Watercolour Sunset for Beginners

watercolour sunset study debiriley.com

A basic watercolour sunset can be created by using a variegated wash with winsor lemon and permanent rose colour mixes.  A couple of key factors:    limit your colours to avoid mud,  ensure the top of the sky is darker & the horizon is much paler  and Test the colours first.

watercolour sunset study debiriley.com
Watercolour Sunset Study debiriley.com

I like to apply the pale butter yellow at the horizon first, holding the paper upside down. Then adding into the yellow some tinges of light orange,  and back to yellow, then back to orange, then back to a rich deeper yellow, then a richer mango red scarlet towards to top that is much darker than the horizon.


Glazing.  Let the sky completely dry.

Only when the first wash is dry – will it be possible to achieve the beautiful luminous glow that can be seen in the photo where I have Glazed over the dry wash with the darker colour.

I mixed up a terracotta brown  from my rose and yellow with french ultramarine, thinned it down so it was not too thin and not too dense.  Then with my Rekab squirrel brush fully loaded, glazed the side of the hill with fast sure strokes.  No timid, wavering, or dabbing!


Next, straight away – while the hillside was still wet.  I made some suggestions of tree foliage shapes here and there, and quickly connected the foliage into the hillside.

I tried very hard, to make sure that the trunks and the branches were curving, crooked, twisting.  I wanted to make sure they were not straight, rigid, stiff. If the trunks and branches would have been straight and rigid – the whole painting would have taken a downturn.It would be more harsh, less inviting.

As it is,  its a nice free flowing, colourful image  with some movement in it.  This image demonstrates quite well the attributes of two basic watercolour techniques:  the variegated wash and the glazing technique.


Published by debiriley

The act of creation, in any media is a fascinating and magical process. I simply love to create. Expressing in color, line, tone, texture - as if, they were words upon a page. Creating a uniquely me, interpretation. Enjoy More of my "one-of-a-kind" expressive art at society6.com/debiriley and, redbubble.com/people/debijriley/shop

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