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.
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.
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.