How to Paint a Sunset

How to Paint a Sunset

Posted by DecoArt on Jun 19th 2022

I can’t think of anyone who does not enjoy the beauty of a perfect sunset. Aren't we lucky that every day, the sunset gives us an array of beautiful colors shimmering before our eyes, truly one of the earth’s greatest gifts? Many of us artists have sought to capture the perfect sunset, whether it be in canvas art, photography, or other artistic mediums. Today I am presenting a tutorial to help you on your journey to paint the perfect sunset. This is a beginner-level tutorial. Whether you enjoy a sunset on the lake, the mountains, the beach, or your brown backyard, painting your favorite sunset can transport you to a wonderful place of peace and contentment.
Please share your work with me if you try this.
Let’s paint a sunset together!

For this sunset painting, I am using DecoArt Americana Acrylics with over 200 colors.  This is DecoArt’sflagship brand that I have been using for many years. It is simply one of the most solid paints to use for decorative, canvas artwork. It has a matte finish, is fast drying, and blends perfectly. I like working with acrylic like this because they are also able to be cleaned up easily with just soap and water.

How to Paint a Sunset Supplies

  • DecoArt Sunset Paint Set (Includes 8 Americana Acrylics & 19 Brushes)
  • 9 x 12 Canvas
  • 2 x 2 Canvas  for the miniature
  • 1" Masking Tape or 1" Painters Tape
  • 1/4" Masking Tape (you can but your 1" tape down) for the small canvas (optional)
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • Palette Paper or Foam Plate
  • Water Basin
  • Paper Towels
Video Instructions

Written Instructions

Begin by using your 1" masking tape and apply a piece to each edge creating a 1" border.

Mark a dot 3 1/4" from one long side of the canvas (12" sides), if you are not using a T-square ruler mark a dot on both ends of the canvas, using the ruler connect the dots drawing a line across for the horizon line.

Apply a piece of the 1" masking tape to this line.

Mix Cadmium Yellow and a little Snow White together (just creating an opaque yellow by adding a little bit of white to it), and apply above your tape to start the sky.  Using the Flat 12 brush, completely fill in the sky area.

Wipe your brush but do not wash it, now load the brush with a little Spiced Pumpkin, and using the very edge of the brush go back and forth softly to create some cloud areas. You will do the same with each color you apply in the sky using Bright Salmon, Primary Red.  Blend slightly with Yellow.  Mix Primary Red and Vivid Violet and place this up close to the red area. 

Add some white lines for clouds.

Paint the sun shape in using the Snow White. 

Remove the tape, and make sure your sky is dry.

Now, place masking tape above the horizon line slightly.

Mix Royal Navy some Cadmium Yellow to make a teal green color and then add a little Snow White to lighten and paint in the water starting at the horizon line.  As you move forward to the bottom right add more and more white to your brush and make the front part of the water lighter than the back.

On the brush pick up Royal Navy and Cranberry Wine to make a dark purple color and place this at the horizon line add some lines in the water with this color.

Mix Cadmium Yellow, Spiced Pumpkin, and Snow White to make a sand color and paint the sand in the bottom left corner.
Remove the masking tape at the horizon line

Using the Flat 8  brush add Snow White at the edge of the blue water on the sand and paint some lines coming from the sun down the sand. 

Dab White to the sand and sea areas to create depth.

Use the navy color to add shadow to the waves in the water.

Mix Royal Navy and Cadmium Yellow and Primary Red to make a dark green color and use the Flat 8 brush dab in some tree areas at the horizon line starting at the outer edge and getting smaller as you move closer to the sun.

Use this green colorto painta hill at the bottom right front.

Using the Round 3 brush thin you paint a little with water and using the tip of the brush pull some grass strokes up out of the hill. 

Add some dots on the tops of some of the grasses.

Pick up Cadmium Yellow on the brush and mix it with the green already on your brush and tap some on the trees and hills. 

Pick some Snow White on the same dirty brush and add a little of this here and there on the hills and grasses.

Using any of the colors you desire from the sky add lines of these into the water for reflection of the sky.

Remove the tape from the outer edge of the canvas and reveal your beautiful border.

As a fun additional project, I have been seeing so many artists paint mini canvases lately. I created a little mini sunset too. I just love having this one right on my desk to remind me of a vacation I have planned or just to take a breath and enjoy the day.

I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Please leave a comment or questions in the comment section below and I will be sure to get back to you! And be sure to share your sunset paintings with me!