This is one of my paintings from Vancouver Island, British Columbia. I grew up in Port Hardy, at the northwest tip of the island, which has the most amazing beaches. Even though I have moved many times since then, the northwest coastal climate always feels most like “home” to me, and I have painted many scenes from this area. This painting is from Tofino, a place further south down the island:
Vancouver Island Sunset, 22″ x 28″ acrylic on canvas, copyright © Kathryn Beals
I’m calling this one a sunset, but to me it could be either the glow just before dawn or just after dusk. Here are some detail closeups with the scraggly trees on the rock against the colors of the sky:
I find it’s tricky to get the right combination of blues, yellows and pinks in a sunrise or sunset without it looking too bright. A little bit of pink and purple go a long way. I always end up starting with too much color, and then blending in some white to take it back. Glazing medium can be really helpful for skies, because it slows the drying time of your paints and allows you to blend for longer while you’re figuring out the right balance. Acrylic paints dry relatively fast (especially in a hot dry climate) so mixing in a few drops of glazing medium on your palette helps to buy you a bit more time. With most of my skies, I don’t have a plan of how they will look when I start painting, I just begin with colors I like and blend directly on the canvas.
I usually do skies in one sitting, as quickly as possible, and then let the canvas dry for a few hours before doing the rest of the painting. This is one of those paintings where I find my Sta-wet palette really helpful, because I can keep my same color mixes wet and use them later. After painting the sky, I used the same colors (blended with black and white) to paint the water:
One thing that helped me was to visualize the water getting lighter in shade as it gets closer to the horizon, with the lower beach being dark and the water at the horizon (farthest away from the viewer) fading to pure white: