Easy Watercolour Sunset - Step by step | Emily Curtis | Skillshare

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Easy Watercolour Sunset - Step by step

teacher avatar Emily Curtis, Artist/Painter

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

11 Lessons (20m)
    • 1. About the Class

    • 2. Art Supplies

    • 3. Water Practice

    • 4. Choosing the Colours

    • 5. Applying the Masking Fluid

    • 6. Painting the Sky - Part 1

    • 7. Painting the Sea

    • 8. Painting the Sky - Part 2

    • 9. Adding Definition

    • 10. Removing the Masking Fluid

    • 11. Class Project

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About This Class

Have you ever wanted to capture the majesty of a sunset? This class is all about how to do just that.

In this class you’ll learn an easy process for painting a powerful, red sunset using watercolours. I’ll guide you step-by-step from choosing the colours to producing the finished piece. By the end of this class you’ll have your very own sunset painting and all the techniques you’ll need to recreate the piece in any colours you like.

In this class you will learn:

  • How to select colours for a sunset
  • An easy technique to paint water
  • How to get the best out of your square brush
  • The step-by-step process to paint this watercolour sunset

This class is suitable for all skill levels from beginner to professional as everything is laid out easily for you to follow along.

If you like this class, please leave a review to help me improve.

Happy Painting!

E xx

Meet Your Teacher

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Emily Curtis




Hi there! I'm Emily Curtis.

I'm a full-time artist who specialises in acrylic and watercolour painting. I produce work which portrays atmosphere and emotion, often inspired by moments in nature and urban life.

My love of painting began as a child when I was mesmerised by the colours in the fields surrounding my home. I spent hours watching sunsets and soon became obsessed with recreating the beauty of the world on paper. Now, I use my art to prolong the moments that often feel too fleeting to be observed in everyday life.

I followed my passion into adulthood and gained a Fine Art Foundation Diploma from the University of Arts London. My art has also been seen in magazines such as 'World of Int... See full profile

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1. About the Class: Hello. My name's Emily Curtis. I'm a full time artist based in the UK, and I specialize in acrylic and watercolor painting. Today I'm going to show you how to paint this vibrant sunset Seascape. This piece is super easy to paint, and you don't need any prior knowledge off watercolors for this class as I'm going to walk you through all the techniques, step by step. First, we're going to talk through all the art supplies you're going to need and any replacements you can use. We'll have a practice off the basics of painting the movement of the sea and how to get the best out of your square brush. I'll then take you through all the colors we're going to use and how to mix them. In the main section of this class. I'll take you through a step by step tutorial of how to paint this beautiful sunset for your class project. All you have to do is follow along with my instructions and post your results down below. Let's begin 2. Art Supplies: Let's start the class with a quick run through of all the supplies you're going to need first up and most obviously, is water covers. You don't have to use this exact set, but these are the ones are used, and those are Windsor and Newton. You'll definitely need to use watercolor paper for this glass. The paper I'm using is 300 grounds for square meter on it could be bought and pads like this, and you'll want to secure that paper to the table. Using tape, I recommend using Scotch tape. We're also going to be using masking fluid in this class, and to go with that, you're going to need a small pot off soapy water. You'll also need a water bowl and some tissue toe washing. Dry your brushes. We'll be using three brushes a square one like this, which we're going to be using to make up the majority of the painting, and I also use a small, pointed brush like this one. But this isn't essential for you to have. I only use it for about 10 seconds, so if you don't have one that's fine. You'll want to use an old brush when using the masking fluid something like this. I also use a rubber at some point, but this didn't make into the visuals because I completely forgot about it. However, you don't actually need a rubber because we're just using it to take off the masking fluid at the end, and you can just use your fingers for that. 3. Water Practice: There are lots of ways to paint water, but today I'm just going to go over a very simple one that will be using in this class. This method works best with a square brush. Square brushes are very versatile. When it comes to mark making, for example, you could use the white side like this. Oh, you could turn it around and use the thin edge to paint narrow lines. You could also angle the brush to paint something in between. Here is an easy technique to paint water. First, make sure your brush doesn't have too much water on it. Then starting with the thin end of your brush, start to paint wide X shapes using a crisscross motion as you move down the paper, you can ankle your brush to make wider marks as you move down the paper to create the illusion of a foreground, see how this is starting to look like water on a choppy sea. - If you're not familiar with this technique, then I recommend practicing a bit before you start on the main piece 4. Choosing the Colours: Before we start on the painting, I'm just going to show you the colors I used and how to mix them. I've had every requests on my other classes that I show you. The paints are used to mix my colors, so I'm adding that in this time. But if you don't have these exact paints, that's fine. You will be able to mix all of the colors in this piece using any yellow, red and blue. I've separated the colors into two columns, the main colors in the peace under the colors I use for the shading and definition. The lightest color I'm going to use is a nice, bright yellow. This is Windsor yellow. Next, I have an orange mixed from Windsor orange and winds yellow and finally on orangey red, made from Windsor red and winds orange, moving on to my shading colors. First, I have a warm pinky purple mixed from Windsor, violet and winds of red Theune. I have a brownish red made from wins, a red winds orange and Windsor violet, and lastly I mixed a warm, dark purple that I'm going to use to add definition to my piece. This is mixed with winds, a red wins a violet and indigo that finishes off the colors. For this time. If you want any more information on paints and colors, do leave a question in the discussions down below. 5. Applying the Masking Fluid: The first step is to draw a circle for the Sun Onda line for where you want your horizon off the piece to go. As this is a water dominant painting, I recommend drawing the line of your horizon 2/3 up the paper. If we wanted the sky to be the dominant feature, we would put the horizon 2/3 down, and if we wanted the sky and the sea to be balanced, then the horizon would go across the middle of the paper. Anything you put masking fluid on is going to stay white, because masking fluid acts a bit like a wax resist on prevents watercolor paints from touching that area. In this piece, we're just going to cover the sun in masking fluid. Masking fluid will kill your brushes in the blink of an eye if you don't take precautions. Precaution. One is the resurrect, a fallen soldier from the brush graveyard. And use that because it doesn't matter if you damage an already old brush. Precaution to is to soak a brush and soapy water before dipping it into the masking fluid. So stops the masking fluid from sticking to the hairs of your brush. so when you wipe your brush clean at the end, it should all come off. Make sure the masking fluid is fully dry before moving on to the next lesson. 6. Painting the Sky - Part 1: Now the masking fluid is dry. We can start painting the sky. You want to start with the sky when painting a Seascape because the sea reflects what's happening in the sky. So we start with the sky and then much the sea to that later, as usual, with water colors, we're going to be working from light to dark. I'm starting with yellow and painting that around my son to mark out the lightest area of my sky, then adding some warmth to this by placing my orange around the yellow on blending it in words, I'm keeping my brush strokes quick in a side to side movement. This will naturally create variations in tone which would create the illusion off clouds in the sky as we build up the painting. Next, I'm mixing up on orangey red and applying this using the same method as before. I don't want to bring this to close to the sun because we want to keep that area nice and bright. If you do cover up too much of the yellow, then you can quickly clean your brush and go over the area, which should pick the red up off the paper the top off my sky is going to be darker than the rest because it's further away from the sun, so I'm going to paint over that again to build it up. I'm also adding more read down the bottom because this guy gets darker again towards the horizon. Lastly, I'm going in with my purple on adding some shading to the darkest areas to add depth with painting dry before moving on to the next lesson. 7. Painting the Sea: moving on to painting the sea. Make sure the sky is fully dry so the colors don't lead down into the sea as you paint, starting with the yellow, I'm just going down the middle of my painting in side to side motions to show where the sun is hitting the water the most. Next, I'm going down either side of that yellow with orange because the reflections on the water aren't as bright were not being hit by direct sunlight, you'll notice that I'm bringing some sections of the orange further into the centre than others. This is going to help create the look of waves as we build up the painting. You could also cut right through the yellow with the orange in some sections to put in some shadows. You could cover up more of the yellow at the bottom of the painting because the sea is going to look dark in the foreground as it's further away from the sun, making your brush drugs bigger as you move down. The painting will help to add depth. Smaller brush strokes make smaller waves, which will look further away on a bigger brush. Strokes will make bigger waves that look closer. Teoh next going in with the red on doing the same thing. Try to keep your brush drugs really light and just skimmed the brush over the paper. It's best to go in light and add more later, because putting paint onto a painting is always easier than taking it off. I'm going to cover up a lot of the orange with the red because my sky is very red dominant . And, as I said before, the sea reflects this guy just gently dragging some of that red over the yellow to build up the shadows. I just like to take a moment to say that you should never set up your work in the way that I have mine here. Putting your painting in between your paints on your water will always end up with you spilling water on your work. But, Emily, I hear you ask, Why did you set up your workstation this way if it's such a bad idea, because it was the only way to get everything in shot. So do as I say, not as I do kids. I did actually throw a bunch of water over my work in this class, which kind of proves my point. I went in with the read a second time to build up areas of shadow. Lastly, I went over those shadows with a darker reddish brown to build up definition between the waves. - I think this is the moment I realized I'd managed to spill a bunch of water of my work, but fortunately, I staged a dashing rescue. If this ever happens to you, then just mop up the water with a tissue by pressing that issue into the paper. Don't rub onto, then paint over it. If your work is still too wet, then you can leave it to dry or dry it a bit with a hair dryer. But do be careful not to set it on fire, because then you'll have bigger problems on your hands. Now leave the sea to dry before starting. The next lesson. 8. Painting the Sky - Part 2: Now the painting is dry. I can see that the colors in the sky are looking a bit dull in comparison to the sea. So I'm going to go over them using all the same colors as before, to build up the vibrancy. This step isn't essential. If you're looking at your painting and think you like the skies, it is then feel free to skip ahead to the next lesson. - Leave the painting to dry before moving on to the next lesson. 9. Adding Definition: next, we're going to add definition to the painting. Make sure your work is fully dry before you start. At the moment, you can see things are looking a bit flat. We've succeeded in painting a nice red sunset, but there's very little separating the sky from the sea, and it's quite hard to make out the movement of the water. A scene with intense lighting and colors like this one is also going to have intense shadows. We're going to put in those shadows now. I'm mixing up a very dark but warm purple. This is a very warm toned piece, so we don't want to suddenly add a lot of cool tones because it might be jarring. Then I'm going to take that purple and go over some of the shadows. I've already painted in the water to intensify those and add some depth keeper like touch between the brush onto the paper, using quick side to side movements with the thinnest side of the booth. I'm also going back in with my red and putting that at the edges of the water to darken those up. I really want to exaggerate this intense line of light down the center of the painting from the sun, reflecting on the sea, then to balance out the shadows in the sky. I'm going to put the purple in some of the clowns toe, harmonize the peace, let everything dry before moving on to the next lesson. 10. Removing the Masking Fluid: make sure your pieces fully dry before removing the masking fluid. You can do this by lightly rubbing on the masking fluid to unstick it from the paper. You can use your finger or an actual rubber. For this, having the pure white son is actually too bright for the peace. So I'm going to lightly paints, um, yellow over it to harmonize the sun better with the rest of the painting. I'm also mixing up my orange from the sky and painting over the sun in places to look like clouds just covering the sun again. This helps to merge the sun in with the rest of the painting. Make sure the painting is fully dry before removing the tape. 11. Class Project: Here is the finished piece, up-close view class project. Try creating your own watercolor sunset by following along with my instructions. Don't forget to post your results down below, as I'd love to see them. Do leave a review as it helps me out a lot. And if there's anything you want me to do a tutorial on, let me know. You can find more of my work on Instagram at E dot R dot curtis, And on my website, www. Emily hyphen curtis.com. I hope you enjoyed this class and I'll see you in the next one.