Painting During the Golden Hour

Headed North by Julie Gilbert Pollard, oil painting.

Headed North by Julie Gilbert Pollard, oil painting.

Add a Glow to Your Landscape Canvas

It’s no secret that landscape paintings filled with stunning light make us feel something extra, right? Sunsets on a landscape canvas can transport us to a time and place of serenity and calm. Painting during that spectacular time of day known as the “golden hour,” when light is at its best, is something to set aside time for, artists. You’ll be mesmerized with what you create.

landscape painting by Brian Keeler

Cayuga Moon, Sheldrake Point, NY (oil on linen, 30×36) by Brian Keeler. Contributions by Brian Keeler and Cherie Haas.

Inspirations from the Past

Painting the landscape, figure or portrait with dramatic light effects has a long and distinguished lineage of artists that we can look to for inspiration. The 17th century Baroque artists who portrayed the figure as their main theme is probably the best place to look for this artistic heritage, with painters like Caravaggio, Rembrandt, DeLatour, Velazquez, and others.

With the landscape painters it came a little later with painters such as Turner, Lorrain, and Constable. But our plein air proto-impressionist painter is Corot who trail-blazed in the Italian and French countrysides in the early 19th century, painting directly from the motif. The tradition of painting light in the landscape came to certain apogee in the last part of the 19th century with the impressionist painters and John Singer Sargent.

How to Paint It Yourself

Paint during the hours of high drama at the end of the day or sometime early in the morning. During these times of day, the raking light of the sun brings out the forms, chromo, and heightening essential aspects of the landscape. The quality of light gives us a good boost of juice to seize the moment and express what we see on our canvases.

Whether we’re looking directly toward a sunset, at the effects of late afternoon sunlight (observing the play of light as it courses over and around forms), or watching the cast shadows that reveal the topography, we avail ourselves of the inherent drama of atmosphere at its most sublime and dramatic. When skyscapes and clouds enter into our consideration they add another entire element to our expressive possibilities.

Over Watkins landscape painting by Brian Keeler

Over Watkins Glen, NY (oil on linen, 26×30) by Brian Keeler

Painting Strategies for the Golden Hour

+Do quick sketches ahead of time. There’s the chance that you only have moments to observe. Take them. Make quick references and color notes.

+If you decide to commit to painting in the moment, lay in the main divisions and articulate objects with a short hand of strokes to indicate strategically placed reference points. Try to get a more or less complete statement in one sitting, whether it be an hour or three or four.

+Take extra time and go back to the studio. Tune up the landscape canvas you’ve been working on by focusing on seeing the color story through, making any necessary compositional changes, and pushing them to completion.

Summertime Glow

Now that the last weeks of summer are upon us, I hope you find many mornings and evenings to enjoy the golden hour yourself, be it with a canvas and paint, or simply sitting outside and letting yourself watch the color drama and golden glow unfold. When you are ready to put your own unique spin on the golden hour, then Discover Oil Painting – How to Paint Skies & Clouds will be waiting for you. It’ll give you the strategies you need to create paintings to match the glory of Mother Nature and all her colors. Enjoy!

Courtney

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