas.


11-24-2013, 05:08 AM
It's hard to choose specific colors for others. I suggest a limited palette of 5 colors: either a warm palette with one cool color added or a cool palette with one warm color added - plus one brown (brown madder, burnt sienna, etc). With a limited palette, colors can be mixed for a very wide variety of color and value. I would also draft print your sketch on card stock and try a few samples to see what you like.

11-24-2013, 05:49 AM
Thanks everybody for your hints!
Yes, the dark area right below the bridge is supposed to be its reflection in the water! :)

@Harold Roth: I used a reference photo for the horse, where the sun was about in the spot I wanted. So I guess the left legs should be in shadow, because of the horse's body...no?

As for my palette, I was willing to use a light underwash of raw sienna + burnt sienna to give a slight glow, then use permanent rose + cobalt blue for the sky, and as a final color lemon yellow, to be mixed with cobalt and raw sienna to get greens (and shades adding permanent rose).

I wonder if shadows (cast shadows) should be cool or warm. I read cast shadows should catch the color of the sky, so I assume they are more purple than during the day? On the other hand, I also read that warm light should cast cool shadows, and vice versa.


p.s. Yorky, thanks so much! Reading the link now!