Sunrise and sunset paintings
“Comes Into the Light,” Karen Ann Hitt, 2020, oil, 30 x 36 in., Available from artist, Studio

An endless source of inspiration for poets, painters, and romantics of all stripes, sunrises and sunsets have known positive psychological effects on observers. To capture these fleeting moments of color and drama, plein air painters must work quickly and home in succinctly on the stories they want to tell. The eight paintings showcased here provide a welcome excuse to hit the pause button on our day and relish the sun’s glorious effects as it rises or descends over the landscape.

sunset paintings
Sunset Glow at the Weir
Poppy Balser
2019, watercolor, 12 x 16 in.
Private collection
Plein air

On “Sunset Glow at the Weir” above: “Made to catch herring, this weir includes 30-foot-plus sheets of netting, which are mostly underwater at high tide,” says Poppy Balser. “I like painting weirs because the sheer netting and poles offer intriguing compositions. The building of weirs is also a vanishing practice, and I want to document them while I still can. I painted this sunset scene at low tide during the 2019 Parrsboro International Plein Air Festival, where it received the Best in Show award.”

sunset paintings
Sunset at the Ranch
Angie Malin
2020, oil, 12 x 16 in.
Available from artist
Studio from plein air study
sunset paintings
Walden Sunset
Lamya Deeb
2012, oil, 8 x 10 in.
Private collection
Plein air
sunrise paintings
Sunrise Sail
Andre Lucero
2017, oil, 24 x 30 in.
Available from J M Stringer Gallery, Vero Beach, FL
Plein air
Sunrise and sunset paintings
Summer Valley Sunset
David Harms
2018, oil, 12 x 16 in.
Private collection
Studio from plein air studies
Sunrise and sunset paintings
Island Glow
Catherine Hillis
2020, watercolor, 8 x 15 in.
Collection the artist
Plein air and studio
sunset paintings
Coastal Sunset
Scott Gellatly
2020, oil on panel, 8 x 8 in.
Private collection
Studio from plein air studies

Are you more pulled toward painting the sunset or sunrise? Tell us in the comments below!

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  1. I would love to paint sunrises. I have several pictures taken from my window of sunrise but still keep thinking about how to tackle them.

    • I find that using a rag to scrub off the paint leaves a transparency which is useful in painting the sky. Mixing blue with white creates an opacity that is hard to deal with. i like to start with thinned oil paint and put down a watercolor effect to start with. Sometimes I watch demonstrations by Jed Dorsey. He doesn’t try anything like I described above, rather just puts down what he sees, uses a lot of white, limited palette, still gets exciting color. He understands mixing color like a master. He does work on a colored canvas, often black, uses acrylic. You could look up acryli
      cu, that’s Acrylic University. M. Harper

  2. I love the sunrises and sunsets. I painted 30 days of ‘September Sunsets’ for the Strada easel challenge last month. It was an adventure to lay in the color in a limited time. Some evenings were rainy & stormy that made for lovely color as well.

  3. I am very disappointed. I am a tonalist coastal painter and have studied and painted the sunset most of my life living by the water always. In fact the town of Mantoloking’s lore is that it was named by the Indians meaning “beautiful sunset. Its in NJ! Really! Van Gogh should have seen our light! We are sadly never recognized. But then maybe its our best kept secret! katie


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